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Coupeville players confer during a break in the action at a summer hoops camp in Eastern Washington. (Photos by Amy King)

Lunch time, with senior Ema Smith (center) shepherding the freshmen.

   Smith, fully embracing a leadership role, offers an assist to injured teammate Audrianna Shaw.

Mollie Bailey (left) and Anya Leavell work on a word search during a team bonding exercise.

   Shaw, Ja’Kenya Hoskins (center) and Kylie Van Velkinburgh beat the heat with icy treats.

   18 Wolves made the trip East, the biggest turnout for summer camp in many years for the CHS girls.

The wounds of war.

CHS varsity coach David King draws up a play for the Wolf JV players.

Work in the summer to prosper in the winter.

That’s the mindset for Coupeville High School girls basketball players, who spent a chunk of vacation time this past week putting in time on courts at Eastern Washington University.

The team’s annual trip to summer camp, while breaking from tradition by not being at Ocean Shores, was still a big draw.

CHS coaches David and Amy King had 18 players show up, the most in years.

Almost every returning varsity player was on hand, and the incoming freshmen came out in force like never before.

Overcoming two sprained ankles, a concussion check and “quite a few bruises,” the Wolves survived playing many of their games in a converted hockey rink, returning with knowledge, game experience and team bonding memories galore.

David King’s thoughts on the trek East:

What a trip it turned out to be.

We as coaches don’t necessarily go to camp for the wins.

We go for the team bonding and building teamwork. Stretch players into roles they may not have played before. Along with working individual skills and improving our overall game.

We also wanted to work in mental toughness.

With such a big freshman group, our goal was to learn more about each player and what skills they have. It also helped them get to know us and our way of coaching and expectations.

Overall, it was a great camp and we accomplished what we wanted.

Each day we saw improvement throughout the games, with Tuesday evening and Wednesday’s games being our best.

Lindsey (Roberts) and Ja’Kenya (Hoskins) had a block party over the three days.

Lindsey started it with a run down from behind on a fast break and spiked the ball out of bounds. Ja’Kenya, game after game, had what seems like multiple blocks.

We had Mollie (Bailey) and Lily (Leedy) dazzle us with behind-the-back dribbling.

Lily pulled hers off in the last game. The varsity team went wild.

Toughness was brought by Hannah (Davidson), Nicole (Laxton) and Ella (Colwell). All three improved their post defense and post offense.

With better understanding about positioning, Ema (Smith), Chelsea (Prescott) and Abby (Mulholland) came up big for us with hitting some outside shots, along with improved defensive play for each.

Sammi (Streitler) and Kylie (Van Velkinburgh) are both solid players that help the team in many ways.

We challenged both to look for their shots.

By day three, both started looking at the basket and knocking down some shots. They understand that being an offensive threat helps the team.

Audrianna (Shaw) and Scout (Smith) led both teams from the point guard position. Looking to set up teammates along with taking their shots when open.

Tia (Wurzrainer) played with the varsity group.

This experience really helped her and showed she can play at a higher level. She also mixed it up with grabbing rebounds against much taller opponents.

Kylie Chernikoff, with one year of basketball under her belt, played on both the JV and varsity teams.

She, along with Mollie, led the JV team and gained good experience getting into games with the varsity group.

Anya (Leavell), like many other players, is a competitor. Hates to lose and will give her all.

Something we have been working on is her shot, getting more arc. Sometime on Tuesday it clicked for her and her shot started to transform.

During camp we talked about playing with the correct energy with all of the players.

Anya corralled her energy and had her two best games of camp. Others also showed progress and their games improved as well.

Morgan (Stevens), never played before. I believe one of the first to sign up for camp.

Talk bout growth over three days.

Came in very quiet and unsure. By the end of game three, her defense had improved, she was diving on the court for loose balls and battling for rebounds.

We had great leaders in Lindsey, Ema and Scout. Varsity players that put team over individual and willing to help each and every other teammate.

To prove this point — during the last JV game, Ema came over and talked with Morgan about defense.

The next time out, Morgan was aggressive when guarding her player and channeled Kylie C. with being vocal along with aggressive.

There are things that we know we need to work on; camp helps bring this to light. But the positives far outweighed the areas to improve.

