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   Scout Smith sizzled at the plate, on defense and in the pitcher’s circle Monday as CHS softball swept a doubleheader from Blaine. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This wasn’t one player having a good day. Or two, or even three.

This was a team, from top to bottom, firing on all cylinders and beating the living snot out of their foes in one fiery, day-long assault on the scoreboard.

By the time the red-hot Coupeville High School softball sluggers were done Monday, they had rocked Blaine pitching for 29 hits, including four doubles, two triples and a home run to straight-away center field.

So it should come as little surprise that the Wolves returned from the Canadian border bearing not one, but two wins, having swept the Borderites 12-1 and 20-6.

The non-conference victories, coming against a large 2A school, stretches Coupeville’s win streak to three games and lifts its record to 5-1.

After a couple of days to enjoy spring break, the Wolves play three home games in two days, hosting Meridian Friday and Forks Saturday. The second of those match-ups will be another doubleheader.

If CHS comes out swinging like it did against Blaine, the games will be over quickly, though it may not be painless for their opponents.

Coupeville scored in 12 of 13 innings at Blaine, failing to notch at least one run in just the top of the third in game #2.

Even then, they came within an inch of doing so, their run-scoring dream only denied when Blaine’s pitcher made a fairly spectacular snag on a scorching liner off the bat of Sarah Wright.

Mostly a wild defensive move, a bid to save her rib cage from being tattooed by the incoming laser, it earned well-deserved cheers from both teams.

Pretty much every other applause-worthy moment on the afternoon came courtesy of a Coupeville player, as the Wolves mashed from the top of the lineup to the bottom.

Toss in a nearly error-free defense, including a couple of great throws on the move from freshman third-baseman Chelsea Prescott and a “I said, sit down!” throw from Wright to nail a would-be base stealer, and CHS hurlers Katrina McGranahan and Scout Smith just had to be consistent, not inspired.

Not that the duo listened, as they took turns keeping the Blaine hitters off balance and both had stretches where they retired Borderites at a steady clip.

So, a very satisfying, if long, day for CHS coach Kevin McGranahan.

“We came off the bus ready to go; the whole offense just chipped away and kept fighting,” he said. “Everybody got a lot of solid playing time and we gained a lot of experience for our younger players against a big 2A school.

“This is how we build our program and these girls are all buying into the program and giving everything they have every game,” McGranahan added. “Game to game there are stars of the game, but really, this is a TEAM, and they all play for each other. Outstanding day for the Wolves!!”

Game #1:

Using speed and base-running guile to their advantage, the Wolves steadily built a lead, scoring in every inning and pushing the game into 10-run rule territory after the sixth inning.

Early RBI’s from Katrina McGranahan and Nicole Laxton staked CHS to a 2-0 lead, then Wright and Veronica Crownover bashed back-to-back run-producing base-knocks in the third to help their team begin to pull away.

Coupeville really surged in the fourth, when Laxton and Mackenzie Davis came around to score on a two-run single by Lauren Rose.

Davis beat the throw to home by a millisecond, dipping to get below the tag at just the right moment.

Hope Lodell cranked a wicked liner to center field to spur a rally in the fifth, and the Wolves came within an out of pulling off the shutout before Blaine scored its solitary run.

The bottom of the sixth also included some major Katrina McGranahan mojo, as she recorded her seventh and eighth strikeouts, then accidentally exploded an inside pitch off a Borderite batter’s hip.

Ball hit bone with the kind of sound normally reserved for runaway semi trucks hitting grocery carts full of glass bottles, causing even the toughest softball lifers to flinch and mutter under their breath, “Dang! She’s probably dead!!”

She wasn’t, thankfully, and even stayed in the game, after much hobbling around while wailing “Take me now, sweet Jesus!”

Katrina McGranahan, among the classiest of all classy athletes, profusely apologized to her inadvertent bulls-eye, even while knowing, deep in the back of her brain, that not a single Blaine hitter would even remotely crowd the plate the rest of the season.

