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Archive for the ‘Girls Basketball’ Category

Basketball coach Alex Evans (red shirt) is making the jump from middle school to high school. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Alex Evans is movin’ on up.

After two seasons of coaching girls basketball for Coupeville Middle School, the former Wolf star is making the jump to join the staff of new Coupeville High School girls hoops coach Scott Fox.

Evans joins Megan Smith, already named as the JV coach.

Final approval will come from the school board.

“I’m real excited to add Alex to my coaching staff,” Fox said. “He brings a great passion for the game, along with the ability to connect and teach the athletes.

“Most of the tine you’ll see me sitting between Alex and Megan, using their knowledge about basketball and game strategy,” he added. “I’m really looking forward to all of us coaching together.”

During his playing days, Evans was a three-sport star for CHS, playing football, basketball, and baseball.

As a basketball coach, he worked with SWISH teams, then put in two highly-successful stints guiding middle school programs.

His 7th grade team went 8-2 in 2017-2018, then Evans moved up to run the 8th grade squad in 2018-2019, guiding that Wolf team to a 9-0 mark.

The trio of Fox, Smith, and Evans replace David and Amy King, who retired after a seven-year run in charge of the CHS girls hoops program.

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Ema Smith fires up the offense during a senior-season game. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sister Ciara is part of a large fan club for the ever-outgoing star.

Ema in her natural environment, entertaining everyone around her.

“I’m kind of a big deal, you know.”

Ema Smith is one cool cat.

In a sea of high school athletes, she stood out for many reasons, but the biggest was her attitude.

Nothing seemed to ruffle her all that much, even when she was down on the floor rippin’ arms off as she came away with every loose ball, every wayward rebound.

Ema played with intensity, fought with passion, always showed great heart and a willingness to step up in the big moment, regardless of the sport, but she never lost the grin.

The half-smirk, the wink and a nod to her coach, the whispered one-liner, complete with arched eyebrow, that made a tense teammate relax.

She is the closest thing Coupeville has to having its own Matthew McConaughey.

Talent carries you a certain distance, hard work takes you the rest of the way, but attitude – how you conduct yourself, how you handle your business – is what sets true legends apart from the crowd.

It’s what makes the people in the stands remember you always.

And no one is going to forget Ema anytime soon.

She arrived in town as a middle schooler, red hair flashing in the sun as she leaned out the passenger window of the family car, firing off finger guns at passerby and intoning “Alright, alright, alright.”

OK, maybe not, but Ema did become part of the fabric of Wolf athletics in less than 2.1 seconds, immediately contributing to every team she played on.

From the softball diamond, where she was a hard-hitting warrior until injuries slowed her roll (but just a bit), to the soccer pitch, the track oval, and the basketball hard-court, she was a star who soared even higher by being willing to accept her role.

That carried over off the field, where Ema has been one of the quickest to embrace younger athletes coming up behind her.

When she couldn’t take the softball field herself, she stepped into the dugout and worked as a volunteer with little league squads.

During her own basketball season, Ema worked the scorer’s table at middle school games, offering advice and (frequent) hugs to the girls who would one day replace her in the CHS lineup.

Theses days she’s the swim instructor with the biggest fan club, spreading the love some more in the weeks leading up to her departure to college.

Of course, there’s her photo game, as well, where Ema excelled as both a subject and the person operating the camera.

She shot a ton of photos across several Booster Club Crab Feeds, and they showcased an already-assured eye.

Some people just point and click, but Ema is already telling stories with her camera. She knows how to draw out her subjects, and captures images which captivate the viewer.

Put her in front of the camera, and she rivaled all-time greats like the “Photo Bomb Queens” themselves, McKayla, McKenzie and Mollie Bailey.

Ema never met a photo she couldn’t be a part of, on or off the field, and losing her to college is a major blow for Coupeville Sports as it hunts for those sweet, sweet page views.

Of course, at the top of all of this, is her performance while in uniform.

If her body had held up, Ema could have played a crucial role for a CHS softball program which has reached new heights in recent years.

But, while that wasn’t meant to be, her impact on the Wolf basketball squad can’t be denied.

A deft passer, a strong rebounder, and a defender with a nice little chip on her shoulder, Ema could also put the ball in the basket on a regular basis.

While playing with top-notch scorers like Lindsey Roberts and Mikayla Elfrank limited her touches at times, she always stepped up and took advantage of her opportunities.

A deadly threat from behind the three-point arc, Ema carried the team for a stretch during her senior season, especially when a crunched finger sent Roberts to the ER.

That injury came in a game down in the wilds of Sultan, a contest Coupeville desperately needed to win, to snap a losing skid and hold on to a top playoff slot.

Roberts was hospital-bound, the Turk fans were shaking the roof of the gym, the Wolves needed a spark, and whammo, Miss Cool Cat picked up the ball and went to work.

Scoring six of her game-high 14 in the fourth, Ema drilled a jumper, flipped a running layup through a maze of defenders, then banked home another bucket while three Turks hung all over her.

