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Avalon Renninger had four points and six rebounds Saturday as the Coupeville varsity girls absorbed a tough road loss. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Legendary basketball coach George Raveling once said, “Life is about turning obstacles into opportunities.”

It’s a lesson the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team will need to embrace.

The Wolves looked like they were headed for their second-straight win Saturday, but took an unexpected left turn off a cliff with no parachute, watching in horror as their victory slipped away.

Able to score only seven points across the game’s final 16 minutes, Coupeville surrendered an eight-point advantage, tumbling to an unexpected 31-27 loss at Orcas Island.

The non-conference defeat drops the Wolves to 1-4 on the season.

With four days until their North Sound Conference opener at South Whidbey, it also presents them with a major gut-check moment.

“Now it’s up to us to turn things around,” said CHS coach David King. “Tonight’s game was an unexpected obstacle. This coming week will determine if we can turn it into opportunities.”

Despite a long day of bus and ferry travel to get to a far-flung outpost, Coupeville came out strongly, using its defensive press to disrupt the Orcas attack.

While they struggled a bit with turnovers, the Wolves did get going on offense in the second quarter, taking a 5-5 stalemate after one quarter and turning it into a 20-12 lead at the half.

Sophomore Chelsea Prescott and senior Ema Smith were a two-woman wrecking crew in the opening half, combining for 11 of their team’s points, with all of them coming in the second frame.

Prescott got hers the old-fashioned way, hitting three field goals, while Ema Smith stroked a three-ball and slipped a pair of free throws through the twines.

Toss in a pair of buckets from Avalon Renninger, a long trey off the fingertips of Scout Smith and a field goal from Lindsey Roberts, and CHS was beginning to click on the offensive end of the floor.

One of Renninger’s scores was especially highlight reel worthy.

A long pass intended for Roberts flew over her head as she charged down the sideline in pursuit.

Instead of giving up, the senior captain hit another gear only she has, saving the ball at the last millisecond (while crashing into the Orcas ticket-taker) and re-directing it towards her teammate.

Sprinting up the middle of the floor, Renninger, a professional ball-hawk, snatched the loose orb, pivoted and promptly banged home the bucket to complete an “all-out hustle play.”

Unfortunately for the Wolves, things dried up severely after that.

“Coming out for the third, everything went sideways,” King said. “We couldn’t take care of the ball, and, when we did, our offense slowed down to a snail’s pace.”

Coupeville went nearly five minutes into the second half without scoring, finally breaking through on a free throw from Prescott and a breakaway layup by Tia Wurzrainer.

And yet, despite tallying just three points in the third, the Wolves were holding on to the lead heading into the fourth.

But, up by four, they continued to stall on offense and didn’t help themselves at the free throw line, missing all five of their attempts in the final quarter.

“Orcas had taken the momentum from us; they kept fighting and got into the bonus and in the fourth they shot eight free throws and made four,” King said. “They also beat our press a couple of times with a full court dribble-drive that resulted in layups or getting to the free throw line.

“We played very well for about a quarter and a half,” he added. “The game is four quarters, and we just didn’t get it done and Orcas did.”

The way they lost, even more than the L itself, is what haunts the man at the helm.

“As a coach, this was a tough loss,” King said. “We can’t take possessions off — not keeping the ball moving — on offense. We turn the ball over 21 times, it’s going to show up in our ability to score.”

But there are still 13 regular season games left, including all 10 league contests, and Coupeville’s coach is confident his team can find its sweet spot.

“I was pleased with the press and the many deflections and our 16 steals,” King said. “Just need to convert those.

“We will see if we can correct some things,” he added. “We have to learn when we have a lead, we can’t let up.”

Prescott paced the Wolves with nine points, three rebounds and two steals, while Ema Smith (5), Renninger (4), Roberts (4), Scout Smith (3) and Wurzrainer (2) also scored.

Hannah Davidson and Renninger each snatched six rebounds, Ema Smith topped the stat sheet with five steals and Scout Smith doled out two assists.

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Casey Rogers leads off a collection of Wolf soccer photos I didn’t get to use during the season. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Avalon Renninger

Mollie Bailey

Megan Behan shoots up the field during the season-opening jamboree in Oak Harbor.

Maddy Hilkey

Mallory Kortuem

Knight Arndt

After four years as a stellar starter, Lindsey Roberts has left the pitch.

The games are done, but the sorting of the photos continues.

Over the course of a season, John Fisken (and a lot of parents) gift me with numerous pics, and not all get used before the final whistle sounds.

Today, we’re catching up on Coupeville High School girls soccer glossies, dropping in seven portraits and an action shot which haven’t previously seen the light of day.

