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Coupeville’s Makana Stone went off for 17 points and 11 rebounds Saturday, helping Whitman earn a win and a home playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A sizable collection of Coupeville folks showed up in Tacoma to root for their serene superstar. (Kristi Etzell photo)

Stone netted 7-8 free throw attempts in the win. (Etzell photo)

Stone reunites with former CHS classmates (l to r) Nick Etzell, McKenzie Meyer, Danny Conlisk, and Marisa Etzell. (Eileen Stone photo)

Guess who gets to host a home playoff game after all?

The last day of the regular season broke perfectly for the Whitman College women’s basketball team and its Coupeville star, the ever-rampaging Makana Stone.

With the former Wolf ace going off for 17 points and 11 rebounds in front of an enthusiastic group of hometown fans and friends, the Blues crunched host Pacific Lutheran 73-62 in Tacoma.

Meanwhile, across town, Puget Sound was stunned 61-56 by Whitworth.

That means Whitman, which finishes 13-3 in Northwest Conference play and is 19-6 overall, claims second-place in the nine-team league and will host UPS (12-4, 19-5) Feb. 21 in the first round of the NWC tourney.

Conference champ George Fox (15-1, 22-3) hosts #4 Linfield (8-8, 12-13) the same day, with the winners meeting Feb. 23 in the title game.

The tourney champs earn an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III national championships.

Wrapping up a two-game trip to the wilds of Tacoma, Whitman bounced back strongly Saturday after falling by five points Friday at UPS.

The Blues opened the game with a nice splat, thanks to Taylor Chambers connecting on a long three-ball.

After a couple of early ties, Stone went to work, hitting back-to-back buckets to break open a 9-9 stalemate and give Whitman a lead it would never relinquish.

Up 19-16 after one, the Blues stretched the lead to 37-28 by the halftime break.

PLU, which entered the day in a three-way tie for the league’s fourth, and final, playoff berth, cut the lead all the way back to a single point midway through the second half, but Stone wasn’t having it.

She pumped in seven points in the third quarter, then added another four in the fourth.

Stone rose to the occasion down the stretch, getting key points in the final three minutes, when Whitman back-handed its upstart hosts back into reality.

Out-leaping two defenders, Stone snagged an offensive rebound and promptly crashed hard to the hoop, earning two well-deserved free throw attempts with 2:42 left in the game.

Netting both (she hit 7-8 from the charity stripe on the night), the Whitman junior staked her squad to a 62-55 lead.

A minute later she was right back at it, gunning down the floor and pulling in an outlet pass for a running layup to push the margin out to double digits.

With Whitman senior Maegan Martin following up with back-to-back breakaway layups of her own, the Blues shoved the lead out to 14 before PLU ended its season with a buzzer-beating three-ball.

The Blues big three were the key to the game, as usual.

Stone added a crucial steal to go with her 17 and 11 double-double, while Mady Burdett singed the nets for 16 points, and Martin added 14 points and 12 boards of her own.

Kaelan Shamseldin, who nailed a late three-ball that punched a hole through the hearts of PLU fans, had 11 points as Whitman put four players into double-digits scoring.

Emma Janousek paced PLU with a team-high 15.

Heading into the playoffs, Stone has set personal-bests in virtually every statistical category, and now has 356 points, 203 rebounds, 40 assists, 26 steals and 18 blocks on the season.

She’s shooting 149-290 (51.4%) from the floor and 57-73 (78.1%) from the line.

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Kailey Kellner tossed in eight points Saturday during the final game of her sophomore basketball season at D’Youville College. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Kailey Kellner reached the end of the season doing what she does best – putting the ball in the bucket.

The Coupeville grad, now a sophomore at D’Youville College in New York, rattled the rim for eight points Saturday as the Spartans celebrated Senior Night with an 82-67 win over visiting Franciscan University.

The victory lifts D’Youville’s final record to 7-11 in Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference action, 10-15 overall.

The top six teams in the league advance to the playoffs, but the Spartans missed out on a postseason berth by a single win.

D’Youville finished strongly, winning two of its final three games, but a 2-7 stretch right before that made it hard to climb any higher in the 10-team conference.

From the outside, one could argue Kellner should have gotten more playing time, since the turnaround started when the former Wolf was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time this season.

Saturday, the Spartans honored seniors Monica June, Darian Evans, and Jordan Smith, then put the game away in the second quarter.

After heading into the first break knotted up at 12-12, D’Youville went on a 21-12 run across the next 10 minutes.

Kellner tossed in four of her eight points during the surge, and from there it was easy street for the Spartans.

Coasting home for the win with 26-24 and 23-20 advantages across the final two quarters, D’Youville sent its seniors, and the fans, back out into the 29-degree Buffalo weather with smiles on their faces.

Filling up the stat sheet, Kellner snatched four rebounds and dealt out an assist to go along with her eight points.

For the season, if you believe the D’Youville stat page (and that’s questionable, as Kellner was dinged twice this season by score-keepers who gave credit for her baskets to others), Coupeville’s progeny finished with 76 points, 44 rebounds, 17 assists and four steals.

