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Freshman Andrew Aparicio rebounded “like a beast” Friday, as Coupeville’s C-Team wrapped its season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The seeds have been planted.

When Scott Fox stepped on the court this season, his first as coach of the Coupeville High School boys C-Team basketball squad, he found a batch of very raw players.

What a difference two months make.

“That first practice, it took us a half hour to run a three-man weave drill,” he said with a chuckle. “And now here we are competing with a solid team like Cedar Park Christian and putting together our best game to date.

“I’m really proud of these kids.”

Friday night’s home game against CPC was the season finale for the C-Team, and they went out scrapping all the way.

Down by just a single point at the half, the Wolves lost leading scorer Jaylen Nitta to a recurring injury and eventually fell 45-29, but Fox walked out of the gym wearing a proud grin.

“We rebounded toe to toe with them,” he said. “Andrew (Aparicio) was like a beast out there tonight, and Chris (Cernick) and Miles (Davidson) were right there with him.”

Before he went down with his injury, Nitta tossed in a team-high 12 points, while Aparicio added a season-best five of his own.

Brayden Coatney (4), Jonathan Partida (4), Ben Smith (2), and Tony Garcia (2) rounded out the Wolf attack.

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Chris Cernick, who has crashed the boards hard all season, knocked down eight points Monday in a rumble with Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Bringing defensive heat, Wolf bangers (l to r) Ben Smith, Cernick and Miles Davidson fouled out Monday, but left a trail of destruction in their wake. (Deb Smith photo)

Success on the basketball court is about more than just wins and losses.

For a young, wildly-inexperienced team, improvement, dedication and fire in the belly tells a coach a lot.

Which is why Scott Fox, a hoops veteran pulling his first tour of duty at Coupeville High School, was all smiles after his boys C-Team fell Monday in a tightly-contested game with visiting 3A Oak Harbor.

“You look back to when we started this in November, and we’ve come a long way,” he said. “These kids have bought in to what we want to do. We’ll still make some mistakes, sure, but not like in the beginning.

“I’m proud of what they have given me,” Fox added. “It’s fun to coach kids when they like to be coached.”

While Coupeville ultimately lost 41-30 Monday, it was a marked change from the first time the two schools met back in the season-opener.

That game was a blowout. This one was anything but.

This time around, the Wolves struck first, hung tough in the late going, and never lost focus even after whistle-happy refs fouled out almost half Coupeville’s roster.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, three of eight Wolves (Chris Cernick, Miles Davidson, and Ben Smith) had been sent to the bench for good, while several other teammates were close to joining them.

Invoking memories of ’80s NBA basketball (when pretty-boy three-ball shooters frequently had their chins massaged by flying elbows), the Wolf defenders left a trail of tears (and possibly some rattled teeth).

Oak Harbor seemed a bit shaken by the mosh pit in the paint, failing to take advantage of a huge lead in free throw attempts.

Dropping in just 12 of 38 tries from the charity stripe (a meager 31.5% “success” rate), the Wildcats left the door open for Coupeville.

And, while the Wolves couldn’t quite get all the way home (10 missed free throws of their own didn’t help), they did push their big city rivals up and down the floor.

Keying things was the springy speedster, Jaylen Nitta, who threw down three of the first four buckets of the night on his way to a team-high 17 points.

Strong enough to hold on to the ball under extreme pressure, and quick enough to break the OHHS press on his own most times, Nitta was in full-on wheel-and-deal mode, and he got some help from the bangers inside.

Cernick, a first-year hoops player whose game has improved by leaps and bounds, continued his emergence as a rebounder to watch.

Whether out-leaping his foes, or using his long arms to pluck the ball from the air right as it came off the glass, he was also able to take several offensive rebounds right back up for put-backs.

That brought an especially big smile to the face of Fox, since he works with all of Coupeville’s big men — varsity, JV and C-Team — and is seeing his work pay off with an increase in toughness from his charges.

Coupeville pulled out to a 6-3 lead in the early going, with Nitta’s buckets punctuated by Cernick rising up and swatting a ‘Cat shot into the cheap seats, before the Wolves settled for an 8-8 tie at the first break.

The second quarter was the one frame in which the Wolves cracked, at least for a bit, and it would ultimately deny them the win.

Take away Oak Harbor’s 12-3 advantage across the second eight-minute span, and the game would have been 29-27.

But, even after falling behind, the Wolves made charges to kick-off both the third and fourth quarters.

Two buckets from Cernick, packaged around a pair of free throws from Jonathan Partida, cut the lead back to 22-17 early in the second half.

Then, after seeing its deficit grow to 11 by the end of the third, CHS struck hard to launch the fourth quarter.

Nitta whistled home a three-ball on the move to start things, before he picked the pocket of a Wildcat ball-handler and went coast to coast for a layup.

Back within 28-22, Coupeville had its momentum blunted by the frequent bleat of a ref’s whistle after that, as the fourth quarter became a foul-strewn death march.

The Wolves, having already lost one interior player, watched two more go to the bench permanently in the fourth as they tried to stop one sturdily-built, surprisingly-nimble Oak Harbor football player in particular.

Unable to get enough momentum going to stop the impending loss, the Wolves continued to scrap, however.

Andrew Aparicio, Brayden Coatney, and Tony Garcia fortified the CHS defense, all coming up with big hustle plays, while Smith was busy slappin’ fools upside the head all the way until the refs sent him away.

Even with just a few ticks left on the clock, the Wolves managed to draw a technical foul after baiting Oak Harbor into getting too close on inbound plays twice. For a team learning as it goes, solid evidence the work is paying off.

Nitta, who capped his night by swishing a free throw off the tech, finished with 17, while Cernick banked in eight and Partida rippled the nets for five.