Lastly, we couldn’t have done this without the support of Sherry and Jon Roberts, who let us borrow their car.

Then two freshman moms stepped up big time. Alysabeth Leedy Bonifas and Stephanie Grimm

Both took their time and vehicles to help get these players to camp! The support was outstanding! We can’t thank them enough.

Of course I can’t leave Amy out without thanking her.

She is the hardest-working person I know.

She does all of the behind the scenes stuff that keeps me on track and us organized. This year she even sacrificed more by having to stay in a dorm room while I took the easy route and stayed in a hotel.

I’m just very happy and proud of the players and how they represented themselves and Coupeville.

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   Ella Colwell, a strong rebounder for the CMS 8th graders, kicks off a final look at Wolf hoops portraits. (Photos by JohnPhotos.net)

Claire Mayne

Allie Lucero

Trinity McGee

Jordyn Rogers

Alana Mihill

Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson

Hannah Mayne

Abigail Ramirez

Angelina Gebhard

The future of Wolf girls basketball is strong.

The Coupeville Middle School 7th and 8th grade teams just capped 8-2 and 6-4 seasons, respectively, and both rosters were chock full of rising stars.

As they exit and head outside for track season, here’s a look at 10 portraits I wasn’t able to use during the regular season.

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   A rough and tumble season finale at Forks included CMS spark-plug guard Kiara Contreras suffering an ankle injury. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

As season finales go, this one busted out all the fireworks.

After traveling all day Thursday, and then some, to get to Forks, the Coupeville Middle School basketball squads walked head-on into a wild afternoon on the court.

By the time the Wolves exited and headed back to the bus for their final trip home this season, they had two wins in as many games, though one came in an extremely odd manner.

The Wolf 7th graders romped to a 37-24 win, while the CMS 8th graders officially were credited with a forfeit win after the Forks coach pulled his players and took his ball home while trailing by five with 14 ticks left on the clock.

Seriously.

But first, the game that finished.

7th grade:

Carolyn Lhamon has steadily grown as a force in the paint for the Wolves, and she capped her first middle school season by throwing down a career-high 24 points.

While Lhamon by herself would have been enough to match Forks, she wasn’t alone.

Not by a long shot.

Maddie Georges tossed in seven in support, Nezi Keiper and Gwen Gustafson each added a bucket and Alita Blouin knocked down a pair of free throws to round out the attack.

With the win, the CMS 7th graders finished the season at 8-2 for first-year head coach Alex Evans.

The Wolves fell only to Sequim, a large middle school which funnels players to a 2A high school, and both of those games came down to the wire. One was decided late in the fourth, the other in overtime.

8th grade:

Where to begin?

The game was rough-and-tumble, to be charitable, with Coupeville shooting 35 free throws and losing spark-plug guard Kiara Contreras to a leg injury after she was sent intentionally flying by a Forks rival.

Up by one with 50 seconds to go, the home-town Spartans melted down mentally, throwing away the game and their cool.

Wolf scoring ace Anya Leavell struck twice, stealing a ball and turning it into a go-ahead layup, then pilfering yet another pass only to be tackled to the floor.

Unable to continue, she had to be replaced at the free throw line, with Coupeville coach Dustin Van Velkinburgh calling on Abby Mulholland to do the honors.

“Enter the momentum-swinging hero! After playing less than a minute, Abby steps to the free throw line and sinks them both,” said a proud coach.

After that, things went all to heck and beyond, with a steal on an inbound pass, a turnover, a missed Forks shot, a scramble for a loose ball and a Forks coach coming unglued.

Whistled for a technical, he continued to rant while Izzy Wells iced the game with a pair of charity shots.

And then the Forks coach took his ball and went home, refusing to play out the final 13.8 seconds of the season, forfeiting the game and any chance to close with class.

In the midst of a game where a Forks player cursed right at a ref’s face and Contreras was injured on a play that seemed to spring out of a time machine from the era when the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” used to throttle Michael Jordan, there was a saving grace.

It came in the way Coupeville’s players handled a potentially explosive situation on a foreign floor.

“There were a lot of times where we could have given into the fight but we didn’t,” Van Velkinburgh said. “We stayed the course, stayed together and got large contributions down the stretch to pull a wrestling match out to be a basketball game win.

