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Posts Tagged ‘1A Olympic League’

   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.”

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   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.”

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   Dane Lucero and Coupeville are shooting for success. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The first shots have been fired.

Week two of the basketball season featured the first showdown between Olympic League foes, with Port Townsend and Chimacum getting together for a doubleheader.

The RedHawks and Cowboys split the twin-bill, leaving, for the moment, two different schools atop the very-early league standings.

For Coupeville, it’s all been about non-conference play so far, but that’s about to change.

The Wolves get a taste, but just a taste, of league action Tuesday when they face off with Port Townsend.

Then they don’t return to conference play until Jan. 6.

For the CHS girls, the match-up with the RedHawks gives them an opportunity to kick off a bid for a fourth-straight league title.

The Wolf boys, meanwhile, would like to fire an early warning shot at Port Townsend, which is the defending champs on that side of the ball.

Varsity scoring stats and league standings through Dec. 10:

Girls:

Mikayla Elfrank 68
Kalia Littlejohn 38
Lindsey Roberts 36
Kyla Briscoe 15
Sarah Wright 15
Ema Smith 13
Scout Smith 13

Boys:

Hunter Smith 69
Ethan Spark 40
Joey Lippo 10
Hunter Downes 7
Dane Lucero 4
Jered Brown 3
Cameron Toomey-Stout 3
Jacobi Pacquette-Pilgrim 1

Standings:

Olympic League girls basketball:

School League Overall
Chimacum 1-0 2-1
COUPEVILLE 0-0 1-5
Klahowya 0-0 1-3
Port Townsend 0-1 0-4

Olympic League boys basketball:

School League Overall
Port Townsend 1-0 2-2
COUPEVILLE 0-0 1-3
Klahowya 0-0 0-4
Chimacum 0-1 0-4

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   Coupeville’s athletic future, like this basketball, is up for grabs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

First, the bomb hit. Now, the hot takes are raining down, as everyone and their mother chimes in with an opinion.

If you were asleep at the wheel Wednesday, here’s the break-down:

Coupeville High School is leaving the 1A Olympic League at the end of the school year. Come next fall, Wolf athletes will have a new batch of rivals.

Washington state divides athletics into six classifications (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B and 1B), and, moving forward, CHS has two primary options.

One, which is ongoing, is a bid to move back down to 2B, where Coupeville lived and prospered for decades.

CHS has always been one of the smallest 1A schools in the state, and, currently, its student body numbers for grades 9-11 fit nicely into 2B parameters.

But, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association classification counts last for four years. With the last one in 2016, Coupeville is locked-in as a 1A school until 2020 … unless the WIAA grants a reprieve.

That decision arrives Jan. 28.

If CHS gets approval, it’s likely bound for its old time stomping grounds, the Northwest League, which currently houses 2B schools La Conner, Concrete, Darrington, Orcas Island and Friday Harbor and 1B Mount Vernon Christian.

Instead of giving up 75-250 students to almost all of our main rivals, we would be facing schools which are mirror images of Coupeville. Or, in a lot of cases, smaller.

Plus, it would reignite long-time rivalries with schools that current Wolf athlete’s parents and grandparents once faced on a regular basis.

If the WIAA says no, you’re 1A until 2020, then CHS likely heads in the direction of its other old time stomping grounds, the Cascade Conference.

Or, more appropriately, what is rising from that league’s ashes.

King’s, Granite Falls, Sultan, South Whidbey and Granite Falls (all 1A schools if Granite Falls gets WIAA approval to drop down from 2A) have defected, shedding 2A schools Cedarcrest and Archbishop Thomas Murphy.

Next fall, those five schools (and possibly Coupeville) will launch the 1A North Sound Conference.

Reuniting with Island arch-rival South Whidbey in a league setting is the main selling point of that scenario. Also, there’s always something to be said for competing at the highest possible level.

I know what direction I hope we go in, but, since there’s a poll below, I’m staying neutral.

So, here’s where I ask you, the reader, what do you hope to see?

The decision will come down to the WIAA and Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith.

The former is a fickle master (witness its fleeting “punishment” of Bellevue football), but I have complete faith in the latter, so we’re good.