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Ben Smith nailed several big fourth-quarter shots Saturday, helping the Coupeville C-Team topple South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Revenge!

A day after Coupeville’s JV boys basketball squad lost to South Whidbey, the Wolf C-Team swept in and got some payback.

Playing at a tournament in Granite Falls Saturday, the Wolves put on a defensive clinic in the second half, toppling a Falcon squad which featured 9 of its school’s 14 JV players, including the leading scorer from Friday night.

Coupeville’s own seven-player team took a hit in the nightcap, losing its top player to an early injury and eventually falling to the tourney hosts, but CHS coach Scott Fox came away pleased with the day-long excursion.

“Got the monkey off our backs!”, he said. “We put together a great win against South Whidbey!

“Team played awesome defense in the second half.”

The Wolf C-Team, now 1-7 on the season, returns home to host Oak Harbor Monday. Tip-off is 5 PM.

How Saturday played out:

 

South Whidbey:

The game was a tale of two very different halves, as the Wolf comeback kings stormed from behind to net a 28-16 win.

Jaylen Nitta tossed in four of his game-high 14 points in the opening quarter, but Coupeville found itself in a 12-5 hole at the first break.

Things didn’t get much better, though not necessarily all that much worse either, during a second quarter which was brutal for lovers of offensive play.

The Falcons garnered the only points of the frame with a lonely field goal, but, as they went to the locker room up 14-5, little did they know they would never, ever hit from the field again.

Perhaps inspired by a Lombardi-style speech from their coach, or just revived by the intermission, the Wolves attacked ferociously once play started back up.

With Nitta running wild, dumping in six more points in the third, CHS used a 10-0 run to turn their deficit into a one-point lead.

After that, it was time for “Big Game BenSmith to take over, as he rifled in a pair of shots from way outside in the fourth, keying a 13-2 surge to nail down the win.

South Whidbey’s only second-half points came courtesy two free throws, as the Falcons failed to hit a single field goal after the halftime break.

Nitta finished with 14 points to lead the way, while Smith (6), Chris Cernick (3), Jonathan Partida (3), and Tony Garcia (2) also scored.

Brayden Coatney and Andrew Aparicio rounded out the plucky Wolf squad, coming strong on defense alongside their teammates.

 

Granite Falls:

Nitta went down early, and without their leading scorer, CHS fell 43-22.

After trailing 13-2 at the first break, the Wolves cut the lead back to seven by the half, and were still within single digits until the game slipped away in the fourth quarter.

While Granite had a 10-6 advantage in players, Partida, in particular, didn’t back down.

Nailing a trio of three-balls, he scored in every quarter while tickling the nets for a season-best 15 points.

Coatney, Aparicio, and Garcia chipped in with two apiece, while Cernick swished a free-throw to cap the Wolf scoring.

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Jaylen Nitta dropped in 14 points Thursday as Coupeville’s C-Team invaded Mount Vernon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jaylen Nitta was feelin’ it.

The speedy Coupeville High School guard singed the nets Thursday for a season-high 14 points, but it wasn’t enough to derail a very-good Mount Vernon freshman squad.

The Bulldogs, repping a large 4A school, pulled away after halftime, earning a season-sweep of 1A Coupeville’s C-Team with a 62-19 win.

With the road loss, the Wolves drop to 0-6 on the season.

But Coupeville’s C-Team gets a chance to jump right back into action, as it plays four games across the next five days.

The Wolves travel to Granite Falls Saturday for a tournament in which they get two games, then return home Monday to face Oak Harbor.

That match-up is part of a two-game affair between the Island neighbors, as the Coupeville JV girls kick off things with a 3 PM game against the Wildcats.

The Wolf boys face their Oak Harbor C-Team counterparts at 5 PM, and both games are free to the public.

Thursday night, Coupeville kept things close in the first half, trailing by 14 at the break against a Bulldog squad comprised of fast, springy players.

Nitta pumped in 12 of his 14 before the break, opening with six points in the first quarter before throwing down another eight in the second frame.

Mount Vernon’s speed and aggressiveness derailed any chances of a Wolf comeback after the break, however.

“We were fairly close, but they are undefeated this year and showed us why in the second half,” said CHS coach Scott Fox. “We fought hard, but made too many mistakes that they capitalized on.

“On to Saturday’s games!”

Chris Cernick battled in the paint for four points to back Nitta and his 14, while Ben Smith swished a third-quarter free throw to round out the scoring attack.

Jonathan Partida, Andrew Aparicio, Tony Garcia, and Brayden Coatney rounded out the active Wolf roster, all seeing substantial floor time.

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Damon Stadler sank a pair of three-balls Tuesday, scoring a team-high eight points for the Wolf C-Team. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Play for today, build for tomorrow.

The Coupeville High School boys basketball C-Team hit a lot of the right notes Tuesday night, something which pleases coach Scott Fox.

The Wolves put together their best shooting performance of the season, and, while they came up short in a 44-29 loss to visiting Granite Falls, the signs of growth and improvement are everywhere.

“Kids responded with a great practice yesterday and it produced our best offensive outburst to date,” Fox said. “We lost, but competed hard and are starting to play together and aggressive.

“Very happy with the effort and performance.”

Damon Stadler and Jaylen Nitta sparked the Wolf offense, netting eight points apiece, with Stadler knocking down a pair of three-balls from great distance.

The duo were backed by Chris Cernick, who worked hard in the paint to notch six, while Jonathan Partida (4), Brayden Coatney (2) and Ben Smith (1) also scored.

Tony Garcia and Andrew Aparicio rounded out the roster, with all eight Wolves in action bringing the heat on both ends of the floor.

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