“We end our season and I couldn’t be more proud of this group of young ladies.”

His squad finished 6-4, with their losses coming to Stevens and Sequim, two schools several times larger than Coupeville.

The victories built his team’s confidence, and the losses taught them what they need to do to improve.

As they prepare to move up to high school ball, Van Velkinburgh, who has guided these players through several years of SWISH basketball prior to this season, has seen the Wolves grow, develop and bond as a team, on and off the floor.

“I’m very excited for their future,” he said. “My hope is they continue to work hard and that they stay together.

“Amazing group of young ladies that I can truly say I have been blessed to share the court with.”

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   CMS 7th grader Maya Lucero outscored Blue Heron by herself Monday afternoon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

We arrive. We torch your gym. We leave. (Ryan Georges photo)

Rain drops were falling outside Monday, but inside the gym at Port Townsend, a storm was raging.

Dropping the hammer on their foes, both Coupeville Middle School girls basketball squads savaged host Blue Heron, then retreated to the bus to celebrate in style.

The CMS 7th graders opened things with a 37-3 crunching in which three different Wolves outscored their foes by themselves, then Coupeville’s 8th grade unit strolled to a 53-14 victory.

The wins lift the young guns to 7-2 on the season, while the older Wolves are 5-4.

Coupeville wraps its season Thursday with the longest road trip of the year, a jaunt to the land from which Ron Bagby sprang, the misty Twilight-land known as Forks.

8th grade:

The first half was a battle. The second, a rout.

Clinging to a 20-11 lead at the half, Coupeville went nuclear like the Rams in the NFL free agent market, scoring every time they tried anything.

The 33-3 surge after the break brought a smile to CMS coach Dustin Van Velkinburgh’s face.

“Didn’t play very well in the first half, but then we turned it up and played a lot better,” he said.

It was a two-woman show on the offensive end of the floor for the Wolves, with Audrianna Shaw (16 points) and Anya Leavell (12) combining to singe the nets.

They had plenty of help though, with Kylie Van Velkinburgh (9), Izzy Wells (7), Ella Colwell (4), Kiara Contreras (2), Abby Mulholland (2) and Ja’Kenya Hoskins (1) all rattling the rim.

7th grade:

Carolyn Lhamon dominated in the paint, throwing down 15 points to pace five Wolves who penned their name in the score-book.

She was backed up by Alita Blouin, who knocked down eight, Maya Lucero and Maddie Georges, who each tickled the nets for six and Gwen Gustafson, who banked home a bucket.

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   Lily Leedy was a defensive dynamo Monday, constantly disrupting Sequim’s offensive flow. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The fans got their money’s worth.

Coupeville and Sequim played three middle school girls basketball games Monday, and two of them came down to the final shot.

Unfortunately, for the Wolves, the visitors pulled out both of those bouts by the narrowest of margins, while CMS rebounded to romp to a win in game three.

The games were the home finale for Coupeville, which closes on the road next week against Blue Heron and Forks.

8th grade varsity:

The first time these schools met this season, Coupeville absorbed a rare blow-out loss, falling by 26.

This time around the Wolves mounted a ferocious second-half comeback, riding the hot shooting touch of Anya Leavell, but couldn’t make it all the way back.

A 13-3 fourth quarter run by CMS, with Leavell torching the nets for 10 of those points, cut the margin to 36-33, but Sequim held on thanks only to the clock running out.

While his team suffered a loss, dropping them to 4-4 on the season, Coupeville coach Dustin Van Velkinburgh walked away proud of his player’s inner fire.

“They stood tall and played really, really well in the second half,” he said. “We turned off their offense in the second half and gave ourselves a chance to win. Really good to see.”

Sequim jumped out to a 10-5 lead after one quarter, then stretched it to 24-12 at the break, but the second half was a different story.

With Kylie Van Velkinburgh taking the lead and clamping down on the visitor’s top shooter, Coupeville suffocated Sequim down the stretch.

Leavell took advantage, dropping a long three-ball to kick off the rally in the third, then pouring in buckets left and right in the fourth.