But, until our path is set, you can vent and dream and argue all you want. So get at it. Choose what you want Coupeville’s next athletic adventure to be.

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   Jake Pease and the rest of Coupeville’s underclassmen will jump to a new league next school year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Change is in the air.

After a very-successful four-year run in the 1A Olympic League, in terms of wins, titles and confidence restored, Coupeville High School is swapping leagues.

Now the question is which direction CHS goes in — down to 2B, where it thrived for many years, or to a new 1A league formed out of the smoldering ruins of its former home in the Cascade Conference.

Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Wednesday the school would leave the Olympic League at the end of the 2017-2018 school year and outlined the wide-open future.

In his words:

Coupeville has decided to leave the Olympic League (high school) and North Olympic League (middle school) for the following reasons:

**Out of class time for students: we are very often leaving the school at 11:00-12:00 and not returning until 9:30 at night.

During district tournaments the return times are often much later, as the majority of the tournaments are in the Tacoma area (and this year fast-pitch will be traveling to Lacey to play their tourney) requiring us to take the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry at a much later time.

**Cost: we were over our transportation budget by over $15,000 last year due to the use of the ferry for every away league game in HS, every away game in MS, many non-league away games with the 2A’s of the Olympic League, travel to/from district events in Tacoma, and staying overnight for district tournaments that were two-day tourneys that played on back-to-back days.

**Scheduling: we have to schedule games around the PT/Keystone ferry schedule. Neither the ferry or reservation system works as consistently as we need and we had multiple re-schedules as well as cancellations due to ferry-related issues.

In addition, the 1A’s were planning on reducing the number of league games we played each from three to two, which would result in trying to find an inordinate amount of non-league games for each season.

As an example: in a 20-game season (basketball, baseball, fast-pitch) we would only have 6/20 league games and trying to find 14 non-league games to fill the schedule.

The resulting schedule would not be consistent in days we play, number of games per week, and more importantly, in meaningful league games.

So what’s our path?

We are at the end of the first two years of the WIAA four-year cycle, which means we can apply for two things: re-classification or joining another league; we are doing both.

Our current grades 9-11 enrollment is below the 2B cutoff and we are in process of appealing to the WIAA to move into the 2B classification.

We will not find out their decision until January 28th.

If approved, we would then apply to join the Northwest 2B League (Concrete, Darrington, La Conner, Friday Harbor, Orcas Island).

We don’t know what the WIAA will consider as significant change in enrollment, as this is the first time the WIAA has ever had to render these decisions.

Neither myself or WIAA representatives can really speak to whether we have a legitimate chance of winning the appeal but we are appealing.

We have had a long history of playing all of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

We have also inquired and have begun the process of looking into joining the newly formed 1A North Sound Conference, which currently consists of Sultan, South Whidbey, Granite Falls (appealing to drop from 2A to 1A), King’s, and Cedar Park Christian.

We have had a long history of playing the majority of these teams and play them in non-league games on a regular basis, so it’s not really a stretch for us to move in this direction.

It’s a 1A only league, which we have not been in for over 10 years.

Nothing, other than exiting the Olympic League at the conclusion of this year, is set, and even that needs approval from District 3, District 1, and the WIAA, which should happen, but is not always 100%.

There are a lot of documentation, hearings, and legwork that is currently being done, and will continue to be done before anything firm happens.

I would like to add that I have nothing but positive things to say about the Olympic League and its Athletic Directors.

They brought us in and re-worked an entire league in order to make it happen for Coupeville at a time when we desperately needed a change.

It helped our programs get healthy again, kids turning out, and we have had a lot of successes in the Olympic League.

But, and very importantly, it comes down to what is best for our schools and our kids.

The amount of time and school our kids miss coupled with the reality of the costs has really made us (coaches, administration) look at where we were at and a change was something that needed to occur.

Prior to bringing in four 1A schools in 2014 — Coupeville, Klahowya, Port Townsend and Chimacum — the Olympic League was a 2A conference.

In the three-plus seasons of the 1A division, Coupeville has won 11 league titles and claimed 153 varsity wins against its three 1A foes.

Girls basketball and tennis, which have yet to lose a league contest, each own three titles. Volleyball (2), boys tennis (2) and baseball (1) also have added to the school’s Wall of Honor.

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