Her best stat was her free-throw shooting, where she knocked down 14 of 19 shots. That pencils out to 73.7%, and was among the best totals posted by a Spartan in 2018-2019.

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Makana Stone (23) and her Whitman teammates will need everything to break right Saturday for them to host a playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Six days from now, the Whitman College women’s basketball team will be in the playoffs.

But, barring a last-second reversal of fortune Saturday, the Blues and former Coupeville star Makana Stone will start the postseason on the road.

Despite a strong second-half rally Friday, Whitman couldn’t quite make up for a poor first half, falling 60-55 to the University of Puget Sound.

The road loss, coming in the next-to-last regular season game, drops the Blues, 12-3 in Northwest Conference play, 18-6 overall, into a tie for second-place with UPS (12-3).

But, since the Loggers swept the season series, also winning 75-67 in Walla Walla Jan. 19, they hold the tiebreaker.

Unless Whitman beats Pacific Lutheran (7-8) Saturday and UPS falls to Whitworth (7-8), the Blues will be the #3 seed to the four-team NWC tourney.

League champ George Fox (15-1) hosts whichever 7-8 team — PLU, Whitworth or Linfield — emerges Saturday to claim the #4 seed, while #2 hosts #3.

The first round of the single-elimination tourney goes down Feb. 21, with the title game Feb. 23.

The tourney champ gets an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III national championships, while other NWC teams will sweat out the announcement of at-large teams.

Friday’s loss came down largely to one really bad five-minute-plus stretch in the second quarter.

Whitman led through much of the first quarter, and, even after finally losing the advantage, was still hanging tough down 21-16 with 6:20 to play in the first half.

Unfortunately for the Blues, their shooting touch promptly went into deep freeze, and Puget Sound took advantage.

Using a 14-0 tear over the next five minutes and 32 seconds, the Loggers turned a close game into a potential blowout.

Kaelan Shamseldin finally snapped the scoring drought, pulling off a three-point play the hard way, but her bucket and free throw could only trim the halftime deficit to 35-19.

The second half was a different story, as Whitman shaved away at the lead with 17-9 and 19-16 runs across the final two periods.

Stone drained a jumper to pull the Blues within four points late in the third quarter, then slipped a free throw through the net to slice the margin to 49-46 with a hair under four minutes to play in the game.

Puget Sound hung tough down the stretch, though.

Even with the league’s arguably-best player, Jamie Lange, held to just seven points, the Loggers found just enough offense to persevere.

Elizabeth Prewitt rattled the rim for a game-high 20, with seven of those points coming down the stretch, to pace UPS.

For Whitman, Mady Burdett scorched the nets for 18, and the lone Blues senior, Maegan Martin, notched a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Stone, who had to battle through foul trouble, finished with seven points, six rebounds, and an assist, while being restricted to just 13 minutes of floor time.

The former Wolf ace is sitting with 339 points, 192 rebounds, 40 assists, 25 steals, and 18 blocks for her junior campaign.

She’s shooting 144-276 from the field, and 50-65 from the line.

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Ryanne Knoblich, seen with big bro Gavin, tossed in four points Thursday as Coupeville battled King’s. (Photo by Mariah Knoblich)

So, there’s two ways to look at what went down Thursday in the Coupeville Middle School gym.

In one scenario, we spend a lot of time chastising King’s for being, well, King’s.

A school which claimed it couldn’t field an 8th grade team this season, likely because a number of its players chose AAU or travel ball over school hoops, deliberately dodged Coupeville’s most-seasoned team.

So, while the Wolf 8th grade varsity sat idle, King’s sent one squad against the Wolf 7th graders, and then sent “the rest of its players” out to smack around Coupeville’s JV.

The Knights coach claimed her second team had few players with previous playing experience.

At which point, the off-screen narrator can solemnly be heard to intone … “She lied.”

While there might not have been any AAU-seasoned supernovas present, a surprising number of King’s “second squad” (we’ll say 97.9%) proved able to dribble with both hands, set screens, thread passes between defenders, and demonstrate polished shooting techniques.

All things most of Coupeville’s JV team, which features only one player with SWISH experience, is still trying to master.

So, rah-rah, King’s, take your 46-4 win in which you were still flinging up three-balls and aggressively going for steals in the final minute, and put it in your trophy case.

And next time, step up and play the team you should have been playing, the Wolf varsity squad that was eyeballing you from the stands.

Of course that won’t happen this season, as King’s refusal to play a real 8th grade schedule means the league’s planning went out the door in the week leading up to the season.

With a new master schedule in place, the Wolves and Knights only face once now, and not twice, and frankly, everyone is the better for it.

Coupeville’s 8th grade varsity, denied the chance to challenge private school power King’s, will instead play two games against Sultan, Granite Falls, and Lakewood, and three against South Whidbey.

All public schools willing to play straight-up and not hide behind fibs and roster shuffling.

