When the score hit 12-2 just two minutes into the first quarter Friday night, Falcon fans who braved the cold to attend the girls game against Granite Falls started getting a little worried.
They had good reason — the girls were unable to ignite their offense and lost 49-39.
The only highlight was Lindsey Newman’s 24 points, eight steals and 14 rebounds for the Falcons.
The South Whidbey girls are notorious for starting slow and finishing hard, and that was quite apparent against Granite Falls — the girls were still down by 12 points at the first break.
As the second quarter began, Lindsey Newman tried to ratchet up South Whidbey’s level of play but a tempest of turnovers — 25 to be exact — overcame the team. Granite Falls’ forward Jessica Jensen and center Audrey Murphy did a fine job intercepting one pass after another.
But it was Jacque Goss, a nasty piece of work on the court, who menaced every developing Falcon offensive play. Granted, she couldn’t shoot worth a darn but she prevented the girls from establishing any rhythm. Overall, the Tigers were rangy, tough, resilient and hungry for the win.
When the Falcons did snag the ball (Newman and Erica Johnson being especially adept at grand theft basketball), failed passes brought more turnovers and they found themselves down 31-19 at the half.
The key problem was a surfeit of undirected energy — lots of ferocious dribbling downcourt that, in the end, didn’t lead to points on the scoreboard.
Falcons Coach Henry Pope watched in frustration as just about every player attempted to pass through the Tigers, rather than around them.
“They need to learn to run the play based on what the defense is giving them,” Pope said. “It takes time to break old habits. Motion memory and intelligent repetition will pay off down the road, but it can’t be done the first season.”
Teah Wanamaker felt her team didn’t push themselves the extra mile needed to win. “We worked hard, but the Tigers were a team that knows how to push themselves at the end,” she said. “It was a hard game but we are getting better.”
Wanamaker and fellow senior Meagen Rawls said the game against Granite Falls led to some intensive shoot-around drills on Saturday.
“We practiced dribbling and how to take advantage of the passing lanes,” Rawls said.
“There’s no doubt we have to get better at reading the competition. And we need to get more pumped up during the pre-game warm-up — it’s fun but not as concentrated as it should be,” she said.
To bolster the offense in future contests, Pope brought up two players from junior varsity he thinks can be a factor — freshmen Chantal LaChaussee and Cayla Calderwood.
“We needed quicker guards and ballhandling,” Pope explained. “Both girls played well tonight but it will take a few games for them to settle down.”
LaChaussee was glad for the chance to play.
“The coach called me and said I was going to play varsity from now on,” LaChaussee said. “He was my coach for three years in middle school. It is definitely a faster game at this level but I think once I learn how the other girls operate on the court, it’ll work out OK. Both of us are pretty excited.”
At 7 p.m. Friday night, the girls welcome the Lakewood Cougars to Erikson Gym.