On paper, it was supposed to be a rout. The South Whidbey High School girls basketball team refused to follow the script.
The Falcons gave Oak Harbor all it could handle before falling to the visiting Wildcats 46-40 Friday, Dec. 13.
The Wildcats held all the cards. It is a 3A school, at least four times larger than South Whidbey. Oak Harbor boasts a veteran lineup; the Falcons are young.
The Wildcats came into the game with a 4-0 record, including a victory over Sedro-Woolley, the team that beat South Whidbey by 37 points Tuesday. The Falcons entered the contest with a 2-2 mark, and the wins came over two teams with a combined 2-7 record.
The game started as most would expect — Oak Harbor raced to a 10-4 first-quarter lead as the Falcons mustered only two hoops, one each by Arianna Briggs and Sami Daly.
From that point, South Whidbey matched the Wildcats in scoring as both teams tallied 36 points the rest of the way.
The Falcons’ offense started to pick up in the second quarter as six players scored, led by Emma Hodson with 4 points.
The Wildcats still managed to up their lead to 24-15 at the break.
South Whidbey got one point back in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 11-10 as Kayla Knauer drained a three-ball and sister Madi hit a pair of hoops for the Falcons.
The Falcons again outscored Oak Harbor in the fourth quarter, 14-12, getting 6 points from Hodson.
Poor free-throw shooting stalled South Whidbey’s comeback attempt. The Falcons sank only two of eight foul shots in the fourth quarter and just five of 14 for the game.
A key factor in South Whidbey’s ability to stay with Oak Harbor in the second half was taking care of the basketball.
The Falcons committed only nine turnovers over the final two quarters after having “almost 20” in the first half, according to coach Jeff Hanson.
“We almost got them (Oak Harbor),” Hanson added. “We are starting to gel as a team. We never, ever quit.”
One of the Falcons’ strengths is its depth, and it showed up again Friday. Nine different South Whidbey players scored, led by Hodson with 10 points. Isabelle Wood finished with 7, Ella Wood 6, Kayla Knauer 5, Madi Knauer 4 and Nikki Murnane, Briggs, Liz Haines and Daly 2 each.
Jasmine Ford scored 13 for the Wildcats.
South Whidbey (2-3) starts North Sound Conference play this week with a trip to Bothell to play Cedar Park Christian (3-3) at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17.