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Senior Hannah Davidson is a key returning starter for the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Bouncing back from a volleyball injury, Chelsea Prescott is ready to singe the nets.

Ja’Kenya Hoskins (left) is out with a broken ankle, but she’ll be there to cheer on Izzy Wells.

Scott Fox is ready to get going.

Since taking over the Coupeville High School girls basketball program following the retirement of David and Amy King, he’s taken his new players to summer camp, but, come Monday, things get really real.

That’s when the Wolves show up in the CHS gym for their first practice, with a jamboree in Sedro-Woolley just 12 days later.

The Coupeville girls open the regular season with back-to-back road games Dec. 3-4, travelling to Darrington and Oak Harbor, before welcoming Orcas Island to town Dec. 7.

As Fox prepares for the 18-game season ahead (plus a potential playoff run), he and new JV coach Megan Smith are already appraising the talent they have, and how best to use it.

The Wolves, who finished third in the six-team North Sound Conference a year ago, lost three seniors to graduation, led by Lindsey Roberts, who exited as the #18 scorer in program history.

Her departure, along with those of Ema Smith and Nicole Laxton, leave a hole to be filled, but Fox won’t enter the season empty-handed.

Senior guards Scout Smith, Avalon Renninger, and Tia Wurzrainer, senior center Hannah Davidson, and junior forward Chelsea Prescott lead off the returning core, one the new Wolf coach will rely on to lead his squad.

“The strength of our team is going to be our experience,” Fox said. “We have four seniors and a junior who will lead us this year.

“I’m hoping that our senior experience, coupled with playing time opportunity for the others, will push us in practice and we will see the results in our games.”

The others he speaks of includes a mix of returning players, such as sophomore Izzy Wells, and newbies, like the freshman trio of Nezi Keiper, Carolyn Lhamon, and Maddie Georges.

Sophomore Ja’Kenya Hoskins, who was a hard-working rebound machine as a swing player last season, was expected to play a major role for Coupeville, but her body had other thoughts.

A broken ankle, suffered during a Homecoming week dodge-ball tourney, has subtracted her from the roster, likely for the entire season.

Ja’Kenya is out, and that hurts,” Fox said. “But it has opened up opportunities for Izzy, Nezi, and Carolyn, who all play that position.

“We have a couple of incoming freshmen that could see a lot of varsity time,” he added. “Point guard Maddie Georges showed a lot of promise this summer. She ran the second team offense most of the summer, until she was slowed down with a back injury.”

However the roster ends up breaking down, the Wolves will look to make their mark on the defensive side of the ball.

With a scrappy team of ball-hawks at his disposal, Fox wants to take the game to opponents.

“We play very hard-nosed defense and will rely on our bench to keep the intensity up,” he said. “We are a defensive-oriented team, so, if things go as planned, our defense is our backbone.

“Transition offense from our defense is going to be crucial for our success,” Fox added. “We need to recognize our opportunities to attack with numbers or set up our offense when our fast break is not there.”

While defense is the spark, a basketball team still needs to score to win games, and the Wolves enter the new season without anyone like recent stars Makana Stone, Kailey Kellner, or Roberts, players who were established as go-to scorers in big moments.

Prescott has shown an ability to pump in points in a supporting role, though, while Smith and Renninger are steady shooters.

The chance is there for any of that trio, or other players, to blossom into a feared offensive weapon. They just need to seize the opportunity in front of them.

“We are asking kids to be scorers that really haven’t been in the past,” Fox said. “I was extremely pleased in the summer when we started to gel and the kids started to figure out their roles.

“I am all about the open person taking the shot, no matter who it is,” he added. “In fact, as the kids will tell you, if they have an open shot and don’t take it, we’re going to talk.”

While he’s a longtime hoops guru, Fox is still relatively new to Coupeville basketball, especially the girls side of the ball.

As he preps for league play, it will be a learning experience.

“Being my first year at the helm, I’m sure King’s is the team to beat,” Fox said. “They have always been very talented and will pose challenges for us and the rest of the league.

“I just don’t know much about the other teams, and who is coming back this year.”

Which doesn’t mean he fears, or overlooks, any opponent, regardless of what their record might have been in years past.

“My goals are to be competitive in every game,” Fox said. “Looking at our schedule, I feel we have the talent and desire to compete in all of these games.