She finished with a game-high 17, while Audrianna Shaw (6), Ella Colwell (5), Izzy Wells (3) and Ja’Kenya Hoskins (3) rounded out the Wolf attack.

While praising his entire team, Dustin Van Velkinburgh offered a shout-out to Colwell, who “was in there fighting and had her best game of the season.”

7th grade varsity:

As wild as you can imagine, and then some.

In a game of epic mood swings, big three-balls and bodies frequently crashing to the floor, free throws decided the fate of the world in a 42-41 Sequim win in overtime.

The loss dropped Coupeville’s young guns to 6-2, with both defeats coming at the hands of the same team.

In a game where the Wolves trailed by nine at the half, then led by six with 90 seconds to play, Sequim found a way to win thanks to #15, a tall, very talented young woman who plays like a young Dirk Nowitzki.

Identified in the book by just her first name, Kendall, she could do it all – handle the ball, run the offense, hit the boards, be disruptive on defense, swish free throws without making the net move, and, this is the biggie, drill the three-ball.

Her biggest one, coming right after a Gwen Gustafson free throw pushed Coupeville’s lead to 36-33, tied the game and punched a hole right through the heart of Wolf Nation.

Did her foot drag across the line? That’s certainly arguable, but, instead of blaming a ref with a bad angle, give Kendall credit.

She wanted the shot, she took the shot, she made the shot.

Coupeville still had a chance to win in regulation, but couldn’t get the ball to drop, and once in overtime, neither team could hit a field goal.

Instead, the extra period was a rough-and-tumble affair filled with whistles and free throws, as all 11 points scored came at the charity stripe.

Alita Blouin, Nezi Keiper and Carolyn Lhamon combined to drain five freebies, but Sequim, which had made just five free throws in regulation, topped that in overtime.

Coupeville finished with a 20-11 advantage on made free throws, with Blouin draining nine.

The game took wild swings, with the Wolves jumping out to a 7-3 lead behind back-to-back buckets from Gustafson, before Kendall and Co. started rolling.

An 11-0 run gave Sequim the lead, and CMS failed to hit a field goal for the final 12 minutes of the first half.

Still, with Blouin driving hard to the hoop, then converting her free throws, the Wolves were somehow just in a single-digit deficit at 18-9 heading into the break.

Cue the madness that was the third quarter.

Maddie Georges broke Coupeville’s long cold streak from the field, draining a jumper from the right corner, and Coupeville was off on an 8-0 run.

Two steals from Kendall and Sequim countered with a 6-0 surge.

Coupeville’s answer?

Gustafson going nuclear, torching the nets for eight points, including two long treys, as CMS threw down 14 straight in a surge that started in the third and ended in the fourth.

Sequim finally stopped the bleeding, thanks to five points (a pair of free throws and a three-ball) from Kendall, but Georges answered with a bomb of her own from behind the arc.

It wasn’t to be, though, as the visitors used a runner in the paint and two free throws to set up the game-tying trey.

Which, again, probably should have been worth two points.

And yet, dang it, gotta give the kid credit for having ice water in her veins.

Gustafson paced Coupeville with 14, while Blouin popped for 11, Georges and Lhamon knocked down seven apiece and Keiper had two.

7th/8th grade JV:

Coupeville didn’t score for the first eight minutes-plus, and still won, riding a big second-half performance from Abby Mulholland en route to snaring an 18-10 win.

The Wolves couldn’t get a thing to drop in the first quarter, but Lily Leedy lit a fuse a few seconds into the second quarter and CMS was off and running.

The speedy ball-hawk knocked down a quick pair of buckets off of steals to knot things at 4-4, then Adrian Burrows gave Coupeville a lead it would never relinquish when she drained a pair of free throws.

While the first half was a low-scoring affair, things got a little spicier after the break, with Mulholland banging down five straight shots.

Two buckets came off of feeds from Leedy, and the capper came courtesy of a rebound and put-back.

Burrows added her own basket off a rebound to close the game and she and Leedy each finished with four points to back up Mulholland’s 10-point barrage.

While they didn’t score, Claire Mayne and Angelina Gebhard had a considerable impact on the game, as the duo were at the forefront of battles for loose balls, terrorizing Sequim’s ball-handlers all game.

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