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Cougars poach Falcons for season’s first league win | SLIDESHOW
LAKEWOOD — Cougar boys varsity basketball faced a tall order as they faced the South Whidbey Falcons in their first Cascade Conference game on Dec. 7.
Enter 6-foot-8-inch South Whidbey senior Zach Comfort, who stood five inches taller than the tallest Cougar because 6-foot-6-inch senior center Dustin Stanton was still recovering from an injury.
“We knew Comfort would be tough, so we tried to keep the ball out of his hands,” Lakewood coach Matt Hart said. “But he still had 14 points (and nine rebounds).”
Freshman guard Paul Coleman connected on three three-pointers and freshman guard Ryan Alford hit a jumper from the top of the key in the first quarter to kickstart Lakewood’s attack.
The Falcons worked the ball to Comfort on the inside to make Lakewood cheat down and create open looks from the outside. Lakewood leapt to slow him down and earn his points at the free throw line.
Lakewood led 20-13 after the first quarter.
The Cougars were quicker than the Falcons, swarming to rebounds and pushing the ball up the floor to make the post-happy Falcons play faster than they preferred.
“The fast pace is part of what we want to do this year,” Hart said. “Luckily, it worked out tonight.”
Alford drove the lane from the top of the key and found junior forward Justin Peterson beneath the basket when South Whidbey players stepped up to slow the penetration.
Comfort found the ball enough to keep the offense alive and Falcon defenders took charges on defense when Lakewood made aggressive cuts on the way to the basket. They broke Lakewood’s full-court press with ping-ponging passes to get behind the Cougars’ defense that pursued the ball.
Turpin blocked Cougar freshman guard Hunter Fritz’s three-point shot from the top of the key with one second left in the half, at which Lakewood led 27-21.
Lakewood kept its full-court press in the third quarter.
The Falcons switched to a 3-2 zone to keep the Cougars out of the key, but the Cougars paid no mind as they zipped the ball downcourt in transition for quick scores and junior forward Kolby Schueller popped up to nail a jumper from the top of the key to extend their lead to 35-21.
In a late third-quarter timeout Lakewood coach Matt Hart urged his players to get position in front of Comfort and keep him from getting the ball.
“We tried to not let him catch the ball by fronting him and making him pass instead of shooting,” Hart said.
They did just that as Peterson and the defense opened up a 41-29 advantage when they out-rebounded the Falcons, jumped in front of Comfort and sped the other way down the court before South Whidbey players could get back on defense.
The Cougars continued their fleet-footed attack in the fourth quarter and emerged with a 58-47 win.
Alford and senior forward Zach Smith led the Cougars in scoring with 14 points each. Coleman finished with 11 points and an assist. Peterson totaled nine points, six rebounds and eight steals.