Game #2:

Showing some chippiness, the Borderites returned from the between-games snack break ready to do some damage, and actually carried a 5-3 lead into the fifth inning.

Coupeville mixed up its lineup a bit, with freshmen Coral Caveness and Mollie Bailey getting major playing time and Smith coming on to replace McGranahan in the pitcher’s circle in the third.

After scraping out a run in both the first and second, thanks largely to hits from Smith and Prescott, CHS briefly stalled out.

Falling behind 5-2, the Wolves chipped back with a run in the fourth, courtesy an RBI single into the gap from Smith, then turned the volume to 11 in the fifth.

Seven of the first eight CHS hitters reached base in the inning, with Prescott lashing a two-run triple to tie the game, before Crownover poked an RBI single over the bag at first to put the Wolves back ahead for good.

RBI’s from Laxton and Smith, packaged around Emma Mathusek being drilled (in the toe, not the hip, and she appreciates it) stretched the lead to 9-5, and then it was time to get medieval.

With two on and two away, Wright hefted her bat like Thor wielding his hammer and sauntered to the plate.

At that exact moment, a particularly cold gust of wind surprise-attacked from behind the bleachers, ripping through the souls (and across the exposed legs) of any fans dumb enough to be wearing shorts.

The goosebumps hadn’t even settled, though, when Coupeville’s catcher turned on a pitch and tore the stitching off the ball.

By the time the hapless orb dropped out of sight, landing on the other side of the center field fence, Wright was halfway to second, and she only slowed down when her teammates charged out of the dugout, ready to gang-tackle her as the ump twirled his hand to signal a three-run dagger of a long-ball.

Her home run marked the end of Wright’s day, as Bailey, who had already taken over her catching duties several innings earlier, also took her spot in the hitting order after that.

Bailey walked during a seven-run seventh, a final Wolf explosion which included RBI singles from Mathusek and Crownover and a gut-check slide into home from Laxton.

Arriving at the same moment as an incoming ball, the Wolf junior collided with the Blaine catcher and took the brunt of the blow.

While it obviously hurt, she was safe, however, and limped back to the bench to be healed by her teammate’s extended cheers.

By the time the stats were totaled up, Crownover came out as the Hit Queen, rattling off five base-knocks on the day, including a double.

Smith and Prescott had four hits apiece, with Lodell, Wright and Caveness each collecting three.

Mathusek (2), Laxton (2), Rose (1), Davis (1) and Katrina McGranahan (1) rounded out the attack.

Seven of those 29 hits were of the extra-base variety, with Wright (2B, HR), Lodell (2B, 3B), Prescott (3B), Crownover (2B) and Katrina McGranahan (2B) all making the big turn at first and heading off to extended glory.

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Mollie Bailey, breakin’ ankles and takin’ names. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mollie Bailey is deceptive.

While older sisters McKayla and McKenzie were more openly vocal during their playing days at Coupeville High School, the youngest member of the family is more of a laid-back cool cat.

The Wolf freshman bops along, often looking like she’s in her own little world, a place where whatever song is playing in her head is something she, and she alone, can hear and appreciate.

And then, just when you think she’s drifting, BAM, Bailey slices you off at the kneecaps and leaves you to bleed out on the field or court.

Cause deep down, under the placid exterior, frequent one-liners and love of being an accomplished photo bomber, is a stone-cold killer who is already carving out a name for herself as a prairie legend.

The latest chapter in the best seller that is Mollie played out Wednesday night, as she outscored the visiting Blaine JV girls basketball squad by herself.

Pouring in 14 points, with eight coming in a game-busting run, she sparked the Wolves to a 25-11 win, evening Coupeville’s record at 1-1 on the season.

Playing against a 2A school with a much-deeper bench, CHS made do with just 6.5 players.

Missing four girls, and with swing player Avalon Renninger limited to just two quarters, Coupeville relied heavily on its starters, and they responded.

Bailey was in a groove from the word go, threading a beautiful pass to a sprinting Tia Wurzrainer for the game’s first bucket.

That was actually the only basket the Wolves scored in a defensive-minded first quarter, yet they still led 5-4 at the break.

