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South Whidbey’s Kody Newman (22) was named Wednesday to the AP All-State boys basketball team.

They noticed us.

When big-city newspaper types pick high school all-star teams, they often hyper-focus on players who made it to the state tourney, or fall back on those who live in large, urban areas.

But someone must have done their research, because Wednesday, when the Associated Press announced its 2018-2019 All-State basketball teams, there was Whidbey Island sitting right on the same line with Seattle and Lynden.

South Whidbey senior guard Kody Newman, who burned down gyms all season while shooting three-balls from the parking lot, not only made the lineup, he was picked for the first team.

Lynden Christian’s hugely-hyped Cole Bajema, who is off to Michigan on a hoops scholarship next year, was tabbed as the 1A boys player of the year.

Joining the Lync star on the First Team were Newman, Antonio Salinas (Zillah), Mason Landdeck (Cashmere) and Hunter Ecklund (La Center).

Newman, who is bringing a stellar four-year prep sports career to a close this spring with one last tour of duty on the baseball field, scored his 1,000th point on the high school hardwood against Coupeville.

It came on a long three-ball, and, just to make things interesting, it’s believed he shot the ball with his eyes closed to up the danger factor.

True story.

Newman wasn’t the only Wolf foe honored Wednesday, just the one to get the biggest props.

Freshman Tyler Linhardt of King’s and junior Irena Korolenko of Cedar Park Christian were tabbed as Honorable Mention selections.

Oumou Toure, a senior at 3A Kamiakin, and Anton Watson, a senior at 4A Gonzaga Prep, were the state players of the year across all classifications (4A-2B).

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Nezi Keiper (in white, with ball) and the CMS 8th grade hoops squad went 9-0 this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The final performance? Impeccable.

Fighting through rampant illness, then enduring a bus trip to the wilds of Granite Falls Tuesday, the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball teams closed their seasons with a bang.

Two wins, one of which capped an undefeated season for a Wolf squad, and a narrow loss in the third game, was the order of the day.

How it played out:

 

8th grade varsity:

Granite came out swinging (literally), but was no match for the Wolves, who cruised home with a 44-26 win to seal the deal on a flawless 9-0 season.

As the game progressed, at least three Coupeville stars were left seeing … stars, as Alita Blouin took an elbow to the eye, Maddie Georges had her nose rearranged, and Gwen Gustafson was body-slammed to the floor.

That last melee drew a technical foul on the hosts, but all the bangs and bruises in the world were no match for the high-flying Wolves.

Blouin, living up to her nickname of “The Assassin,” rained down unholy pain on Granite, torching the joint for a season-high 15 points.

The slash-and-destroy guard scored in every quarter, tossing in five field goals, ruffling the nets for a pair of free-throws, then stabbing Granite through the heart with a three-ball.

Coupeville is far from a one-woman team, however, with its top four scorers finishing within nine points of each other this season.

Tuesday, while Blouin was slashing to the hoop and popping from outside, Coupeville’s dominant post players, Carolyn Lhamon and Nezi Keiper, were the perfect complement, throwing down 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Up 10-7 at the first break, with four players already in the scoring column, the Wolves steadily built the lead from there.

With coach Alex Evans pulling all the right strings, and every player on the floor attacking relentlessly, CMS surged to a 23-12 lead at the half, before shoving the margin out to 35-19 heading into the fourth.

Seven of the 10 players to see action scored, led by the trio in double figures.

Georges, Gustafson, Ryanne Knoblich, and Jill Prince rounded out the attack, with a bucket apiece, while Hayley Fielder, Jordyn Rogers, and Jessenia Camarena also saw floor time.

 

7th grade varsity:

The only loss of the day, but a nail-biter until the end.

“We were always just right there; just needed one more minute!,” said CMS coach Megan Smith. “But proud of the way the girls played.”

The 24-19 loss drops Coupeville’s final record to 2-8, but that’s a bit deceptive.

Smith’s top two scoring threats, Brionna Blouin and Lauren Marrs, only played together six times during the 10-game schedule, as illness had other plans for the Wolf duo.