“I’ve been stressing to the kids to be practice players and that will translate to game players,” he added. “The harder we play in practice, the more successful we are going to be in the games.”

Coupeville’s Makana Stone, with mom Eileen, banked in 18 points Friday as Whitman basketball rolled to a big win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Get off to a fast start? Check.

Coupeville grad Makana Stone kicked off her final season of college basketball Friday by throwing down a game-high 18 points, as the Whitman women thrashed Concordia University 90-51.

The win came in Spokane, as the two squads helped launch the 2019 Whit Classic, hosted by Whitworth University.

After whippin’ up on their Texas counterparts, Whitman returns to the floor Saturday to play Carroll College out of Montana.

The Blues, who open the season ranked #23 in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, play their first seven games on the road, including a rematch Dec. 6 with Concordia in Austin, Texas.

After that, Whitman plays six straight at home in Walla Walla, beginning with two games at the Kim Evanger Raney Classic Dec. 13-14.

The Blues have a tough schedule, playing 15 of 25 regular season games on the road.

Starting off the season away from Walla Walla seemed to have no negative effects on Whitman, however, as it came out strong and put Concordia down hard.

A 21-12 run in the first quarter set the stage, while a 26-17 surge in the second turned the game into a potential blowout.

Not letting up, the Blues powered through a 24-11 third frame, then coasted home to a 19-11 tune in the fourth with the bench players carrying the load.

With Whitman romping, Stone and her fellow starters eased into the season, not having to play a tremendous amount of minutes.

The former Wolf star picked up her 18 points in just 19 minutes of floor time, draining nine of 15 shots from the floor.

Stone added three rebounds, three steals, and an assist, while Kaelan Shamseldin backed her up with 17 points, including five three-balls.

Mady Burdett popped for 10, giving Whitman three players in double-digit scoring, with 11 of the 14 Blues who hit the court landing in the scoring column.

With her 18-point performance, Stone has amassed 946 points across 84 college games.

She remains on target to become just the ninth female player in Whitman history to top 1,000 career points.

Zane Oldenstadt rumbles under the hoop. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

CMS students cram the stands to support their classmates.

Wolf coaches Jon Roberts (seated) and Craig Anderson ponder the action.

Coupeville’s Level One team is (back, l to r) Logan Downes, Oldenstadt, William Davidson, Nick Guay. Front: Timothy Nitta, Ryan Blouin, Hunter Bronec, Cole White, Landon Roberts.

Blouin lets the ball fly.

Greg White delivers his best Vince Lombardi speech to his players.

Downes strolls in for two of his game-high 25 points.

Calm and composed, William “Mr. Freeze” Davidson remains a cool cat, even when crashing to the floor to snag a loose ball.

Rumble, young man, rumble.

Playing at home for the only time in their first five games, the Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads were in top form Thursday afternoon.

The Wolves captured two wins in as many games against visiting Northshore Christian Academy, while wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken worked the sidelines, clicking away.

The pics above are courtesy him, but there’s a lot more.

To see everything Fisken snapped, and maybe nab some early Christmas gifts for Gram and Gramps, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2019-2020/MSBBB-2019-11-14-vs-Northshore-Christian/

Zane Oldenstadt flies high for the tip. (Morgan White photos)

Coupeville fans bring the love.

“And now … we win.”

Tuition for students at Northshore Christian Academy in Everett runs close to $9,000 a year.

All that money couldn’t buy the private school a win Thursday, however.

Having traveled to the wilds of Whidbey to face off with the Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads, NCA found itself on the losing end of both contests played on the hardwood.

A sweet sweep for the public school Wolves, it gave Coupeville’s hoops stars a rare chance to shine in front of their hometown fans.

CMS hits the road for three straight games after Thursday’s rumble, starting with a Monday trip to Granite Falls.

The Wolves open the season with four of five on the road, but that does mean they will get to turn it around in the second half, with four of five at home.

“It’ll work out,” Coupeville coach Greg White said. “We’ll get to play at home when we’re playing better, because we’ll continue to improve as the season goes on.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

While Coupeville’s squads might not have been in mid-season form Thursday, they still played with passion, a lot of heart, and some considerable skill.

When things got tough, and they did in both games, the Wolves found a different gear and grabbed the wins, a testament to their grit.

How the day played out:

 

Level 1:

What doesn’t kill you makes you tougher. Or something like that.