With Nicole Lester, Kylie Chernikoff and Chelsea Prescott dominating on defense — Lester rejected one Borderite shot, then snatched the ball away and led the break herself — Blaine struggled mightily to get the ball in the hoop.

The visitors did briefly find a rhythm, scoring the final two buckets of the second quarter and the first one of the third to pull within 11-10, the closest they had been all game.

At which point Bailey sighed, thunked the ball a little harder on the floor as she dribbled up-court, then promptly went and ripped out her defender’s still-beating heart and showed it to her.

Metaphorically…

A free throw, a three-point play the hard way (bucket and free throw), then back-to-back dead-eye jumpers staggered Blaine and the rout was on.

And Bailey had plenty of help as she KO’d the Borderites.

The ever-friendly Lester transformed superbly into an on-court wild woman, swinging sharp elbows as she hauled in rebound after rebound.

Meanwhile, Chernikoff turned a broken play into a buzzer-beating bank shot after snaring a loose ball, Prescott cleaned the glass and turned it into a second-chance bucket and Renninger drilled a jumper from the top of the key.

Toss in a nice little bit of floor time for foreign exchange student Julia Garcia Onoro, and Coupeville JV coach Amy King walked off with yet another win.

It took Bailey a few extra minutes to join her coach in the locker room, though. She had to remove all the bodies she carved up first.

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   Hunter Smith kicked off his senior season Wednesday by scorching Blaine’s defense for 24 points. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Mason Grove also had 24 in the JV game, but all of his points came off of three-point bombs.

It was a long trip, but they scorched some nets while they were there.

Opening a new season Wednesday, with new coaches at the helm, the Coupeville High School boys basketball teams traveled way up to the border to face perennial 2A powerhouse Blaine.

And while both Wolf squads fell, they also both had the hottest shooter on the court, as senior Hunter Smith and sophomore Mason Grove dropped 24 points apiece.

Smith’s came in a variety of ways, as the CHS varsity staged a solid fourth-quarter rally before falling 50-41.

For Grove, it was three-balls all day long, as he rained down eight treys to provide most of the Wolf offense as the JV lost 71-34.

Varsity:

Former Wolf star Brad Sherman made his debut as the new head coach, and his team’s current star was in mid-season form.

Smith tallied five points in the first quarter, then tacked on four, six and nine across the next three periods, as he bedeviled the Borderite defense.

The 24 points raises Smith’s career total to 489.

With that, he passes Sean Dillon and Pat O’Grady on the career scoring list, moving closer to becoming only the 42nd male player in the program’s 101-year history to top 500 points.

One of those guys he’s chasing is Sherman, who graduated in 2003 with 874 points to his credit.

While he didn’t get a win in his first game, Coupeville’s new coach came away pleased with much of what he saw as the Wolves used a 16-7 fourth-quarter run to cut an 18-point deficit in half.

“Boys fought hard. Blaine had a big height advantage, which hurt us a little, but we adjusted well,” Sherman said. “Few guys in foul trouble early on our end, which always presents some challenges.

“With that said – I thought our kids played a heck of a defensive game as a unit,” he added. “Really aggressive and able to get our hands in a lot of passing lanes.”

Smith paced the Wolves with 10 rebounds, while Ethan Spark added five.

Sherman also praised Cameron Toomey-Stout, who “was a beast on defense,” and Joey Lippo, who “had a heck of a defensive game.”

Coupeville had its shot, or shots, at taking down the Borderites, but the rim was unforgiving at times.

“On offense, I thought we moved the ball well and did a pretty good job waiting for good shots,” Sherman said. “Really, what it came down to tonight was a ton of open looks that we didn’t connect on.

“On a lot of nights, a few more of those fall and we are right there at the end.”

Spark tossed in eight points to back Smith, while Lippo (6), Hunter Downes (2) and Toomey-Stout (1) rounded out the offensive attack.

“Obviously you always want that W, but I’m proud of how the boys played and fought tonight against a good basketball team, on the road,” Sherman said. “Now, we learn a few things from it, and get back to our goal of just improving every day.”