A big-time performance delivered under the blazing glare of the spotlight, it lifted CHS to a season-defining win.

By the time she finished, Ema retired with 228 career points, making her the #48 all-time scorer in modern Wolf girls hoops history, a period which stretches from 1974-2019.

But, as shown in the Sultan game, it wasn’t how many points she scored, but when she scored them.

And that we know, that, after that game, she probably fist-bumped every single person in the Sultan gym, including the locals, as she exited, mega-grin on her face, enjoying every last moment.

Ema is truly a one-of-a-kind person, both as an athlete and a young woman, and she will go far in life.

That we here in Central Whidbey got to experience a slice of her story was sweet. As she gets ready to go write the next chapter, we want to take a moment to honor her.

Her induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame today is based on many things.

Ema has stats, she has talent, she has fight and desire, but, most of all, she’s got that elusive quality that makes someone truly memorable.

After this, when you look at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, she’ll be easy to find.

She’ll be the one everyone else gravitates toward, cause she’s a star, baby. Now and forever.

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Sarah Wright, softball terminator. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Get you someone who looks at you the way Wright looks at confetti.

The Wright Express comes in hot.

“You’re running … ON ME???? Oh, you foolish child!”

A prairie legend forever.

Sarah Wright is a tornado of fun.

She blows through, rips up the joint, throws the furniture up on the roof, but leaves everyone smiling afterwards.

As I have covered her exploits through the years, from youth sports, to middle school, and then on through four fast n’ furious years of high school, she was as entertaining an athlete as any I’ve ever seen.

Talented? Without a doubt.

But with Sarah, it was always about how much fun she was having out there, whether it be a pressure-packed game at the state tournament, or a random practice on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of the season.

She worked her tail off, fought for success, screamed her lungs out, and got every last scrap of enjoyment she could from her sports.

Volleyball to soccer, basketball to her truest love of them all, softball, Wright never lost the joy little league athletes have, even when she was finally old enough to work as their hitting coach.

Whether she was threatening to eat worms while watching her JV teammates play, laughing until she could barely stand, or feeding seagulls in the parking lot in between state playoff games, running and giggling as the birds pecked at her sandwich, Sarah was, and is, pure giddy joy.

Not that she couldn’t be deadly serious, mind you.

Wright sacrificed her body, time and again, and when it was time to compete, she wanted to win as badly as she wanted to enjoy life in her down time.

As a softball catcher, she bore the brunt of long hours hunched down in the dirt.

Her hands stinging from knocking down wayward balls, her body sore from standing tall and taking the brunt of the explosion when rival players were dumb enough to try and knock her down during plays at the plate.

During her travel ball tournaments, or during Coupeville’s playoff runs, you would see Sarah walk away, looking like a (sometimes very tired) warrior.

Eye black on, smeared by sweat and dirt, her uniform streaked in dust, her mitt in one hand, her mask in the other, she resembled a gladiator coming back from the pits and you knew she left a trail of bodies behind her.

And then, two steps later, she’d suddenly start laughing, and by the time she reached the dugout she was singing in a voice which carried across the field.

I watched Sarah win big games during her career, and take some tough losses, but, in the end, whether her heart was soaring or breaking, she was happy to be in that uniform, to have that mitt and mask, to just play.

She was a solid volleyball player, a take-charge soccer goalie, a pounder in the paint on the basketball court, but she was at home on the softball diamond.

She loved it, and it loved her back.

Knowing Sarah gets to play college softball, even if it will be far away from Coupeville, makes me happy.

It means she gets to keep cracking tape-measure home runs.

Or bashing doubles that she turns into triples, legs pounding as she comes crashing into third-base in a giant cloud of dust, followed by her looking up at CHS coach Kevin McGranahan with a huge grin and saying “I told you I’d make it … Keeeeevvvvviiiiinnn.”

She’ll be zinging throws from behind the plate, sprawled out, firing off the wrong leg and, somehow, still nailing straying runners.

“Another notch on the ol’ gun belt there, Kevin, my boy!”

Sarah stepped onto the CHS softball field and was a starter at the hardest position from day one of her freshman season.

The only thing which kept her waiting that long was the silly Washington state high school rule book, which prevented her from playing varsity high school ball during her middle school days.

Swap rule books with a state like Kentucky and she would have been making rival high school coaches rip out their hair back when she was 12.

Through it all, as Wright came within a play or two of making it to state as a sophomore and junior, then got over the hump as a senior, she was a bonafide leader.

Vocal, the very definition of loud ‘n proud, whether in the dugout, face first in the prairie dust, or running through the parking lot as the Seagull Queen, she will never truly be replaced.

Yes, someone else will be behind the plate next season, and in the years to come.

Hopefully they will have strong careers, and, hopefully, they will enjoy their days on the diamond as much as Sarah did hers.

But you don’t truly replace the legends.

