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Ty Hamilton wheels and deals in a recent game. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   CMS coach Bob Martin gives Isaiah Bittner his marching orders. “Go destroy some fools, son!!”

They came, they saw, they conquered.

Delivering their best performance of the season right as they head into winter break, the Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads rolled to big wins Thursday at Chimacum.

The Wolf JV ran past the Cowboys 36-26 to claim its first victory of the season, while the CMS varsity left the court carrying a 55-42 triumph.

The wins lift the varsity to 3-2 and the JV to 1-4, and those records will stay in place for a bit.

Coupeville has a three-week gap on its schedule, not returning to action until Jan. 4, when Forks makes the long trek to Whidbey to kick off the second half of the 10-game schedule.

Until then, the young Wolves can bask in the glow of victory, thanks to strong defensive efforts in both Chimacum games.

Varsity:

The Wolves put the hammer down early, with Caleb Meyer and Hawthorne Wolfe both tossing in six points apiece in the first period, part of a 17-point CMS explosion.

Other than a brief dip in the third quarter, Coupeville continued to pour in the buckets all afternoon.

Wolfe finished with a game-high 21, netting seven of his points via the free-throw line.

CMS hit 15 shots from the charity stripe as a team, one of its best performances this season.

Meyer knocked down 11 points to back Wolfe, while Grady Rickner popped for 10 and Xavier Murdy banked in six.

Logan Martin (5) and Cody Roberts (2) rounded out the scorers.

JV:

Coupeville put this game away with a 14-point run in the second quarter, keyed by six from the fingertips of point guard Aiden Burdge and a pair of buckets from enforcer Isaiah Bittner.

A three-ball from Tony Garcia in the fourth quarter put a cap on the win for the Wolves.

CMS spread its scoring around, with Bittner leading the way with 10.

He was followed by Burdge (8), Damon Stadler (8), Garcia (5) and Gabe Shaw (5).

Alex Murdy, Dominic Coffman, Levi Pulliam, Kevin Partida and Ty Hamilton rounded out the Wolf roster.

Roll on, mighty Wolves!!

   Nicole Lester collected two points, five rebounds, three steals and an assist Tuesday in a Wolf JV win. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Chelsea Prescott, getting her hair done by Catherine Lhamon, scored 19 points, with 13 coming in the fourth quarter.

Imagine how good they’ll be when they have a full roster.

Despite playing every game this season with multiple players in street clothes, the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball team has set the standard.

Now 4-2 overall, 1-0 in Olympic League play after polishing off host Port Townsend 27-14 Tuesday, the Wolf young guns are red hot and rolling.

And that’s even though they played with just seven of 11 players active against the RedHawks.

With a few dings healing up, some practice time caught up, and a hoped-for banishment of the flu, Amy King’s squad could be at full force as early as its next game, which arrives Saturday.

If not, no big whoopee, as whomever is in uniform will surely step up and play huge.

Facing off with Port Townsend, the Wolves had seven in uniform, but swing players Avalon Renninger and Chelsea Prescott were restricted to just two quarters apiece.

No problem, as Prescott dumped in 13 of her game-high 19 in the fourth quarter, turning a close, defensive-minded game into a rout.

“We spread them (Chelsea and Avalon) out to cover all quarters and keep the stability on the court,” King said. “Both stepped up and did their part, strong on defense and getting scrappy off an on throughout the game.”

While she always enjoys a win, King was less thrilled with how drowsy a game it was.

“Something about playing in that gym. The game seems to slow down,” she said. “We were very quiet on defense most of the night, even though we did a pretty good job shutting down their main player.

Maddy Hilkey, Mollie Bailey and Tia Wurzrainer formed a three-headed defensive dynamo, “cutting off shots and slowing down drives.”

Nicole Lester played a strong all-around game, ripping down five boards and making off with three steals while Spanish sensation Julia García Oñoro collected a career-high three rebounds.

Julia looked more comfortable; she has shown so much improvement since this season started,” King said.

While the game was a snooze for a big chunk, and Port Townsend’s crew struggled mightily with its shot clock and possession arrow duties, the Wolves rose to the moment when it was required.

“The girls battled and did pick up when they needed to,” King said. “We took good shots all night, and I tell the girls to keep looking at the basket and keep shooting – those shots will fall.”

Hilkey tossed in four points to back Prescott, while Lester and Wurzrainer rounded out the attack with a bucket apiece.

   Lindsey Roberts had nine points and 10 rebounds Tuesday in a loss at Port Townsend. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They haven’t been here before.