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   Showcasing her ferocious serve, Avalon Renninger teamed up with fellow sophomore Tia Wurzrainer Monday to win in straight sets. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Small, but important steps.

A young, plucky and undermanned Coupeville High School girls tennis team didn’t get the win Monday, but it did flash a lot of positives.

The Wolves fell 5-2 to visiting Port Angeles, a large 2A school which carries 31 players on its full roster (double Coupeville’s body count).

But, having sunshine instead of howling wind and slashing rain on Opening Day was a good sign.

Brighter than the sun was the play of sophomore sensations Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer, who romped to a win at second doubles.

While Coupeville’s top doubles duo, seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger, were huge favorites and easily lived up to the hype with their own straight-sets victory, the younger Wolf aces were somewhat of an unknown entering the match.

Both Wurzrainer and Avalon Renninger had strong freshman years, but they are a new pairing as a doubles team, so there might have been some kinks to work out in their first official match.

Not so.

The left-handed Renninger controlled the match on her serve, zinging low, hard shots which bit a chunk out of the court as they skidded away from the Port Angeles netters.

Her running mate was particularly deft at the net, as Wurzrainer delighted her fervent fan club with a series of crisp put-aways.

Their play brought a quick smile to the face of longtime Coupeville net guru Ken Stange as he restlessly prowled the outside of the chain link fence.

With a solid line-up of doubles duos, the Wolves should give rival teams trouble all year long.

Singles is a little more of a work in progress, as CHS deals with the loss of its top three players from a year ago to graduation.

With Valen Trujillo and Co. off to pursue new avenues in life, Wolf freshman Genna Wright got a chance to jump right into the cauldron of playing first singles on opening day.

A naturally-talented athlete and one of the most gung-ho people on the planet Earth, the fab frosh was a First-Team All-Conference player in soccer and a one-woman wrecking crew in basketball.

While she might not have the same amount of experience in tennis as she does in her other sports, Wright came out swinging Monday, making her far more seasoned foe battle mightily for every point.

At one point, the two players went back and forth on a sustained rally, before the freshman dumped a back-hand winner just out of the reach of her rival.

Walking back to the service line, head down, hat pulled low, Wright wore a giddy grin, a star of tomorrow savoring a winner today.

Complete Monday results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Genna Wright lost to Summer Olsen 6-0, 6-1

2nd Singles — Heather Nastali lost to Hailey Horton 6-1, 6-0

3rd Singles — Nanci Melendrez lost to Kailey Droz 6-0, 6-0

1st Doubles — Payton Aparicio/Sage Renninger beat Saige Hefton/Casandra Shamp 6-0, 6-3

2nd Doubles — Avalon Renninger/Tia Wurzrainer beat Jocelyn Reifenstahl/Emily Metzeler 6-2, 6-1

3rd Doubles — Claire Mietus/Maggie Crimmins lost to Paulina Crawford/Madison Saiz 6-2, 6-2

4th Doubles — Jillian Mayne/Zara Bradley lost to Hanna Brown/Emily Rygaard 6-0, 5-3 (PA left to catch ferry)

JV:

5th Doubles — Elaira Nicolle/Megan Behan trailed 3-0 (ferry)

6th Doubles — Jaimee Masters/Emily Fiedler lost 6-2

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   Tia Wurzrainer netted five points Friday at Chimacum. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sometimes the score doesn’t tell all.

While the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad fell 33-25 at Chimacum Friday, Wolf coach Amy King looked beyond the numbers on the board.

“It was one of the best games JV has played this season,” the sage round-ball wizard said.

While the loss drops the young guns to 2-4 in Olympic League play, 6-10 overall, King was especially pleased with how her players have adapted in the past few days to facing withering defenses.

“Normally, when a team puts a press on us, we panic and rush everything and that results in turnovers,” she said. “For the past two practices we worked on slowing the ball down, spreading out more on the press break, passing more and dribbling less.

“This game, we did all those things that we practiced.”

With Ashlie Shank and Mollie Bailey doing “a great job passing back and forth up the court,” the Wolves showed off some of the “best passing we have done this season.”

With plenty of open shots to be had in the first half, the Wolves jumped out to a 6-4 lead at the first break, then went in tied 12-12 at the half.

Unfortunately, CHS lost Avalon Renninger, as the sophomore spark plug got knocked silly when a Chimacum player plowed right through her.

Adding insult to injury, not only did the Wolf star have to leave the game and go into concussion protocol after hitting her head, the refs also called a foul on her, and not the offensive player imitating a freight train going down a mountain decline with no brakes.

Even playing a woman down, Coupeville regained the lead in the third, with Maddy Hilkey, Tia Wurzrainer and Ashlie Shank all coming up with big shots.