Less than 24 hours after badly hurting his ankle in the season opener, Logan Downes, heavily-taped up and yet playing like a mad man, banked home a season-high 25 points as CMS won a wild 35-32 thriller.

The win evens Coupeville’s record at 1-1.

Thursday’s opener was a game of runs, as both teams took turns dropping hay-makers, with the biggest, most-explosive uppercut coming courtesy of the Wolves.

Having frittered away a nine-point second-half lead, thanks in large part to rimming out nine straight free throw attempts, Coupeville watched in horror as the game (seemingly) slipped away.

From up 24-15 late in the third, the Wolves found themselves on the wrong end of a 15-2 run, and trailed 30-26 with a hair over three minutes left to play.

The air in the CMS gym was thick with tension (or just all the fun odors to be found in a middle school gym…), and the Wolves huddled around their coach, faces covered in shadows.

At which point Downes smiled about something, teammate William Davidson chuckled, and, as one, Coupeville’s players strode back on to the court like Mike Tyson entering the boxing ring in his glory days.

The final 3:11 was a portrait of excellence, painted by the Wolves in a way which left few, if any, brush strokes for the visitors to add.

Downes struck first, breaking the press and throwing down a layup to pull CMS within a bucket.

That missing two points came courtesy Cole White, who, off of a pass from Downes, whirled and chucked up a shot which possibly sent his dad/coach’s heart through his shoes.

Except.

The ball was angled perfectly, and crashed through the net, somehow, with a very-satisfying whomp, sending his rockin’ fan section into a fit of delirium.

NCA was bent, but Davidson and Downes broke them on the very next play.

Jumping a pass, Mr. Freeze picked off the ball, shot past the startled former ball-handler, then dished the sweetest dish of the night to Downes, who was running like a young man with two good ankles.

Ball smacked into hands, and the third of Angie Downes‘ three sons exploded to the hoop for a sparkling layup, sending Coupeville ahead for good.

Moments later, Logan, this time standing still, broke that team-wide 0-9 free throw streak, swishing a pair of freebie shots to drive a final stake through the heart of Northshore.

The free throws were set up by Zane Oldenstadt, who out-wrestled two foes to claim possession of an offensive rebound, than had the presence of mind to kick the ball to Downes.

The play was one of many from his big men which brought a smile to Greg White’s face.

Zane and Will played really tough for us today,” he said. “As a team, we rebounded and played help defense really well.

“We had a drastic improvement in that area from the first game. We responded well.”

The victory came despite a cold opening for the Wolves, who missed their first five free throws and fell behind 7-0 early in the game.

But, this was a game of runs, as mentioned before, and once CMS scored, it didn’t stop for awhile.

A Downes free throw finally put the Wolves on the board with 2:12 left in the first, and that set Coupeville off on a 17-2 run.

Four different CMS players scored in the second quarter, with many of the buckets set up by solid passes, such as Downes slashing to the hoop to find a perfect feed from Landon Roberts awaiting him upon arrival.

Davidson and White offered up points done the right way, with the former banging down low, and the latter tip-toeing through the paint while flicking the ball off the glass.

Nick Guay added a free throw, while Downes, playing out of his mind at times, hit one basket on which he snared a rebound, then knocked down the shot while being knocked backwards to the floor.

Somewhere in the moment right before his rear slammed into the hardwood, Downes, moving in slow motion while everyone around him whizzed by, arced the ball gently up to the heavens, where his prayer was answered.

The CMS eighth grader spread his 25 points out, hitting for three, nine, five, and eight across the four quarters of play, while five of his teammates provided scoring support.

Cole White banked in four points, Davidson and Oldenstadt added a bucket apiece, while Ryan Blouin and Guay rounded out the attack, each netting a free throw.

 

Level 2:

A great run to close the third quarter was the difference, as Coupeville turned a tie into a nine-point lead, then held off the visitors 23-19 despite going scoreless in the fourth quarter.

The win lifts the Wolves to a flawless 2-0 on the season.

This one had a weird rhythm to it, as Northshore stayed in the game by making some of the funkiest three-point shots ever seen, and nothing else, until late in the third quarter.

Coupeville drew first blood on a three-ball of its own, with Timothy Nitta picking up a loose ball in the left corner and letting fly, his ball snapping the net gently as it flopped through.