After three seasons in the penthouse, the Coupeville High School girls basketball team will have to fight its way from the ground floor up if it wants to win a fourth-straight Olympic League crown.

With one starter missing Tuesday and another forced to sit out a chunk of the game with an injury, the Wolves fell 38-32 at Port Townsend, ending the second-longest winning streak in league history.

Coupeville had won 27 straight conference games, finishing 9-0 in each of the first three seasons of the four-team league.

That was two shy of Klahowya girls soccer, which is 29-0 over four seasons.

Now an uncharacteristic 0-1 in league, 1-6 overall, the Wolves still have two-thirds of their season ahead.

They’ll also have some time to continue seeking their groove, which has been a bit elusive while trying to deal with the loss of four starters from last year’s team.

CHS will play four straight non-league games next, not returning to conference action until Jan. 6. The Wolves close with eight of their final 10 against league foes.

For the moment, Chimacum sits atop the standings at 1-0, followed by Port Townsend (1-1), Klahowya (0-0) and Coupeville (0-1).

When they do return to league play, the goal will be to bring the same intensity the Wolves showed in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game.

Having absorbed a 13-0 beat-down in the third quarter, Coupeville was sitting with just 14 points heading into the final eight minutes. They responded in style, scoring 18 and almost catching the RedHawks.

“Something happened to start the fourth. The game we had prepared to play showed up,” said CHS coach David King. “Instead of being the prey we became the predator.

“We had them on their heels, but time doesn’t stop and we ran out of it tonight.”

Employing an aggressive defense, Coupeville forced numerous turnovers in the fourth, then drove straight at the heart of Port Townsend’s own D.

It worked, as the Wolves got some easy buckets and also went to the free throw line on a regular basis.

The biggest beneficiary was Lindsey Roberts, who knocked down five of six at the charity stripe down the stretch.

Coupeville closed to within 36-32 with a minute and a half left in the game, only to have its shots fail to drop down the stretch.

The game opened as a struggle of wills, with both teams having trouble getting anything to stay in the bucket.

The Wolves were hurt by the loss of Kyla Briscoe, who went down early with a knee injury. While she returned later in the game, losing their starting point guard for a chunk threw off the rotation.

With Briscoe on the sideline, sophomore Scout Smith stepped in and ran the team smartly, while others helped fill the gap.

Roberts, who finished with nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds, “played outstanding on both ends of the court” while Mikayla Elfrank torched the RedHawks with 10 points, seven steals and six rebounds.

The team’s leading scorer with 78 points in seven games, Elfrank has passed 28 former Wolves this season, and now sits #51 on the CHS girls basketball career scoring list with 206 points.

Ema Smith drilled a pair of jumpers and was a flawless 3-3 at the line to score seven points, while Sarah Wright “played one of her best games” with five points and five rebounds.

After struggling at the free throw line in recent games, CHS had its best performance of the season Tuesday, hitting 10-15.

Allison Wenzel hauled down four rebounds, while youngsters Chelsea Prescott and Avalon Renninger earned significant playing time in the second half.

Prescott, a freshman, netted a free throw for her first varsity point.

“We had players stepping up and taking on roles they hadn’t expected when the day started,” King said. “I was very proud of the players that showed up today.

“We talked about commitment and playing for each other,” he added. “I’ll take a group of players like that every day.”

The kid can’t miss!!

   Mason Grove scored 34 points, with 10 three-pointers, in Tuesday’s JV game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mason Grove can shoot. End of story.

The Coupeville High School sophomore has a quick, deadly stroke from three-point land, something he has demonstrated all season.

Tuesday night, though, Grove took it to another level.

Raining down 10 (count ’em) three-balls, he had arguably the greatest single offensive game any Wolf JV player has ever recorded, scoring 34 points in a 59-48 loss to a high-powered Port Townsend squad.

The loss drops a young, mostly inexperienced CHS team to 1-4, but the Wolves didn’t fall easily.

Trailing 15-7 after one quarter of play, a period in which the offense came from Daniel Olson, Ulrik Wells and Jake Pease, Coupeville (and Grove) lit up the joint in the second.

It started with a trey from the top, and then the balls started falling from every direction.

By the time he was done, Grove had hit five three-balls in the quarter, scored 17 and helped keep the Wolves alive as the two teams battled to a 21-21 stalemate over eight furious minutes.

The few times the long-range shots weren’t falling, Pease cleaned the glass effectively, knocking down a pair of shots.

