Makana Stone netted a game-high eight rebounds Friday in a tough loss to Willamette. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Britanny Kochenderfer just drove a huge spike through the hearts of Whitman College women’s basketball fans.

The Willamette University junior, who entered play Friday shooting 39.2% on the season, got red-hot and may have shot the Blues out of being league champs.

With Kochenderfer raining down 24 points, on 9-12 shooting, including 3-3 from behind the arc, the visiting Bearcats shocked a cold-shooting Whitman squad 62-55.

The loss, the second-straight for the Blues after they put together a 21-game winning streak, drops Whitman to 13-2 in Northwest Conference play, 21-3 overall.

The news gets worse for Whitman, as their biggest rival, George Fox, took care of business Friday, shredding Lewis & Clark 81-58.

With the win, the Bruins move to 14-1, go a game up on Whitman with one to play and clinch at least a tie for the league title.

The Blues, who split two games with George Fox, need a perfect finale Saturday to gain part of the regular-season league title.

Whitman needs to bounce Linfield (5-10, 9-15), while hoping Pacific (4-11, 5-18) can somehow pull off a miracle against George Fox (14-1, 21-3).

Regardless of whether they finish first or second, the Blues host a playoff game Feb. 22 in Walla Walla.

The top four teams in the nine-team league advance to the postseason, with the winners in the semis facing off Feb. 24 in the title game.

If Whitman is the #2 seed, they get a rematch with Willamette (11-4, 15-9), which is locked in to the #3 seed.

George Fox, at #1, would face either Lewis & Clark (8-7, 13-11) or Puget Sound (7-8, 12-12), which play Saturday for the #4 seed.

After that comes the NCAA D-III women’s national tourney, where Whitman made it to the Elite Eight a season ago.

Friday night, the Blues could not get the ball to stay in the basket, shooting an icy 30% from the floor in the first half.

With their big two, senior All-American Casey Poe and sophomore Makana Stone, a combined 2-14 at the break, and Willamette torching the nets to a 56% tune, Whitman trailed 34-24.

Things got slightly better in the second half, as the shooting numbers finished at 50%-36%, but that wasn’t a big enough change for Whitman to make any huge rallies.

Every time the Blues made a mini-run, such as cutting the lead back to seven headed into the fourth, Willamette responded.

The Bearcats opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 surge, while holding the Blues scoreless for five minutes-plus, and led 57-44 with 4:53 to play.

Whitman closed the game on an 11-5 run, but could never quite get over the hump.

Stone, the former Coupeville star, hauled down a game-high eight rebounds but was held to a season-low two points.

Heading into the regular-season finale Saturday, she is Whitman’s #2 scorer (308 points) and #1 rebounder (168 boards), while also dishing out 44 assists, rejecting four shots and making off with 16 steals.

Stone is shooting 53% from the floor (131-247) and 78% from the free-throw line (46-59) this season.

   CMS 8th grader Ja’Kenya Hoskins was a whirlwind on both ends of the floor Thursday in a season-opening win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This was a back-alley beat down. Brutal and beautiful.

Both of the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball teams this season are stocked with players who have risen through the SWISH ranks, learning the game and jelling as a unit as they do so.

And now that pays off.

Opening the season with a fury, the Wolves scorched visiting Chimacum twice Thursday, in games which were routs and yet could have been far worse, if the CMS coaches hadn’t pulled back the reigns and the refs hadn’t gone into the tank.

8th grade:

The core of the older Wolf squad won a title the last time they were on the floor, capping their SWISH season by routing three big-city teams.

Thursday they picked right back up where they left off, using a withering defense and an opportunistic offense to thrash the Cowboys 56-14.

The game was actually close for about half a second, as both teams displayed cold shooting touches early on and CMS clung to a 4-2 lead with a little over two minutes left in the first quarter.

Enter Ja’Kenya Hoskins, and exit any chance Chimacum would have.

With Coupeville clamping down with a full-court press and trap, the Wolves suddenly ripped off four baskets in approximately 12 seconds, with Hoskins directly involved in all of them.

She started things with a steal and breakaway layup, then fed running mate Izzy Wells for a layup off of another steal.

With the Cowboys going from disorientated to disaster in the blink of an eye, Hoskins ripped a ball free, then launched a pass that dropped perfectly onto Audrianna Shaw’s fingertips.

Catching the ball in mid-stride, the Wolf guard banged home a running layup, part of her game-high 18, and the rout was on.

Just to make sure Chimacum knew their moment had passed, Hoskins promptly stole the in-bounds pass and repeated her air mail assist move, with the ball flung to a sprinting Kiara Contreras this time around.

Up 12-2 at the first break, Coupeville was just getting started.

The second quarter was one bucket after another, as CMS ran the Cowboys ragged as they knocked down 25 points in eight frantic minutes.

Anya Leavell, who somehow was NOT one of the five Wolves to score in the first quarter, made up for it in a big way, dropping in eight points by herself in the second quarter.