NCA responded with back-to-back treys, both from the same shooter, both on awkward-looking, but very-effective Hail Mary shots.

Going airborne, they seemed to have no chance, and yet both heaves rattled around the rim and somehow found a way to drop, causing some in the audience to wonder if we were witnessing a real-life version of Angels in the Outfield play out.

Whether there were celestial beings at work or not, the Wolves responded with more down-to-Earth work, starting with a sweet pull-up jumper on the move from Nathan Ginnings.

Back to within 6-5 at the first break, Coupeville got a Hunter Bronec free throw to open the second quarter.

And then, bam, Northshore’s #40 was at it again, with a three-ball that he snapped off from somewhere down around his ankles, sending a wobbly, but uncannily-accurate shot skyward, where it shattered the Vegas odds and hit pay-dirt.

If they were troubled by The Man Who Couldn’t Miss (except when he did, which was a lot), the Wolves didn’t show it.

Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim rolled hard to the hoop for a bucket, followed by back-to-back buckets from Jack Porter, the second off of a strong offensive rebound, and CMS was in charge.

Twin brother Johnny Porter tacked on a layup coming out of the halftime break, and, up 14-9, the Wolves were flowing.

Until another miracle three-ball splashed down, followed by the rarest of rarities in this game, a Northshore bucket off of an inside shot. A layup from a steal, it knotted the game at 14-14.

To which the Wolves, as a unit, turned, flexed hard, and closed the third quarter with a bold stand, comprised of one half lock-down defense, the other half superbly-executed shot-making.

Nitta rippled the net on a three-ball, then popped free for a rolling jumper, while Simpson-Pilgrim crashed hard to the hoop with a power move which brought back memories of Karl Malone delivering the mail.

Toss in a final bucket in the paint from Hurlee Bronec, and the lead was back to 23-14 headed to the final quarter.

Which was a good thing, as the Wolves went stone-cold in the ol’ shooting department across the final seven minutes.

Strong defense, especially when it came to crashing the boards, kept NCA from staging a full-on comeback, and the Wolves rode the glass work of Mikey Robinett, Simpson-Pilgrim, and Co. to the win.

Nitta paced the Wolves with eight points, while Johnny Porter (4), Simpson-Pilgrim (4), Hurlee Bronec (2), Jack Porter (2), Ginnings (2), and Hunter Bronec (1) also scored.

Maddie Vondrak and fellow Wolf athletes are off to a new league next year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Changes, changes.

What we know for sure – Coupeville High School athletic teams drop from 1A to 2B next year, and the Wolves will take up residence in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

That reignites old-school rivalries, while also meaning next year’s seniors will be in their third league in four years.

As freshmen, they witnessed Coupeville’s final go-round in the 1A Olympic League.

Now, after two years in the 1A North Sound Conference, Class of 2021 athletes lead their fellow Wolves into the new frontier.

But, as we head back, who awaits our arrival?

Orcas Island, for one, where Oprah Winfrey reportedly dropped 8.3 million on a 43-acre secluded compound.

And there’s Darrington, birthplace of longtime Price is Right host (and Happy Gilmore co-star) Bob Barker.

Toss in four other schools, and you have a party.

 

Concrete:

Classification in 2020-2021 — 1B (drops from 2B)

Mascot: Lions

Team state titles: football (1984, 1985); softball (2007)

 

Darrington:

Classification: 1B (drops from 2B)

Mascot: Loggers

Team state titles: boys basketball (1955, 1957, 2003); baseball (1981)

 

Friday Harbor:

Classification: 2B

Mascot: Wolverines

Team state titles: volleyball (1986) 

 

La Conner:

Classification: 2B

Mascot: Braves

Team state titles: volleyball (2002, 2006, 2007, 2018)

 

Mount Vernon Christian:

Classification: 1B

Mascot: Hurricanes

Team state titles: None

 

Orcas Island:

Classification: 1B (drops from 2B)

Mascot: Vikings

Team state titles: girls soccer (2009)

 

With the move from 1A to 2B, boys soccer bounces from the spring to the fall, as 2B plays both girls and boys soccer in the same season.

That shifts Coupeville from having five sports in the fall, two in the winter, and five in the spring to a set-up of six-two-four.

The Wolves don’t currently wrestle or play golf like many of their new league mates do, while some of those schools opt of sports in which CHS fields teams.

