A feisty and fleet-of-foot Falcons team made the most of its lavish number of opportunities at the free-throw to deal Friday Harbor a 60-53 come-from-behind defeat, Saturday, on the Wolverines home court.
The loss in the Jan. 31 non-league contest, a preview of a possible early round 2B regional post-season match up, snapped a 10-game win-streak by the Wolverines (11-0 league, 14-3 overall), which hadn’t lost since Dec. 20.
“They made us play at a pace were not quite used to,” Friday Harbor Coach Rod Turnbull said. “That’s how we expected they’d play. But our guys battled back after they took the lead and we had a chance at the end. We had a couple of turnovers in the last minutes that didn’t help.”
Auburn Adventist (15-2) senior Kye Robinson was a perfect 20-of-20 from the free-throw line and tossed in a game-high 35 points, including back-to-back three-pointers in the waning moments of the third quarter that tilted a back-and-forth contest the Falcons way and put the visitors up by six, 45-39, heading into the final period of play.
Senior Peter Strasser carried the offensive load for Friday Harbor in the opening half, tossing in 14 of a team-high 18 points before the break.
The Wolverines, plagued by foul trouble throughout the contest and trailing by four with 1:33 remaining in regulation, played without their scoring leader down the stretch after Strasser was whistled for a fifth and final foul.
Over the course of the 32-minute game, the Wolverines knocked down six of only 10 attempts at the free-throw line. The Falcons buried 29 attempts in 34 trips to the charity stripe.
The Wolverines jumped out to an early advantage, capitalizing on its size advantage in the paint and succession put backs on the offensive glass to stake an 18-7 lead at the close of the opening period. The Falcons battled back into the contest with a tenacious, ball-hawking full-court press that disrupted Friday Harbor’s offensive flow and with swift, decisive ball movement on the offensive end that led to a wealth of open looks from beyond the 3-point arc.
Trailing by five with 3:30 left in regulation, junior Luke Stromberg knocked down a three-pointer to bring the Wolverines within two points. But the Falcons managed to keep the ball in Robinson’s hot hand and the 5-foot, seven-inch senior guard netted 10 successive free throws to seal the victory for the visitors.
The Wolverines will close out a 20-game regular-season schedule with three league games beginning Tuesday, at home, against Cedar Park Christian (6-6) followed by a pivotal contest against the Northwest 2B/1B League’s second place squad, La Conner (10-1). They will host Concrete (2-9) in the regular-season finale, Friday, Feb. 10; tip off is 4 p.m.