JV:

The game was close for a quarter, as Koa Davison swished a three-ball at the buzzer to knot things at 16-16 at the end of the first quarter.

Grove netted three of his long shots in the first, then tacked on two more in the second and three in the third, but Blaine proved to be too much in the end.

“We battled hard but could not keep up with Blaine’s numbers,” said CHS coach Chris Smith. “Ultimately foul trouble and running out of steam as Blaine ran line changes at us allowed them to slowly but consistently creep away.”

Davison and Ulrik Wells both dropped in four points apiece to back Grove, while Jake Pease added a bucket and was “a monster on the boards!”

“I love that we never quit battling and we walked off the floor with our heads held high,” Smith said.

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   Mikayla Elfrank dropped in nine of her game-high 20 points Wednesday in the fourth quarter. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“We didn’t win the score, but we won the game.”

With his team drawing energy from a vocal, enthusiastic home crowd Wednesday, David King’s Coupeville High School girls basketball squad almost pulled off a stunner.

Rallying from 15 points down, the Wolves, playing with a very limited bench, gave themselves a chance to tie the game in the final moments against 2A Blaine, a big school boasting two big six-footers.

And while the Borderites hit their free throws in the waning seconds to slip away with a 44-39 non-conference win, King walked away a happy coach.

His undermanned squad — CHS suited six players, plus picked up swing player Avalon Renninger for two quarters — never gave up or gave in.

“I was very proud of the team effort and how well they played together,” King said. “Tonight is why I coach.”

The loss, coming on the heels of one to 2A Bellingham, drops Coupeville to 0-2 headed into back-to-back games this weekend.

The Wolves host Mount Vernon Christian Friday, then travel to Langley Saturday morning to play Flinders Christian, a traveling team from Australia.

After opening the season with two straight tilts against bigger schools, the next two games will be a welcome change of pace.

Coupeville struggled in the early going against Blaine, unable to stop its bigs from slashing to the hoop.

The Borderites opened a 13-5 lead after one quarter, before eventually stretching the lead out to 14 late in the second quarter.

Up to that point, the Wolves hadn’t been able to get much going on offense, other than a three-point play the hard way from Mikayla Elfrank.

That changed in the final two minutes of the half, as sophomore Scout Smith knocked down two long jumpers (both shots were inches away from being three-balls).

Add in a gorgeous floater from Kalia Littlejohn and CHS was back in business, trailing 23-13 at the break.

Blaine was having none of this comeback business, however, and came out of the locker room ready to drive a stake through Coupeville’s heart.

A trey from the right side and two free throws to start the half stretched the lead out to 15, and it would have been easy for the Wolves to roll over and accept defeat.

Instead, after a few reassuring words from their coach, they came out of the huddle shoulders high, heads thrown back and eyes full of flame.

Battling the bigger Borderites for every board, and getting into frequent scraps on the floor while fighting for, or creating, loose balls, the Wolves ramped up the intensity and sent a bolt of electricity through the stands.

A couple of driving layups from Elfrank and a sweet turnaround jumper in the paint from Lindsey Roberts, who backed down her taller defender before spinning and firing, kicked things off.

Coupeville cut the lead to eight, gave some back, swapped three-balls, then kept on coming, finally causing Blaine to crack a bit.

With the Borderites on their heels, CHS used a 14-5 run in the fourth, with Elfrank dropping in nine of her game-high 20, to get all the way back to within 41-38.

The final bucket came courtesy Littlejohn, who banked in a runner off of a note-perfect in-bounds pass from Elfrank.

The game’s final 50 seconds were a war, as both teams clamped down on defense, the ball was knocked loose approximately 237 times and Blaine hit three of four free-throws to ice things.

Even at the end, Coupeville kept coming, though.

A final three-point shot from Elfrank skidded off the rim, but Littlejohn, all five-feet-four-inches of her, sliced between Blaine’s twin towers and ripped the rebound down, then went right back up with a roar.

