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Makana Stone brings the ball up court Saturday in England. (Photo property Loughborough University)

It’s an effective formula.

Makana Stone plus a basketball usually equals a win.

When the Coupeville High School grad is in the lineup for Loughborough University this season, the Riders are 7-1.

Without her, 0-2.

So, it was a good thing Stone was back in uniform Saturday, and back to layin’ down a beatin’ on her opponents.

Going off for 15 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, and two assists, the former Wolf helped spark Loughborough to a wire-to-wire win over host CoLA Southwark.

The 81-55 victory keeps the Riders (7-3) in second-place in England’s National Basketball League, within shouting distance of frontrunner Ipswich (10-1), whose only loss came on a last-second Stone bucket earlier this season.

Saturday, Loughborough jumped on CoLA Southwark early, exploding to a 27-12 lead after one quarter of play.

From there, the Riders got methodical, ringing up 18-11, 18-17, and 18-15 advantages across the remaining three quarters of play.

Loughborough spread out its attack, with Molly James pumping in a game-high 18 points to lead four Riders into double-digits scoring.

Stone added her 15, while Robyn Ainge banked in 13, and Katie Januszewska rounded out the attack with 12 points and 11 boards.

Coupeville’s progeny has dropped a double-double in every game she’s played overseas, and now sits with 136 points, 121 rebounds, 17 assists, and 25 steals on the season.

Stone and Co. return to action next Saturday, March 6, when they face off with Worcester.

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Coupeville gunner Mollie Bailey lofts a shot near the end of the 2019-2020 basketball season. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolves (left to right) Hannah Davidson, Tia Wurzrainer, Avalon Renninger, and Scout Smith join coach Scott Fox on Senior Night.

You never know.

A year ago today, the Coupeville High School girls basketball team was eliminated from the playoffs, KO’d by a barrage of three-balls off of the fingertips of hot-shooting Meridian players.

As the players and fans departed the CHS gym, until just Wolf coach Scott Fox was left standing in the half-darkened building, it seemed to be a time of transition.

February 11, 2020, said the calendar.

Winter sports were done, with the Coupeville boys hoops team having been similarly knocked out of the postseason a few days before.

It was the end of the road for Wolf seniors Scout Smith, Hannah Davidson, Tia Wurzrainer, and Avalon Renninger — a group which had played together since middle school.

“We fought really hard,” Fox said in the half-light. “Our seniors played their hearts out. They were our backbone and our leaders. I couldn’t be more proud of those girls.”

But, even as basketball faded from sight, the promise of spring sports helped pick up the mood.

Wurzrainer, who had celebrated her birthday that night, earning a huge roar from the crowd with a late-game bucket, was set to join Renninger for a final season of tennis.

Smith would return to the diamond, where CHS was primed to make a run at a second-straight trip to state.

There was even a chance Davidson, who had played softball in little league, might be talked into joining her for one last fling.

The Wolves needed a first-baseman, and she fit the bill — if Scooter could pull off the sweet-talk.

One season ends, another lurks on the horizon. It has been ever so.

As I left the gym, walking across the parking lot on a crisp evening, I coughed a couple of times.

Something I had done for much of the winter, as flu and cold season mixed with sitting crammed into gyms with other Wolf fans — a perfect breeding ground for my annual rite of “gym cough.”

There had been a few news articles about a new virus building in a place called Wuhan, but on Feb. 11, 2020, that was less than an afterthought.

Sports roll on, as they always have, and always will, and going outside to freeze during spring sports would ease the tickle in the back of my throat.

It was ever so … and then it wasn’t.

Very few people alive in the world the night of Feb. 11, 2020 were also alive when the Spanish Flu did its dirty work, so COVID-19 is a new experience for most of us.

The thought which was never present — that a girls basketball playoff loss to Meridian would be the final live high school sports event in Coupeville for a year — came at us fast.

The virus erupted.

Schools closed.

Spring sports vanished without being played.

There were a handful of middle school basketball games played after Feb. 11, before the CMS hoops season was also shut down, but high school sports ended that night.

And now, here we are on Feb. 11, 2021, and they haven’t returned. At least in Coupeville.

There have been some practices, as the COVID rules have shifted over the months, but no seasons, no games, no return to play.

Plans are in place for CHS and its partners in the Northwest 2B/1B League to restart Feb. 22 — just a week and a half from now — with spring sports first up.

Whether that happens depends on a number of factors, including whether Island County continues to get shafted by being lumped together with Whatcom County under Governor Jay Inslee’s new regional reopening system.

In a best-case scenario, a Coupeville High School sports team will compete against a rival at some point this month, whether it’s Wolf baseball, softball, girls tennis, or track and field which draws the first game on a schedule which hasn’t been made public yet.

Worst-case scenario, things drag on, and we lose the entire 2020-2021 school athletic year, tacked on to the loss of spring 2020 sports.

I have no clue, and neither do you.

Unless you’re a NWL Athletic Director like Coupeville’s Willie Smith, to pretend otherwise is pointless.

