When the game was over, Falcon players were all smiles as they headed for the team bus. It would be a happy ride back to Woodinville.
“There’s something about basketball season,” Woodinville head coach Kurt Melton said. “It’s the best time of year.”
The Falcons had just defeated North Creek 48-33 in the lively environs of the North Creek High School gym.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair for much of the night. Woodinville led 22-19 at halftime. A few minutes into the second half, a Jack Messmer three-pointer gave the Falcons a 29-23 lead.
Things started to loosen up late in the third quarter. Woodinville’s Josiah Bush drained a three pointer, giving the Falcons a 35-26 advantage.
Then with 6:30 left in the game, Bush struck again from beyond the arc. The Falcons now led 43-26.
With 2:30 left, Woodinville passed the ball around to milk the shot clock, before Cage Schenck drained a 12-footer. The lead was now 46-28
At this point, Coach Melton emptied the bench.
With five seconds left in the game, Woodinville’s Carson Noe had the ball on the perimeter. He patiently waited for the clock to expire. Teammates on the bench began egging him on to launch a three pointer. But the big fella smiled and quietly shook his head to indicate “nah”.
The buzzer sounded. The Falcons had won 48-33. Just like that, Woodinville took over first place in Kingco 4A with a 2-0 record in conference play.
“We knew coming in to this game it was going to be a tough one,” Woodinville’s Josiah Bush said. “We knew that from start-to-finish we were going to have to play hard and play smart. Rebounding was key tonight. The way we rebounded tonight was superior because it gave [North Creek] fewer chances to shoot and it impacted the result of the game. “
“I like the ball movement later in the game,” Coach Melton said. “Earlier we didn’t move the ball very well. But when we finally started doing it, the guys started knocking down shots.”
One thing making this December night fun was the crowd. About fifty Woodinville students traveled to North Creek to carve out their own little enclave in the stands. Many dressed up in wigs, bathrobes, cowboy hats and oversized sunglasses. They had their own little Mardi Gras going on. They engaged in back-and-forth chants with the North Creek student section, and cheered on the Falcons.
“Hey, I’ll tell you this, I hope they keep coming out,” Coach Melton said. “They helped their buddies out. [Falcon players] see them there and they get a little more excited to play. They get a bit more energy... They’re there to cheer on their friends. I enjoy that, so please keep coming out. I hope it grows!”
During the game, Melton often looked tense and filled with angst. After one horrendous moment of officiating, he looked like he’d just bitten into a lemon. But after the game, he was fired up and filled with enthusiasm.
“There’s something about basketball season,” Melton said. “I’ve grown up with it. Like all these kids, any basketball guy falls in love with the game and you can’t get enough of it. The sound of it, the smell of it, the feel of it, everything. Getting the kids together and trying to figure out how we’re going to build this thing. It’s the best time of year.”
Melton paused, then said: “Although, I don’t know if my wife would agree!”