Knocked silly by multiple elbows, she barely flinched, turning and striding to the free-throw line, where she calmly sank a final free throw just to let Blaine know she remained unbowed.

Elfrank topped the stat sheet, snatching seven rebounds and handing out four assists to go with her season-high 20 points.

Littlejohn chipped in with nine points, four assists and four steals, while Smith and Roberts banged away for five points apiece.

Kalia did a really good job of being our floor general and Mikayla and Lindsey stepped up big in the second half,” King said. “They found their spark and took the ball hard to the hoop and made Blaine work for what they got.”

Coupeville’s hoops guru had praise for all seven of his players, noting the defensive intensity Allison Wenzel and Sarah Wright brought, while being matched up with taller rivals.

“They both got their hands on a lot of balls, and were in there fighting on every play,” King said.

His two sophomores, Renninger and Smith, were in their first and second varsity games, respectively, but betrayed no nerves common to younger players.

Scout handled herself really well and looked for her shot,” King said. “Avalon, for being in her first game, showed she will learn quickly. It was good to see her be able to make the proper corrections as she played.”

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Mikayla Elfrank, seen here in jamboree action, had a team-high seven rebounds Tuesday night. (John Fisken photo)

   Mikayla Elfrank (23), seen here in jamboree action, had a team-high seven rebounds Tuesday night. (John Fisken photo)

(David King photo)

Ready to kick off a new season. (David King photo)

They were flying high for a half.

If the Coupeville High School girls’ basketball squad could have left Blaine at halftime Tuesday, things would have been great.

Unfortunately, the host Borderites forced the Wolves to play a full 32 minutes on opening night, and used a second-half surge to run away with a 35-19 non-conference victory.

It was a disappointing finish after Coupeville jumped on their 2A foes en route to a 13-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

“We used so much energy (adrenaline) in the first half, due to some nerves and being the first game, that we didn’t leave enough in the tank for the second half,” said CHS coach David King.

“We came out sluggish and flat-footed (after the break),” he added. “This led to easy buckets for Blaine. We couldn’t stop their baseline drives all night.”

Things got off to a great start, as Lindsey Roberts swished a baseline jumper to kick off the new season.

Coupeville was aggressive on both ends of the floor in the early going, shutting the Borderites down for much of the first half.

“Our defense was the key and our catalyst the first half,” King said. “Started in a zone and prevented open looks for Blaine most of the half.”

But while the buckets fell for the Wolves in the first two quarters, the rim was unforgiving during the stretch run.

“Offensively in the second half we played horizontal instead of vertical and attacking the basket,” King said. “We left a lot of points on the rim all game long.

“Without watching film, I would say we missed 8-10 point blank shots on either post-up moves or rebound put-backs.”

Combined with a cold touch on free throws (“this seems to be a Coupeville girls bugaboo that’s carried over from seasons past”), the Wolves straggled home with just five second-half points.

While he would have preferred the second half to be a mirror image of the first half, King didn’t come away totally disappointed.

“We looked to run more tonight and the effort was there,” he said. “It will be exciting to watch the growth in this area as the season progresses.

“Overall I was pleased with our defense for a half and our effort in looking to push the ball,” King added. “We need to minimize our turnovers and shoot a better percentage.”

One Wolf in particular drew praise for her opening night work.

“When Allison (Wenzel) was called on, she gave us a big lift each time. Diving after loose balls and playing tough defense,” King said.

Mia Littlejohn paced Coupeville with five points, while Roberts (4), Kailey Kellner (3), Wenzel (2), Kalia Littlejohn (2), Lauren Rose (2) and Sarah Wright (1) all chipped in.

Mikayla Elfrank tore down seven rebounds while Roberts collected six and Wenzel snatched five. Kellner and Kalia Littlejohn had two assists apiece.

Kyla Briscoe (three boards), Lauren Grove and Tiffany Briscoe all saw playing time, as well.

Coupeville returns to action this weekend when it defends its title at the Friday Harbor Tip-Off Classic.

The Wolves open play Friday against Seattle Academy, then play either Seattle Lutheran or the tourney hosts Saturday.

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