The outlook, at least at the moment:

 

FALL:

 

Volleyball:

All six teams play, but not everyone plays like La Conner.

The Braves are the defending 2B state champs, and open the 2019 big dance Thursday against Willapa Valley.

La Conner is 16-0 this season, 20-0 last year, and has won 37 straight matches dating back to the final consolation match of the 2017 state tourney.

In Northwest League play, they have at least nine straight undefeated campaigns.

I say “at least” because the league’s website only goes back as far as 2011, with La Conner rolling to 10-0, 10-0, 10-0, 12-0, 7-0, 6-0, 7-0, 7-0, and 10-0 marks in that time.

Mount Vernon Christian couldn’t beat the Braves this year, but they are also at state, and open the 1B tourney Thursday against Klickitat-Glenwood

 

Football:

Friday Harbor, Concrete, and La Conner play, while Orcas and MVC don’t. Darrington has been playing eight-man football in a separate 1B league.

La Conner won the league title in 2016, the last year Orcas fielded a team, then has been stuck in rebuilding mode.

Concrete won in 2017, the last year Darrington played 11-man ball, then shared the title in 2018 with Friday Harbor.

That ’17 Lions title team was coached by Marcus Carr, who left Concrete after that season to take over the Coupeville football program.

Friday Harbor rolled to the title in convincing fashion this fall, and opens the state tourney Nov. 16 at Lake Roosevelt.

 

Cross Country:

Only MVC and Orcas field teams, with the Hurricane boys finishing 16th in the team standings at the 1B state meet this fall.

 

Boys Tennis:

Only Friday Harbor fields a team.

There were several years where Coupeville and Friday formed a two-team mini-league, though the Wolves have spent the past two seasons joining South Whidbey and playing in the private school-dominated 1A Emerald City League.

 

Girls Soccer:

MVC, La Conner, Orcas, and Friday Harbor play, while Concrete and Darrington don’t.

The Hurricanes (15-1-1) and Wolverines (8-7) both play Saturday in the quarterfinals of the state tourney, which combines 1B and 2B teams.

The league has been a competitive one in recent years, with La Conner winning conference titles in 2016 and 2017, before Friday Harbor came out on top in 2018, and MVC this fall.

 

Boys Soccer:

Orcas, MVC, Friday Harbor, and La Conner play, while Darrington and Concrete don’t.

The four NWL teams are joined by Providence Christian, Grace Academy, and Lopez for this sport.

League champ Orcas (14-1) and runner-up Friday Harbor (14-4) both play Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 1B/2B state tourney.

The Vikings have won back-to-back league crowns, after Providence Christian (2017) and MVC (2016) claimed the previous two regular-season titles.

 

WINTER:

 

Girls Basketball:

Everyone plays, and almost everyone chases La Conner.

The Braves have won five straight league titles, sharing the crown with Friday Harbor in 2015-2016 and claiming the other four crowns outright.

Darrington was the last team to hold off La Conner, ruling the league in 2013-2014.

 

Boys Basketball:

Everyone plays, with Friday Harbor winning the last two, and three of the last five titles.

In between, Orcas claimed the crown in 2016-2017, and La Conner was king in 2015-2016.

 

SPRING:

 

Softball:

Everyone except MVC plays.

Friday Harbor has been the big baddie, but it would be a shame if someone came along to blow up the league.

While the Wolverines have won five straight titles dating back to 2014-2015, they have gone 1-4 in non-conference games against Coupeville in that time.

After losing 7-6 in 2015, CHS has won 11-1, 9-4, 13-4, and 18-17 the past four seasons.

The two teams, who both advanced to state and won games there last season, meet Mar. 17 on Friday Harbor in a final non-conference tilt.

The following spring, the true battle begins.

 

Baseball:

Everyone plays, with Friday Harbor, which got knocked out in the state quarterfinals last spring, having won four straight titles.

The last three have been outright, while the Wolverines shared the 2015-2016 crown with La Conner, who won outright the season before.

 

Girls Tennis:

Only Friday Harbor fields a team, and the Coupeville female netters, unlike their male counterparts, played inside the North Sound Conference.

A two team mini-league with a lot of non-conference matches? Some kind of hook-up with another league for just one sport? Your guess is as good as mine at this point.

 

Track and Field:

La Conner, MVC, Concrete, and Friday Harbor field teams, while Darrington and Orcas don’t.