Three consecutive Grove treys to kick off the third quarter pulled CHS to within a single point at 38-37, but that was when the more-polished RedHawks began to assert themselves.

A 20-5 Port Townsend surge that began at the midway point of the third and crested late in the fourth doomed any chances of a Wolf win, but Coupeville stayed scrappy until the end.

Free throws from Wells and Grove helped, and then the fans, who had been counting down, got what they wanted when Grove splashed home his 10th three-ball in the final minute.

Coupeville’s record for a varsity game is seven treys, set by Gabe Wynn last season. Until then, Brad Sherman, the current CHS head coach, was the high man, with six during a 2001 game.

Grove’s 34 points, very likely a single-game scoring record for a JV game, were just 14 off the Wolf varsity record of 48, set by Jeff Stone (without the three-point line) way back in 1970.

Pease chipped in with six points Tuesday, while Wells and Olson knocked down three apiece.

Jean Lund-Olsen rounded out the scoring with a basket, while David Prescott, Alex Jimenez, Gavin Knoblich, Tucker Hall and Sage Downes saw floor time.

   Beware the wrath of “The Enforcer.” Wolf senior Kyle Rockwell delivered several “Rock Blocks” Tuesday, sparking an incredible comeback win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Today, most of the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball players are 16, 17, maybe 18 years old.

Storming back from 12 down in the fourth quarter Tuesday, upending defending league champ Port Townsend 44-41 in overtime, rebounding from the worst night of the season to lay claim to the best — it’s huge in the moment.

Yet tomorrow, the Wolves return to school, family life, practice, all the routine things of life. They won’t have much time to bask in a victory which raises them to 1-0 in Olympic League play, 2-3 overall.

But wait a bit.

Give it 10 years down the road, when they come back for that first reunion.

Or 20 years down the road, when they tell the tale to their own children.

Wait until their playing days are long gone, when they are the grandfathers in the stands at games, and what went down Dec. 12, 2017 will stay with these Wolves.

It will live forever in their memories, one bright, shining moment when team meant everything, and calmness under pressure was rewarded.

They’ll look back and remember the “Rock Blocks,” resounding rejections delivered in crunch time by senior enforcer Kyle Rockwell.

Hunter Smith’s insane drive through the paint in overtime, slicing ‘n dicing three defenders as he banked home a game-winner while explosively stumbling on one foot, will remain crystal clear.

And Jered Brown’s game-clinching free throws — little rain drops of perfection splashing through the net, delivered as Port Townsend’s JV players wailed and gnashed their teeth right next to me — will be the perfect capper as old men raise their glasses and remember the thrill of youth.

Now, at this point, some of you are shaking your heads and saying, “It was just a game.”

Right…

This was Port Townsend, once invincible.

This was the RedHawks, still the kings until someone forcibly topples them from their perch.

And this was Port Townsend, the team that drove a stake through Coupeville’s heart a year ago.

The man who knifed the Wolves in last year’s thriller was Jacob Boucher, and he played a major role in Tuesday’s reversal of fortune.

This time, though, instead of hitting a game-winning three-ball, he was being sent to the locker room, ejected after getting two technical fouls, then continuing to run his mouth in the presence of the refs.

The ejection, coming on the heels of Rockwell rising up to snuff a RedHawk shot, gave Coupeville several things in one fell swoop.

Trailing 35-22, and having hit just one field goal in the entire second half, the Wolves needed a spark. Something to rile them up and make them rise up.

Bingo, Boucher.

The ejection stopped the clock, which was running away from the Wolves, it sent Smith to the line, where he swished three free throws, and it knocked a great deal of the air out of the RedHawks.

Suddenly, despite a double-digits lead, they became the tentative team, and suddenly, none of their shots would drop against a CHS defense which had reclaimed its “five wild dogs attacking as one” status.

Two more free throws from Ethan Spark, then (miracle of miracles) back-to-back field goals (the first since the four-minute mark of the third) sliced the lead to 36-32.

Port Townsend knocked down one final bucket, on a quick cut inside, but the momentum had turned and the tsunami was headed straight at the RedHawks.

A Smith free throw cut the margin to five, then Coupeville forced a turnover in the back court.

With bodies flying everywhere, the ball landed on the fingertips of Spark, who was struggling a bit with his shot.

Never fear, as, when it mattered most, the senior gunner was straight money, swishing a three-ball from the left corner to slice the lead to 38-36.