Tuesday was one of those six games, and they proved how potent they can be when they get a chance to work together.

Marrs went off for a game-high 13, scoring in every quarter and netting a three-ball, while Blouin returned from sick leave to bank in six points in support.

The game was knotted 8-8 after the first quarter, with Marrs having already scored in every possible way, hitting a trey, a field goal, and a free-throw.

The offense slowed down a bit in the second quarter, with Granite holding a 6-2 advantage, and that would prove to be a killer for the Wolves.

The two teams battled almost evenly across the final 14 minutes of the season, but the Tigers stretched the lead ever so slightly with a 6-5 third frame, before the teams closed with a 4-4 stalemate in the final quarter.

Smith got quality floor time for every one in uniform, with Jackie Contreras, Reese Wilkinson, Allison Nastali, Erica McGrath, Kaitlyn Leavell, Desi Ramirez, Skylar Parker, and Kayla Arnold chipping in with defense and hustle.

 

8th grade JV:

Someone check what Jessenia Camarena had for breakfast, because she was unstoppable.

Pouring in a season-high nine points in just two quarters, the defensive dynamo transformed into an offensive whirlwind, pacing Coupeville to an 11-8 win.

The victory, which comes after the  JV had to sit out back-to-back games, thanks to other schools battling their own spring cold and flu season, lifts the Wolves final record to 3-5.

While she got a bit of help from Claire Mayne, who slipped through the Granite defense for a first-quarter bucket, this was Camarena’s game, from start to finish.

She tossed in two buckets to go with Mayne’s basket, as CMS built a 6-2 lead after one quarter of action.

Not content to stop there, Camarena knocked down another field goal, and a three-ball, to account for all of Coupeville’s scoring in the second, and final, frame.

Setting her up for the offensive explosion were her teammates, who harassed the Granite ball-handlers and hit the boards with intensity.

Karyme Castro, Abigail Ramirez, Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson, Adrian Burrows, Prince, Rogers, McGrath, and Contreras rounded out the active roster.

 

Final scoring totals for the 2019 season:

 

8th varsity:

Carolyn Lhamon – 71
Alita Blouin – 65
Nezi Keiper – 63
Maddie Georges – 62
Gwen Gustafson – 25
Ryanne Knoblich – 16
Hayley Fiedler – 10
Jill Prince – 6
Trinity McGee – 2
Jordyn Rogers – 2

 

7th varsity:

Brionna Blouin – 74
Lauren Marrs – 62
Desi Ramirez – 17
Reese Wilkinson – 8
Erica McGrath – 6
Kayla Arnold – 2
Ava Mitten – 2
Allison Nastali – 2
Skylar Parker – 2

 

8th JV:

Jessenia Camarena – 17
Trinity McGee – 11
Claire Mayne – 10
Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson – 9
Adrian Burrows – 8
Cristina McGrath – 8
Ryanne Knoblich – 6
Karyme Castro – 4
Melanie Navarro – 4
Jill Prince – 3
Jordyn Rogers – 3

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All the rebounds belonged to Tiffany “The Bruiser” Briscoe. All of them. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Give everything you have and you can walk away head held high.

Every coach wants a Tiffany Briscoe.

The former Coupeville High School three-sport athlete, one of the rare Wolves to play a sport in all 12 seasons of their prep career, was a rock.

Day in, day out, every practice, every game, Briscoe was there, playing her heart out, doing all the little things, always looking to improve, always supportive of her teammates, always an unsung star.

She played alongside some of the most dynamic athletes CHS has seen, and it might be easy to overlook her contributions.

But it would also be a huge injustice.

Which is why today we swing open the doors to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcome home one of the ultimate blue-collar warriors.

After this, you’ll find Briscoe at the top of the blog, enshrined under the Legends tab.

It’s a fitting place to find her, because she is the kind of athlete, and kind of person, you hope other Wolves emulate.

Tiffany would be the first to tell you she didn’t have world-class, awe-inspiring natural athletic ability.

And then she would shrug her shoulders, smile, take you down in the paint, bust your fanny all game long, collect all the bruises, hug all her teammates, and walk away, proud she had helped her team.