All four buckets came on long outlet passes, as Leavell slipped behind the defense, then triggered the jets on her shoes once her teammates lobbed the ball airborne.

The prettiest pass came from Abby Mulholland, who also set up Ella Colwell for a basket as Coupeville kept the ball zipping from player to player, only stopping when the orb hit the bottom of the net.

Just to cap things, Wells sank a three-ball from the top off of an in-bounds pass, then spun, stole the ball right back and fed Shaw on the break.

Everything was clicking for Coupeville — on one play Samantha Streitler stole a pass, flipped it backwards to Hoskins, then reached for the popcorn and enjoyed the show as Hoskins hit Leavell in stride for yet another breakaway bucket.

The only thing slowing down Dustin Van Velkinburgh’s squad was a running clock, which went into effect once the lead hit 40, and refs, who, feeling sorry for Chimacum, decided to stop calling anything on the Cowboys for the final 10 minutes.

I could go on a long tirade about how blatant “charity” from the refs, too frequently displayed during middle school blowouts, actually hurts instead of helps a weak team trying to improve, but we’ll move on.

Seven of the 12 Wolves to see the floor scored, with Leavell dropping in 13 to go with Shaw’s 18.

Wells (9), Hoskins (6), Kylie Van Velkinburgh (4), Contreras (4) and Colwell (2) also scored, while Katelin McCormick, Streitler, Alana Mihill, Mulholland and Angelina Gebhard chipped in with hustle, defense and killer attitudes.

7th grade:

For a very long stretch of this game, it appeared Chimacum wouldn’t score.

While the Cowboys finally netted a bucket nearly 14 minutes in, then went almost 10 minutes before bucket #2, the young Wolves slapped down baskets left and right in a 50-10 rout.

Gwen Gustafson, channeling older sister Amanda Fabrizi, a former high-scoring CHS hoops star, drilled the bottom of the net with a pull-up jumper less than 30 seconds into the game and things were essentially done.

Her basket came off of a rebound by Nezi Keiper, and it signaled complete and utter domination on the glass from the Wolves.

With Keiper, Carolyn Lhamon, Adrian Burrows and the Battlin’ Lucero sisters, Allie and Maya, pulling down 3.9 out of every four rebounds, CMS had second, third, sometimes even sixth chances.

Most of those boards came on the offensive end of the floor, as Coupeville’s guards pestered and harassed the Cowboy ball-handlers into total submission, resulting in painfully few Chimacum shots.

Buzzing like attack insects, Maddie Georges, Alita Blouin, Gustafson and Hayley Fiedler came at the Cowboys from every angle, rarely giving them a chance to breathe, much less think about making solid passes.

Once they had the ball back in their hands, which was on just about every possession through the first three quarters, the Wolves flew to the hoop.

Georges, living up to her “Mad Dog” nickname, was a particular buzz-saw, picking pockets, then flashing by the Cowboys, who saw a burst of red hair go hurtling by but had no answers for the quicksilver hoops star.

With older brother Alex Evans calling the shots in his first game as the CMS 7th grade coach, and former Wolf baller Rhiannon Ellsworth screaming her name every time she scored, Georges served notice the future of Wolf hoops is here and it will be electric.

Draining a game-high 14, Georges teamed with Lhamon, who banged down low in the paint for 10, to form a potent outside/inside combo.

Seven other Wolves scored, with Gustafson (6), Blouin (5), Maya Lucero (5), Allie Lucero (4), Keiper (2), Fiedler (2) and Burrows (2) also etching their names in the book.

Trinity McGee, Jordyn Rogers, Jessenia Camarena and Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson also saw floor time.

   Samantha Streitler and the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball squads tip off a new season Thursday at home. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A new season dawns.

The high school teams have wrapped up play, but the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball squads make their debut Thursday afternoon.

The young Wolves host Chimacum, with tip-off set for 3:15 PM.

Coupeville’s 7th graders, coached by first-year coach Alex Evans, kick things off, followed by “grizzled vet” Dustin Van Velkinburgh and his 8th grade squad.

The Wolves play a 10-game schedule, with other home games Mar. 1, 5, 15 and 19.

Rosters as we head into the new campaign:


Ella Colwell
Kiara Contreras
Angelina Gebhard
Ja’Kenya Hoskins
Anya Leavell
Lily Leedy
Katelin McCormick
Alana Mihill
Abby Mulholland
Audrianna Shaw
McKenna Somes
Samantha Streitler
Kylie Van Velkinburgh
Izzy Wells


Alita Blouin
Adrian Burrows
Jessenia Camarena
Karyme Castro
Maddie Georges
Gwen Gustafson
Hayley Fiedler
Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson
Nezi Keiper
Carolyn Lhamon
Allie Lucero
Maya Lucero
Claire Mayne
Hannah Mayne
Trinity McGee
Cristina McGrath
Abigail Ramirez
Jordyn Rogers

   Kailey Kellner (right), hanging with former Coupeville teammate Tiffany Briscoe, is nearing the end of her first season of college basketball. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s killin’ it to the end.