But at least we know both options, best-case and worst-case, are possibilities, as well as some middle compromise.

Which makes it somewhat easier to deal with. Sort of.

The night of Feb. 11, 2020, we left the gym, headed to our vehicles, wrapped in blissful ignorance.

It was just another game. The end of one season, and the start of another.

Until it wasn’t.

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Hot-shooting Bill Jarrell (left) and Coach Bob Barker, key members of the 1975 state team, reunite in 2018. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Back to the big dance!

Thanks to Renae (Keefe) Mulholland, we’ve been working our way through radio broadcasts of some of the biggest games in Coupeville High School boys basketball history.

With her brother Randy singing the nets in the mid-1970s, their dad Tom used his “new realistic Radio Shack cassette deck” to record the work of KBRC play-by-play men.

Today’s broadcast is the second of two games the Wolves played at the 1975 state tournament, with Kiona-Benton the foe.

If you missed it, Coupeville’s first state tourney clash from that year can be found at:

State hoops glory comes alive again | Coupeville Sports

And now, on to game #2.

 

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Dorothy Keefe keeps an eye on those rascals, Randy Keefe (middle) and Bill Jarrell. (Renae Mulholland photo)

We’re off to Spokane.

Renae (Keefe) Mulholland has been digitizing cassettes from her father’s collection of radio broadcasts, and this time out we’re at the big dance.

The Coupeville High School boys basketball team clashes with Lind in the first of two games it played at the 1975 state tourney, and we have the radio call to prove it.

The game you can listen to below was part of Coupeville’s second of five trips (so far) to the state tourney.

The first came during the go-go 1969-1970 campaign, and the first Wolf win on the sport’s biggest stage would come almost exactly a year after this Lind game.

On March 4, 1976, CHS, featuring some of the same players who made the trip to state in 1975, such as Bill Jarrell, Foster Faris, and Marc Bissett, bounced Columbia (Burbank) 80-63.

That, along with a 62-51 win over Montesano March 1, 1979, remain the only tourney wins for a Coupeville boys basketball program which sits at 2-10 all-time at state.

But, the future is an unknown. Who knows how many state wins may be lurking right around the corner?

As you wait for that, and as the current players work for that, take a moment to bask in past glory.

 

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Makana Stone returned to play Saturday, recording another double-double to lead her British hoops team to its fifth-straight win. (Photo property Loughborough University)

It was a nice way to ease back into things.

Playing for the first time in a month-and-a-half, Coupeville grad Makana Stone and the Loughborough University women’s basketball team romped to a big win Saturday in England.

With the former Wolf throwing down her seventh double-double in as many games, tallying 18 points and snatching 15 rebounds, the Riders drilled winless BA London 77-62.

The victory lifts Loughborough to 6-2 on the season and pulls it just a half-game back of National Basketball League leader Ipswich (6-1), a team Stone and Co. have already beaten this season.

After closing out 2020 with back-to-back one-point victories, the Riders ended up sitting out longer than expected.

The standard Christmas break morphed into a COVID-related shutdown, as Britain’s Division One teams were sidelined after Prime Minister Boris Johnson instituted a nation-wide halt of most activity in response to new variations in the virus.

Now that basketball is returning to play, the league schedule has been tweaked, and at least one school, Bristol Academy, has chosen to end its season.

Loughborough will have another break, not playing again until Sunday, February 14, when it’s scheduled to match-up with the CoLA Southwark Pride.

Current plans call for the relaunched season to run through March 28, when the standings will be frozen.

After that, schools will be broken into two pools, with the top six in one group and teams #7-#11 in another.

Eight teams make the NBL playoffs, set to tip-off May 15-16, with the championship game the weekend of May 29-30.

Saturday, all the focus was just on getting back into the flow of actually playing games, something Stone and her Riders teammates had been awaiting.

With their opponent not having seen action since mid-November, and coming into play having lost all four of its games, opportunity abounded.

Consider the moment seized. Though maybe not as easily as expected.

Loughborough claimed its first lead at 3-1 on a Molly James three-ball, and never trailed again, but didn’t really pull away from BA London until midway through the fourth quarter.

Stone poured in 10 of her team-high 18 points in the opening frame, lifting the Riders to a 25-20 lead at the first break, but the Lions stayed competitive most of the day.

The two teams were tied 36-36 just before the half, and Loughborough’s lead sat at just 63-58 with a hair over three-and-a-half minutes to play in the game.

At which point the Riders put the ball in Stone’s hands, cheering as their American assassin banked in three buckets to spur a game-busting 9-2 run.

Coupeville’s progeny narrowly missed out on a triple-double, making off with nine steals to go with her 18 points and 15 boards.

She also dealt out two assists while playing nearly 34 minutes.

Stone was one of five Riders to net double-digit scoring totals Saturday, with Sasha Lecuyer (13), James (12), Robyn Ainge (11), and Kacey Cox (10) joining her.

On the season, Stone has racked up 121 points, 110 rebounds, 15 assists, and 22 steals.

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