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   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.

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   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:

8th:

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

7th:

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

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   CMS 8th grader Katelin McCormick is counting down the days until her season starts Feb. 15. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.com)

The 7th grade Wolves pause for a group snap.

   7th grader Maddie “Mad Dog” Georges is ready to make her middle school hoops debut.

   The Wolf 8th grade squad includes a number of players from a very-successful SWISH hoops team which won a league title recently.

   Anya Leavell enters her 8th grade hoops season coming off of a strong SWISH campaign.

Like ships passing in the night.

High school basketball is headed down the backstretch, with playoffs starting this week, but middle school hoops are far from done.

Having taken control of the court, the Wolf girls kick off their 10-game season Feb. 15 with home games against Chimacum.

As they get ready under the direction of coaches Dustin Van Velkinburgh and Alex Evans, we have a sneak peak at (most of) the Wolves.

While not every player was in attendance when photos were snapped, the majority of them took time to meet with John Fisken, and the result can be seen above.

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   Alex (left) and Xavier Murdy, who both had strong seasons for CMS, hang out with their shooting coach. (Photo courtesy Michele Murdy)

That’s all they wrote.

Ending their season deep on the road at Port Angeles Wednesday, the Coupeville Middle School boys hoops squads ran into a cutthroat rival in ginormous Stevens.

Somewhat predictably, it wasn’t a particularly thrilling finale for the over-matched Wolves, with both varsity and JV being knocked off.

If nothing else, it’s the last time the CMS boys are likely to face Stevens, which funnels students to a large 2A high school and is the rare middle school to have tryouts and cuts for their basketball teams.

With Coupeville jumping out of the Olympic League at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, it will also leave behind the stitched-together middle school version of that league.

Currently, the Wolf middle school athletes play against two schools — Stevens and Sequim — which support 2A schools, along with Port Townsend, Chimacum and the-school-at-the-end-of-the-world, Forks.

Varsity:

Less than 24 hours after pushing Seqium to the final shot, Coupeville stayed competitive with Stevens, which built its 12-man roster off of 50-man tryouts.

Unfortunately, the game slipped away in the second half, with the hosts collecting a 56-41 win.

The loss drops the Wolves final record to 6-4.

Caleb Meyer led the way with 14, while Logan Martin and Xavier Murdy hit eight apiece.

Hawthorne Wolfe (4), Gabe Shaw (3), Aiden Burdge (2), Grady Rickner (2) and Cody Roberts all played their final middle school hoops game, and will bounce up to high school ball next year.

JV:

Damon Stadler accounted for 60% of Coupeville’s offense, dropping in nine in a 57-15 loss.

The young, very inexperienced second squad finished the year at 1-9, with their lone win coming against Chimacum.

Ty Hamilton knocked in four and Alex Wasik drained a bucket to round out the scoring.

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   Gabe Shaw played strongly in two games Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net) 

One was over quickly, one came down to the final shot.

The two Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads closed out their final appearance on their home court Wednesday in very different fashions.

The Wolf JV fell 59-25 to visiting Sequim, while the CMS varsity came within a final, desperate three-point bomb of upending their rivals in a wild 53-50 battle royal.

Both Coupeville teams wrap the season with a trip to Port Angeles Thursday to face ginormous Stevens.

Varsity:

Not a good game for those with heart conditions.

It started with a bang — Logan Martin hitting a rain of shots as Coupeville jumped out to a 9-0 lead — got dicey in the second half, then turned crazy in the final quarter, as the teams combined for almost 40% of the night’s points in the final eight minutes.

In the early going, everything was one smooth groove for the Wolves.

Martin took, and hit, the first three shots, a fall-away jumper, a soft fader and a three-ball from the left side, before Hawthorne Wolfe did his best ballerina imitation, snaring a rebound and twirling between defenders to lay the ball back up and in.

Even after Sequim finally got untracked on the offensive end, CMS had a quick answer.

Wolfe netted a pair of treys to cap the first quarter and Martin came back to end the half by banking a shot high off the glass.

As his bucket dropped through, the Wolves headed to the locker room up 23-16 and in control of things.

It didn’t last, though.

Coupeville’s shooting touch vanished for a quarter, and Sequim took advantage, using an 18-7 run in the third to take the lead for the first time.

Cody Roberts had a sweet running bucket, set up by a long airmail pass from Wolfe, but the Wolves struggled at the free throw line and, for the first time all night, started losing the war on the boards.

Trailing 34-30 as the fourth quarter dawned, Coupeville rallied to tie things at 38 when Wolfe splashed home his second three-ball of the quarter, and fifth of the game.

But, as quickly as the tie came, it went away.

In the matter of maybe a minute and a half, even if it felt more like two seconds, Sequim seemingly blew the game wide open.

A pair of three-balls later, a 9-1 surge by the visitors pushed the Wolf deficit to 47-39.

Game over and … X-Man has launched!

Xavier Murdy drilled back-to-back treys of his own to give Coupeville hope, then Aiden Burdge went and got crazy to light the fuse on the home crowd.

First he nailed a three-ball from the top with 32 seconds left, before picking the pocket of a Sequim ball-handler and feeding Caleb Meyer for a layup with 22 ticks to play.

Back within 51-50, the Wolves came with an aggressive look on defense, but couldn’t get the steal and had to foul to stop the clock.

To the delight of the three (loud) Sequim fans in attendance, the visitors tuned out the din of the local supporters and dropped both freebies through the net to force CMS to find a miracle.

And the Wolves almost did.

Wolfe got a good look at the bucket, and his three-ball from the left side hit the rim once, popped up, hit it a second time, swirled around and then, to the wails of his rabid fans, ricocheted away.

At which point, Sequim’s bench players rushed the court like it was Game 7 of the NBA finals, celebrating a come-from-behind win which gave them a split this season with Coupeville’s 8th graders.

The loss snaps a five-game winning streak for the CMS varsity, and they sit at 6-3 heading into their finale.

Wolfe finished with a game-high 17, while Martin banged home 11.

Murdy (8), Meyer (7), Burdge (5), Roberts (2) and Gabe Shaw rounded out the very-thin Wolf roster, while Sequim had a deep enough bench to sub in five at a time.

JV:

There was a moment when this game seemed like it would be a back-and forth affair. Then that evaporated.

Damon Stadler tore down a rebound, pounded the ball the length of the court and slapped home a layup a minute into the second quarter, pulling the Wolves within 9-8.

Part of a 9-3 run which featured scores from Isaiah BittnerShaw and Burdge — the latter coming on a swooping steal of an in-bounds pass — it positioned CMS well.

And then the much-more polished Sequim 7th grade squad struck, and struck hard.

Throwing down 11 straight points, then adding another seven after Wolf guard Alex Murdy briefly stopped the bleeding with a bank shot, the visitors put the game out of reach well before the halftime break.

Coupeville had a couple of quality plays in the late going, with Dominic “The Destroyer” Coffman drilling a three-ball and Tony Garcia rambling through the paint for a bucket on a nice spin move, but there were no comebacks on this afternoon.

The Wolves spread their offense around, with nine different players getting in on the fun.

Bittner, Murdy and Stadler led the way with four apiece, while Coffman (3), Burdge (2), Garcia (2), Shaw (2), Alex Wasik (2) and Ty Hamilton (2) also scored.

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