Briscoe was a key contributor in all her sports, from volleyball to basketball to softball, helping take teams in the latter two sports to state.

There’s stats to support her making the Hall of Fame – she’s #91 all-time in scoring in CHS girls basketball history.

There’s big moments to make a case for her, like when Briscoe crushed an over-the-fence home run off of a nasty fastball from a rival pitcher who had already signed a D1 college scholarship.

That round-tripper was huge on a day when Coupeville KO’d Klahowya, its biggest diamond rival.

After three straight losses to the Eagles, Briscoe’s blow fueled a 7-6 home win which launched a sweet, and somewhat unexpected, six-game winning streak against Klahowya.

But the thing which guarantees she was going to land in the Hall is her heart.

Through big wins and tough losses, through good times and emotional heart-breakers, Briscoe NEVER stopped battling.

Never stopped working.

Never stopped living and dying for her sisters, whether they be of the flesh and blood type (lil’ sis Kyla) or of the “sisters from another mother” variety.

I’ve known Tiffany since she was a very little girl, and, as her high school athletic career played out, I was always impressed by how the important things – her drive, her desire, her compassion, her commitment – never wavered.

She grew as a young woman, finding confidence in sports and life, and she has begun the journey to making a name for herself in the big, wide world after graduating from CHS in 2017.

But, no matter where she goes, and what she accomplishes, I will always see her the way she was when she wore a Wolf uniform.

Leaning in close, eyes locked on her coach, taking in every word, totally absorbed in the game and what her mentors had to say, whether they were words of praise or the sounds of a coach in despair.

Working in the off-season with her teammates, and by herself, committed to getting every last bit of improvement out of her skills.

And then, face beaming, enjoying her time off the court with her friends and family, always willing to mug for the camera, but also aware of when it was time to do that, and when it was time to focus.

There have been a handful of athletes who have come through the gym doors at CHS, or spent time on one or more of the far-flung fields, who have operated like Briscoe did.

They are the ones we remember after the games have faded away, after scores have been forgotten, after they depart and are replaced by new stars.

During her days and nights as a Wolf athlete, there were a lot of young kids camped in the bleachers, or hanging out by the fence.

As they did so, I hope they watched Tiffany, and I hope they appreciated what she was doing.

When they pull on that high school uniform for the first time, if they remember the way she conducted herself, if they try and play like she did, they will go far.

Briscoe’s success was told in the bruises she collected.

Diving for volleyballs, even when she knew she couldn’t save all of them.

Fighting for rebounds, taking and dealing out elbows and daring anyone to try and budge her from her assigned chunk of hardwood.

Regularly absorbing wayward pitches like she had magnets in her arms and legs that attracted only softballs, then bouncing down to take her free base while gritting her teeth and smiling at her coach through the pain.

I said it once, I said it twice, I’ll keep saying it time and time again.

Tiffany Briscoe was a warrior.

When she walked away, at the end of her final softball season, she cried, because she knew it was over. But she smiled too, because she had no regrets.

I hope when she looks back, she remembers her time as a Wolf athlete with pride, and with joy.

Heart, above all else, and none with a bigger heart than Tiffany.

It’s why she’s a Hall of Famer.

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Gwen Gustafson and the CMS 8th grade hoops squad are a pristine 7-0 on the season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One team is chasing experience, the other perfection.

The two Coupeville Middle School girls basketball squads to see action Tuesday at home against Lakewood found different results, but both continue to build towards a bright future.

How the action played out:

 

8th grade varsity rolls towards nirvana:

Two games away from perfection.

Dodging the rampant illness running through Coupeville, at least for the moment, the Wolves crushed Lakewood 38-21 to improve to a flawless 7-0 on the season.

CMS coach Alex Evans and his band of fiery attack dogs have two games remaining, both against teams they have already beaten.

First up is the home finale Thursday, with Sultan on the menu, than a road trip Mar. 19 to Granite Falls.

Facing off with Lakewood, a much-larger school which feeds players to a 2A high school, the Wolves methodically bushwhacked their foes.