Wurzrainer, who lives, dies and excels on defense, netted hers after a sizzling set-up pass from Bailey and some open encouragement from the varsity coach.

Mollie made a great pass to Tia and she can hear Mr. (David) King from the bench say “shoot it” and well, if he says to, you do,” Amy King said with a laugh. “She shot it, made it and got a free throw as well.”

The game took a turn for the worse in the fourth, though, as Chimacum reverted to its standard style of “beat the ball-handler black and blue.”

“The game started getting rough,” King said. “Ashlie got pushed out of bounds, flying across the floor. No call. Mollie had visible red on her arm from being slapped. No call.

“We start getting tensed up and they capitalized on the errors we made.”

A 21-18 lead to start the fourth slipped away in a hail of non-calls and questionable decisions from the refs.

Despite playing against more than just the five rivals on the floor, the young Wolves never quit.

“The girls fought and never let down,” King said. “Once the game ended, we were all disappointed, but, during the post game talk, it was determined that we played a really good game despite the score.

“Our passing was great. We took the right shots, broke their press easier than the last time and everyone worked hard,” she added. “We see them one more time on our home court and will continue to work hard to have a different outcome.”

Shank paced the Wolves with eight, Hilkey (6), Wurzrainer (5), Bailey (2), Genna Wright (2) and Lester (2) also scored and Kylie Chernikoff and Julia García Oñoro combined for four rebounds.

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   Avalon Renninger, already a star on the soccer field, netted her first varsity basketball point Saturday at Meridian. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Avalon Renninger is a made woman.

The Coupeville High School sophomore drained a fourth-quarter free throw Saturday at Meridian, officially notching her first varsity basketball point.

And that was the end of the highlights for the Wolves.

Well, OK, there might have been a few more, but not a whole lot.

Playing a brutally-efficient hoops powerhouse, an undermanned Coupeville squad put up a spirited fight, but fell 59-21.

The non-conference loss drops the Wolves to 4-11 on the season.

After this, things get serious, as CHS, 2-2 in Olympic League play (and sitting a half-game off of Chimacum and Port Townsend, who are 3-2), closes with five of its final six against conference foes.

First up is Klahowya (1-3), which visits Whidbey Tuesday (varsity 3:30, JV 5:15).

Before getting into the heart of league play, Coupeville, which played Saturday without two of its top three scorers (Mikayla Elfrank and Ema Smith), got to face a test under extreme duress.

After playing four games at last year’s state tourney, Meridian returned seven seniors and the Trojans have blitzed to an 11-2 mark this season.

Their only losses have been to Lynden Christian (13-0) and La Center (12-1), and they are a team with dreams of making a run at state tourney glory.

“Meridian is a well-oiled machine,” was the understatement of the year, delivered by Coupeville coach David King.

His Wolves only played eight girls total, with ankle injuries haunting Elfrank and Smith. Those who were able to hit the floor went down fighting, however.

“There were some bright spots on the offensive end, especially against their press,” King said. “Meridian is not only quick, but fast.

“We wanted to try to slow the pace of the game and not allow their pressure to speed us up,” he added. “Tonight we did that.”

Mixing things up, King had Sarah Wright handling most of the in-bounds plays, and the combo of her smart throw-ins and her teammates aggressively coming to meet the ball helped greatly.

And while the Trojans clamped down on defense, so did Coupeville, which held Meridian scoreless for nearly three minutes to open the game.

“It was good defense on our part and balls rimming in and out for them,” King said.

Wright was an equal opportunity ace all night, leading Coupeville with nine points, including netting three first-quarter free throws off of the same foul when she was hammered on a three-ball attempt.

While those were the only points the Wolves scored in the opening eight minutes, CHS was still relatively in the game at the first break, trailing just 13-3.

That changed in the second, when Meridian took advantage of Wright and Lindsey Roberts falling into foul trouble.

With the Wolves one-two punch sidelined for stretches of time, the Trojans pushed the lead to 25 at the half and 35 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was Coupeville’s best stand, as it was outscored just 11-8.

“We were still battling and making some good offensive adjustments,” King said. “Post game we talked about the experience and that Meridian is a very good basketball team. We can learn from them with their court awareness and calm demeanor.

“Overall, it’s a loss,” he added. “However, I think we grew a little today and the players recognize that.”

Wright paced the Wolves with nine points and four rebounds, while Roberts added eight points, four boards and two steals.

Senior Kyla Briscoe netted a three-ball, while racking up four rebounds, three steals and an assist, and Renninger’s free throw rounded out the scoring.

Allison Wenzel (three rebounds and an assist), Hannah Davidson (three rebounds), Scout Smith (two rebounds and an assist) and Chelsea Prescott (two rebounds) also saw floor time for the Wolves.

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