But at Ballard last Friday, the Falcons had their chances, before falling 40-39 to the Beavers in what will never be referred to as a shootout.
It was a grinder.
Fact is, the Falcons surged to a 29-19 halftime lead, playing their most inspired basketball of the young season while shooting 48 percent — a good number.
Then it appeared someone put a lid on the basket, as Woodinville shot a woeful 3-of-16 in the second half, including only three free throws and nary a field goal in the third quarter as Ballard came alive to cut the lead to 32-30.
The Falcons shot 36 percent on the night; the Beavers shot 30 percent — yet somehow emerged victorious.
“We were up by 10 at the half and then they zoned us and we only scored 10 the rest of the way,” coach Jamie Rowe later lamented. “We actually controlled the boards and played pretty good defense. We just couldn’t get a bucket when we needed it. Hey, Ballard’s a good team with a lot of guys back from last year. They move the ball well.”
In a steamy gym with a noisy crowd — a hoop junkie’s delight — it was 34-all with five minutes left and anybody’s game.
Ballard’s 6-7 Seth Berger, who led all scorers with 23 points, worked the baseline for a leaner to go up a deuce at the four-minute mark.
Two minutes later, after both clubs exchanged turnovers as diving bodies hit the floor, Woodinville’s Jake Miller knocked down a three-ball to put the Falcons up 37-36. Ballard went right back to Berger, their meal ticket, and he delivered. Then Robbie Jackson flipped in a runner to make it 39-38 Falcons at 1:15.
Berger was then fouled — allegedly — with 17 ticks on the clock and dropped in two clutch free throws — pretty-as-you-please in a high rainbow arc — to make it 40-39 Ballard.The Falcons had the ball and a great chance — all they could ask for.
But Jackson, who played his heart out all night, was whistled for traveling with seven seconds left.
Yet it wasn’t over, as things got funkier: Ballard turned the ball over on its inbound play. Woodinville had it with six seconds left and the money on the table. In a flurry of indecision, the ball found its way to Brett Arrivey in the far corner — not the first scoring option — and the gutsy senior’s jumper was long and kicked out of bounds by Ballard for one last-ditch, one-second-left play from under the basket.The low percentage play got even lower when Jackson’s long pass to Miller made him backtrack beyond the top of the key. Ball game.
“We played really hard and I love this group of kids,” Rowe said. “They work. We just struggled to score against their zone. It was one- and-done. But it was a battle. And it’s gonna be a battle all season ... This is the toughest conference in the state.”