Whether it’s Hailey Hammer, or Breeanna Messner, or Wright, after they’re gone, you can close your eyes the next time you’re in the stands at the CHS diamond, and you will see them still out there playing.

For now, she leaves her field, her town, but she’s not truly going anywhere, because our memories of her will last.

There was never really a doubt Sarah would one day be walking (actually, sprinting while giggling and throwing sandwich bits in the air) into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

I knew it when I watched her play in middle school and little league, and nothing changed my mind as she traveled her journey.

So, after this, you’ll find her at the top of the blog, up under the Legends tab.

And, you’ll find her in the memories of Wolf fans.

Long after her last high school award, her final banquet, the last time she took off a Wolf uniform she wore with genuine pride and joy, Sarah will still be out there, gunnin’ and grinnin’ as the sun sets across the prairie.

Covered in dirt from head to toe, tackling her teammates in joy, standing on the dugout bench, batting helmet jammed backwards on her head, screaming “GET OFF HER, BALL!!!,” having the time of her life.

There is only one Sarah Wright, and we were very lucky to have her.

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Get your car washed Saturday and help support the basketball dreams of Wolf players like Hannah Davidson. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Do you want to disappoint Chelsea Prescott or Avalon Renninger or, heaven forbid, the captain herself, Scout Smith?

I didn’t think so.

There are a ton of talented players involved in the Coupeville High School girls basketball program, and they need your help as fundraising season rages.

The Wolves will be at People’s Bank (right behind the Coupeville Country Store on S. Main as you come off the highway) Saturday from 9:00-3:00, holding a car wash.

So, it’s a win-win for you.

Get your car lookin’ spiffy.

Help hard-working basketball players.

Keep the circle of life churning.

Easy-breezy.

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Maya Lucero keeps busy with a wide variety of activities, from playing three sports to participating in drama, band, and Girl Scouts. (Photos courtesy Jess Lucero)

Catching some quality time with dad Aaron on the softball diamond.

“I’m super busy, but I thrive on that.”

Try and keep a list of everything Maya Lucero does, and you’ll eventually end up flipping the paper over and still be writing.

Let’s just say Lucero, who will join twin sister Allie as freshmen at Coupeville High School this fall, likes to stay active.

She played basketball, volleyball, and softball through middle school and before, and plans to remain a three-sport athlete as she switches out CMS uniforms for CHS ones.

Toss in appearing in theater productions, playing trumpet in the band, Girl Scouts, cooking and baking, playing with her dog, going to the beach, and hanging out with friends and family, and Lucero’s schedule is booked.

But staying busy has helped her build a strong work ethic, something which has benefited her greatly in the past, and should continue to do so in the future.

“Some of my strengths as an athlete include my focus, commitment to my sports, and loyalty to my teammates and coaches,” Lucero said. “Being so dedicated is important, but not always easy.

“I always honor my obligations for team practices, volunteer work, training, and camps.”

That includes a recent four-day basketball camp in Soap Lake, “so I couldn’t submit my answers to you until now…,” she said with a laugh.

Lucero, who is following in the footsteps of older bother Dane, a 2019 Coupeville grad who was also a three-sport star, has been around athletics her entire life.

Dad Aaron is an assistant coach with the CHS baseball team, who pulled double duty this spring, working with Maya and Allie’s Central Whidbey Little League Juniors softball squad.

With the Lucero sisters ripping base-knocks to all fields, the young Wolves roared through a 13-1 season, and now will send a ferocious pack of hit-happy players on to the high school program.

Maya wants to “work my way to varsity, and to become stronger as an athlete,” and she credits her father with helping to shape her and fuel her dreams, both on and off the field.

“My dad has had one of the greatest impacts on me as a person and an athlete,” Lucero said. “He always pushes me to be my best, and has taught me mental toughness, perseverance, and determination.

“From the start, he has always supported me, led me through difficult times, and has always been at my side,” she added. “He is an amazing dad and softball coach.”

Lucero hails from a tight-knit, super-friendly family which includes mom Jess and two younger sisters, and having a large, loyal support crew is huge for the young Wolf.

Allie has also always been at my side and has always been there for me, no matter how hard things get sometimes,” Maya said. “Overall, my family has helped me to be my best self, and has always supported me and my passions.”

Lucero loves that sports allows her to be “active and competitive.”

And, while she approaches every season with joy, she’s clear – her #1 passion is being on the diamond every spring.

“Without a doubt, softball is my favorite sport of all,” Lucero said.

She’s played school and SWISH basketball, as well as school and club volleyball, but put a bat in her hand and she’s at home.

“It has been one of my greatest passions. I have been playing it since second grade, eight years old,” Lucero said. “I love softball because it’s not the type of sport that you can pick up easily.

“Softball is a difficult sport that teaches you determination, perseverance, to work hard, and to stay mentally tough. Not everyone can do that.

“I feel that softball is my strongest sport because I’ve played it longer, so I have a strong softball IQ.”

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