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Falcons chase Wolves in foulfest | Boys basketball
It game was, well, different.
The South Whidbey boys basketball team ousted visiting Coupeville from the district tournament 56-45 Thursday, Feb. 7.
Both teams had a slew of turnovers and neither shot well, but both played with the intensity and passion expected in a rivalry game that determined whether the season would end or continue.
Then there was the officiating. The play was ragged at times, and the uneven officiating compounded the problem and exasperated the players, coaches and fans from both schools.
Coupeville's comeback was hindered by three technical fouls, one legit, one suspect and one downright baffling.
But complaining won't change the result and the Wolves finished their season at 1-21 and the Falcons upped their mark to 5-18 and live to play another day.
South Whidbey used a harassing, full-court man-to-man defense to cause a cascade of turnovers that resulted in a 12-2 lead.
From there, Coupeville played catch up.
The first quarter ended 12-4, and the Falcons pushed the lead to 11 several times in the second period. With the help of eight points from Ben Etzell, the Wolves trimmed the gap to 26-21 at one point and trailed 28-21 at the half.
Hoops by Nick Streubel and Etzell and three free throws by Wiley Hesselgrave cut the margin to two, 30-28, with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
Then the Wolves were weakened when starters Caleb Valko and Hesselgrave went to the bench with four fouls, and two technicals helped South Whidbey go up 38-32 heading into the fourth period.
The final quarter turned into a free-throw shooting contest. The teams combined to sink 21 of 24 foul shots in the period with the Falcons making 13 of 15. In all, the teams connected on 41 of 59 free throws in the contest.
The game's final 16 points were all scored from the line.
South Whidbey went up 46-34 with 2:38. The Wolves hit eight consecutive free throws to go along with an Etzell three to slice it to 49-45 with 42 seconds left.
Coupeville wouldn't score again and the Falcons drilled seven straight foul shots as the Wolves were forced to foul.
Etzell scored a game-high 18 points, Streubel had 10, Valko six, Morgan Payne four, Hesselgrave four and Joel Walstad three.
Coach Anthony Smith said, "I am so proud, the kids played hard. It was a good, hard-fought game; we just lost it at the end."
He added, "We turned the corner; better things are ahead."