The improbable, the unexpected, the beautifully-crafted comeback reached its apex with another defensive stop, a silky-smooth pull-up jumper from Smith, and then 31 seconds of pure, golden, defensive Hell.

Port Townsend had two chances, one to take the lead, and another, after a long rebound, to outright win, but couldn’t hit either shot while being bombarded by a stifling Wolf defense.

Playing without defensive spark-plug Cameron Toomey-Stout, who rolled his ankle earlier in the game, the Wolves mixed and matched their lineup.

Rockwell, Brown and Dane Lucero, mixed with Smith, Spark and the Glass Cleaner Twins, rebounding aces Hunter Downes and Joey Lippo, brought the heat in the nerve-shredding finale.

Tied at 38-38, with a fresh four minutes added to the clock for overtime, the two teams went toe-to-toe.

This wasn’t a case of one team losing, but instead a tale of one team rising up to claim a win, no matter the cost, or how hard their foe came at them.

And give the RedHawks credit. They fought like savages to the final moment.

A gorgeous shot from Smith, hanging in air for eternity while his shot hit the back of the rim, clanked around, then flopped through, put CHS up.

Port Townsend responded, getting three the hard way, on a put-back and ensuing free throw, before Smith pulled off what might be the best basket he has ever scored.

Now, we’re talking about a guy who went for a season-high 26 points Tuesday.

A guy who passed former Wolf greats Marc Bissett, Jim Syreen, Roy Marti and Randy Duggan to move from #37 to #33 on the school’s career scoring list.

The master of calm, cool and collected, who, when he is not astounding, is just plain magnificent.

But this one, this shot, this was one for the ages.

His team trailing 42-41, the clock ticking towards 30 seconds left in overtime, Smith sucked the defense to him, then slashed/stumbled/rumbled up the gut, somehow beating the rules of gravity to stay on his feet.

Three RedHawks had a chance to stop him, and Smith made them all miserable, slapping the shot through the tiniest crack in the defense, banking the ball up off the glass and in.

All around him, madness reigned, people screamed like banshees, and, this is not 100% confirmed, but it’s possible Smith might have actually raised his eyebrow a single, solitary millimeter.

Which, for him, is the equivalent of another player ripping their jersey in half.

And yet, there’s more!

Port Townsend had not one, not two, but three close-in shots in the final seconds, but could not buy a bucket.

How the final tipped shot from Noa Montoya didn’t go down is a mystery best explained by the CHS gym having a ghost who was perfectly positioned to knock the ball back up and out of the cylinder.

With the ball on the floor, it was Brown, a five-foot-seven sophomore wandering in between the big trees, who grabbed the game’s biggest rebound.

If Smith is ever-calm, Brown’s placid demeanor when playing makes his teammate look like a raving lunatic by comparison.

It’s possible his nerves were exploding on the inside, but, on the outside, Brown projected the feeling of a cool breeze reaching out and caressing every Wolf fan’s face.

The RedHawk supporters screamed. Brown dropped in the first free throw with barely a ripple in the net.

The RedHawk supporters wailed. Brown dropped in free throw number two, and the net never moved.

Cue one final moment of madness, as Smith knocked the in-bounds pass away and time ran out before Port Townsend could get a game-tying shot off, and the celebration swept through the gym, a tidal wave of joy.

The furious finale capped a game that was very close until Coupeville’s shooting woes in the third quarter and part of the fourth allowed the RedHawks to (seemingly) pull away.

Bright spots in the early going for the Wolves came via a 7-0 run to close the first quarter, two sparkling shots from Lippo (one a three-ball, another on a quick cut under the hoop) and Coupeville’s defensive intensity.

Downes, giving up inches but compensating for it with heart, was an animal on the boards, while Rockwell continues to carve out his legend as a folk hero.

An easy-going big man who has never let blindness in one eye slow him down, the senior scored his first-ever varsity points on a pair of free throws, while rejecting three RedHawk shots while patrolling the paint.

The one-for-all-and-all-for-one mentality, the grit, the refusal to give in, all brought a huge smile to Coupeville coach Brad Sherman’s face.

Coming off a very unsatisfying game at South Whidbey Saturday, seeing his guys bounce back so quickly and so convincingly in their league opener, was all he could ask for, he said.

“A monster win!,” Sherman said. “I give all the credit to the guys on the floor.

“This all comes down to if they believe they can win,” he added. “(Assistant coach) Chris (Smith) and I believe they can, but they have to believe it. And they showed us they do.

“The way they closed out the game? Wow. Just wow. Really about all I can say.”