Give credit to the Wolves JV, which played hard, to a woman, all the way, even while being wildly over-matched.

Ryanne Knoblich, a varsity/JV hybrid who was the only CMS player on the floor with non-school playing experience, scored all four of Coupeville’s points, and all on hard-earned free throws.

Adrian Burrows, Jessenia Camarena, Claire Mayne, Cristina McGrath, Melanie Navarro, Abigail Ramirez, Jessica Ross-McMahon, and Jordyn Rogers played with guts, and should be hailed for their effort.

Camarena and Rogers, in particular, spent much of their time diving and fighting for loose balls, while Burrows yanked down more than her share of rebounds.

The opening game of the day was much closer, as Coupeville came within a final shot of forcing overtime in a 21-19 loss.

The Wolves got contributions from everyone on the floor, but special attention has to be paid to the one-woman wrecking crew that goes by the name Brionna Blouin.

A night after scoring 14 in a season-opening win against Langley, Blouin splashed home all of Coupeville’s points, hitting a trio of three-balls, including a miracle buzzer-beater, before putting on a fourth-quarter show for the ages.

Staying on the court for the entire 28 minutes, while also bringing the ball up on virtually every play with her point guard on vacation, she even earned a nod of approval from take-no-guff lead ref Jim Shulock.

Behind their on-fire gunner, the Wolves twice came back from double-digit deficits.

After falling behind 10-0 to start the game, Blouin netted back-to-back three-balls to end the first quarter and send a surge through the CMS fans.

The first trey was your standard-issue pull-up shot fired on the move, and by standard, I mean standard for an NBA guard, maybe, but not for the other 99% of 7th graders out there.

Blouin, for a young player, already demonstrates an often uncanny ability to create a few inches between herself and her defender in a split second, then loft a high, arching shot.

Not that she needed to create space on the second shot, as King’s defenders were backpedaling as Coupeville raced the clock in a bid to get up court.

One eye monitoring the seconds tick away, the other looking to see if the CHS varsity players working the scorekeeper’s table were watching, Blouin got spectacular.

Pulling off not one, but two pump fakes, she slid under a King’s player, then calmly flicked the ball skyward.

At which point time stopped in the known universe, allowing all gathered to trace the flight of the ball as it rode the rainbow, skipped off the top of the glass, then settled through the net with a happy little sigh.

After that King’s started shadowing Blouin with more than one defender, which paid off with a 9-2 surge over the next two quarters.

Coupeville’s defense, led by strong work on the boards from Reese Wilkinson and Kayla Arnold, and hustle for loose balls by Allison Nastali and Skylar Parker, kept the Knights from getting red-hot, but a 19-8 deficit looked imposing heading into the fourth quarter.

Well, until Blouin went to work.

She pulled off a stop-n-pop jumper, slashed in for a layup, netted a sideline jumper, threw down a turnaround jumper in the paint, then nailed her final three-ball from the top of the arc.

King’s only answer to Blouin’s 11-point eruption was one single, solitary put-back off of an offensive rebound, but it stung for two reasons.

One, it came not on the first rebound, but on what felt like the 437th (reality says it was rebound #5 off the same offensive possession).

Secondly, it gave the Knights the two-point advantage they would need to hang on to the win.

With King’s relentlessly pressuring Blouin, Coupeville went to Parker for a game-tying shot, and she came very close to making it a reality.

Unfortunately, the basket turned unforgiving, letting the ball skid around the rim, before finally spitting it back out.

When King’s players went down the “good game, good game” line at the end of this one, they were saying the words with a fair amount of relief in their voices.

While Blouin captured a lot of attention, and rightfully so, her teammates worked extremely hard to help her get to where she was going.

Erica McGrath pulled down several rebounds and came close to knocking down her own three-ball, while Ava Mitten, Kaitlyn Leavell, and Desi Ramirez buzzed around, creating havoc on defense.

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Coupeville’s Nezi Keiper (with ball) battles down low with Langley’s Morgan Batchelor, while getting mugged from behind. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Carolyn Lhamon denies a Langley shot.

Gwen Gustafson remains calm in the eye of the storm, waiting for the play to develop.

Wolf fans come to a consensus. “The snow is melting! The snow is melting!!”

If you can’t see Maddie Georges’ eyes, you have no way of knowing which way she’s about to pass.

Ema Smith lays down the law. “The clock starts when I say it starts, Skippy.”

Helene Lhamon implores the Wolves to make a defensive stop. Spoiler alert: they did.

Ryanne Knoblich fires a pass into the key during Coupeville’s come-from-behind win.

Finally a break in the snow and ice.

That gave the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball teams a chance to play Wednesday, while also allowing paparazzi John Fisken to check and see if his cameras had unfrozen.

They had, and the pics above, which capture action from the 8th grade varsity game, are courtesy him.

To see everything Fisken shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2018-2019-boys-and-girls/MSGBB-2019-02-13-vs-South-Whidbey/

And, when you go, remember any purchases help fund scholarships for CHS senior student/athletes.

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