Taking advantage of whatever floor time she gets, former Wolf hoops star Kailey Kellner continues to be one of the bright spots during a topsy-turvy season for the D’Youville College women’s basketball squad.

Kellner has appeared in all 24 games this season for the Spartans, starting six, and is one of just six players on a 15-woman roster to have seen action every night.

Wednesday night D’Youville, unable to hold on to an early lead, fell 77-48 to visiting Medialle College.

With one game left on the schedule — a road trip Saturday to Pennsylvania to face La Roche College — the Spartans are 4-13 in Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference play, 5-19 overall.

D’Youville struck early against Medialle, claiming a 15-14 lead at the first break, thanks to a solid bit of work late in the quarter from its fab frosh.

Kellner picked up a pair of assists, setting up Monica June on a three-ball and Darian Evans on a layup, while also finding the bottom of the net on a jumper of her own.

The Spartans couldn’t hold on after that, however, slipping behind 34-25 at the half against a Medialle team fighting for third-place in the 10-team league.

From there the Mavericks stretched the lead out to 51-35 after three quarters, before coasting in for the victory.

For the season, Kellner has racked up 57 points, 61 rebounds, 26 assists, five blocks and nine steals.

   Three years after Wiley Hesselgrave lost a chance to participate in a playoff game, the WIAA may finally change the inane rule which prevented him from appealing. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly.

Three years after Coupeville High School football star Wiley Hesselgrave was shafted by an asinine rule, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association may finally change it.


During Senior Night against Concrete in 2015, Hesselgrave, a rock-solid guy who played the game as hard, clean, and full of passion as any Wolf ever, took a hand-off and went left, slashing for yardage.

Taken down by a tackler right in front of the press box, he was assaulted by a second Lion who launched themselves onto his prone body.

It was a blatant late hit and Concrete was flagged.


Despite no evidence to support such a call, the ref ejected Hesselgrave, saying he threw a punch at a Concrete player as they got back up.

And I’m telling you, IT NEVER HAPPENED.

I’ve seen high school players throw punches, and, in one case, during an Oak Harbor girls basketball game, solidly connect, fist to chin.

Wiley didn’t even shove the Concrete player as he stood up, much less swing.

This wasn’t across the field. The entirety of the play was right smack-dab in front of me (and two former coaches who were also occupying the dilapidated old CHS press box.)

Wiley was innocent.

But the ref made a (poor) judgement call and Hesselgrave was tossed, and ejections merit an immediate one-game suspension.

Which meant no mini-playoff game the next week against Chimacum for Coupeville’s best player.

And there was nothing anyone could do about it, since WIAA rules specifically prohibit schools from appealing ejections on judgement calls by the refs.


But, that may be changing.

The WIAA Representative Assembly (35 high school delegates and 19 middle school delegates) will vote on a whole new raft of amendments between April 27-May 4.

A 60% vote of approval is necessary for an amendment to pass. Those that do go into effect Aug. 1.

A lot of the possible changes are minor, or affect things which have little to no impact on Coupeville.

But ML/HS Amendment #10 wants to strike right at the heart of this doozy from the current WIAA rule book:

Ejections resulting from a judgment call by a contest official may NOT be appealed. Pictures, video evidence and/or replay recording devices may not be used.

Instead, it would be replaced with this:

Ejections resulting from a misinterpretation or misapplication on the part of the ejecting contest official(s), or a judgment call that resulted in an ejection, may be appealed.

School approved video evidence, submitted by the principal or designee, may be used to determine whether an ejection was due to judgment, misinterpretation or misapplication on the part of the ejecting contest official(s).

I understand the desire to protect refs by their association. They have a hard job as it is, and are constantly being second, third and fourth-guessed.

But not allowing schools to show video evidence, when it would prove an ejection and suspension was unwarranted, does the athletes a great disservice.

This is something which has needed to change for a very long time, and I give big props to to the Mid-Columbia Conference and the Greater Spokane League for stepping up and submitting this amendment.

In their rationale for the move, they say:

High school and middle level officials at times make mistakes in judgment that lead to the ejections of players.

To not have a source of appeal, with these decisions directly impacting student/athletes, is wrong.

If we are kid-first than we are responsible to provide DUE PROCESS, a process that increases fairness and prudency.

They also point out other states, such as Oregon, allow the use of video when appealing ejections during high school play.

And, obviously, professional and collegiate officials have existed for many years with an appeal system in place.

There is no reason Washington state high school sports should be any different.

If the ejection is valid, there would be no appeal. End of story.

But to deny a player such as Hesselgrave a chance to have an obvious correctable wrong reversed leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.

Time for the WIAA to rinse, spit and embrace rightful change.