A 10-7 lead after one blossomed into a 19-10 margin at the half, then a 30-16 bulge headed into the fourth quarter.

Alita Blouin, the quick-silver killer known as “The Assassin,” led the way, hitting for a game-high 11 points on a variety of shots, including a big three-ball in the third frame.

She was backed up by Nezi Keiper, who rattled the rim for nine points, and the inside-outside combo of Carolyn Lhamon and Maddie Georges, who hit for six apiece.

Hayley Fielder (4) and Gwen Gustafson (2) rounded out the well-balanced attack, while Jill Prince, Jordyn Rogers, and Ryanne Knoblich all chipped in with defense, hustle and all-around scrappiness.

 

7th grade varsity goes down swinging:

Coupeville was missing leading scorer Brionna Blouin and defensive dynamo Allison Nastali, thanks to illness, and the Wolves fell 37-13 to their big-school rivals.

The loss drops the Wolves to 2-6 on the season.

Lakewood put the hammer down hard in the early going, sprinting out to a 14-2 lead after one quarter, then steadily increased the lead as the game went.

Coupeville ended the afternoon on a positive note, however, taking the fourth-quarter battle 4-2, with Erica McGrath and Desi Ramirez singing the nets for a bucket apiece.

Ramirez, who entered the game with nine points on the season, went off for a team-high six, while Lauren Marrs hit for three.

Joining that duo, and McGrath, plucky Ava Mitten, niece of former CHS hoops hotshot Jason McFadyen, drained the first basket of her middle school hardwood career.

Skylar Parker, Reese Wilkinson, Kayla Arnold, Kaitlyn Leavell, and Jackie Contreras also saw floor time for Megan Smith’s ever-improving team.

 

8th grade JV sits out:

Lakewood is getting hit as bad as Coupeville is when it comes to cold and flu season, and the visitors weren’t able to field a JV team this time around.

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Seeded #4, Coupeville’s 5th/6th grade boys SWISH basketball team brought home a second-place trophy Saturday after winning two of three games at the season-ending league tourney. (Photos courtesy Jon Roberts)

The future of Coupeville basketball.

Overachievers, one and all.

Despite entering the season-ending league tournament Saturday as the #4 team, out of seven, the Coupeville 5th/6th grade boys SWISH basketball team beat the odds.

Winning two of three, while coming dangerously close to making it three of three, the Wolves upset the #1 team and brought home a second-place trophy from the Skagit County Parks and Rec.

The opening game was a thriller, as Coupeville rallied from down six points in the fourth quarter to topple #5 Ferndale 27-26.

The Wolves, powered by strong play from Chase Anderson, Aiden O’Neill, and Johnny Porter, who was a mad dog on defense, closed on a 13-6 tear.

That set up a clash with the tourney’s King Kong, #1 Anacortes.

Coupeville struck early, snatched an 8-7 lead after one quarter, then turned on the defensive heat to hold off the tourney favorites.

Once again, things came down to the fourth quarter, and once again the scrappy Wolves stepped up and blasted their foes with the game on the line.

This time it was a 10-6 run, fueled by Anderson and O’Neill, and Coupeville headed to the championship game after a 24-18 dethroning of the big city boys.

With #1 and #2 gone, the tourney came down to the Wolves and #3 Jr. Wildcats, with the title in doubt until the final moments.

Seeking redemption for a narrow loss last week in league play, Coupeville pushed their foes until the end, but ran out of gas at the very end, falling 29-26.

Hurley Bronec opened strongly for Coupeville, tossing in a bucket to go with a 4-4 performance at the free-throw line.

He got plenty of help from his teammates, with Landon Roberts, Anderson, and Jack Porter all chipping in with a bucket of their own.

Coupeville’s defense, led by Johnny Porter, who “was throwing elbows and tearing down rebounds like a mad man” according to coach Jon Roberts, kept the game close.

Down just 17-16 at the half, Coupeville got third-quarter scoring from Camden Glover, Roberts and Anderson, but watched its deficit stretch out slightly to 25-22.

Bronec and Johnny Porter led a strong defensive stand in the final frame, while Anderson notched the final four points of the season.

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