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Ema Smith rippled the nets for 10 points Friday, as Coupeville made a play to upset Cedar Park Christian. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The upset died at the free-throw line.

The Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team played often-superb defense Friday night, hit some pressure-packed shots, and didn’t flinch when facing a very-talented foe.

But the one part of the game that the Wolves totally controlled — walking to the charity stripe with the clock stopped, then sinking shots — failed, and so did any hope of shocking visiting Cedar Park Christian.

Bouncing 12 of 22 free throws off the rim, Coupeville fell 37-28 and saw its chances to finish in the top two of the six-team North Sound Conference vanish.

With the loss, the Wolves drop to 5-3 in league play, 7-8 overall, and clinch third place, a slot better than where the preseason coaches poll had them finishing.

Coupeville, which has two regular season games left, will finish behind league champ King’s (8-0) and CPC (7-2), and ahead of Granite Falls (2-6), Sultan (2-6), and South Whidbey (0-7).

After hosting King’s next Tuesday, and traveling to Granite Friday, the Wolves open the double-elimination district tourney Feb. 4 on the road at Meridian.

If Coupeville had won Friday, it would have gone a half game up on CPC and still been in contention for second-place, and the home playoff opener which comes with that finish.

And, after losing by 20 points in Bothell the first time these teams played, the Wolves looked like a team very interested in playing out that scenario.

Forcing CPC star Irena Korolenko into a poor shooting performance, at least for awhile, Coupeville claimed the early lead and stayed within a bucket late into the third quarter.

Hannah Davidson, who hit the boards with a nice intensity, opened the scoring when she ripped a carom away from an Eagle and went right back up with it for the night’s first bucket.

Add an Ema Smith free throw and the Wolves were up 3-0, and ready to claim the win if the game had been called early.

It was not, however, and CPC reclaimed the lead for good at 4-3 late in the first quarter on a turnaround jumper from Korolenko.

Up 8-3 at the initial break, the Eagles stretched the lead to 10-3, but Coupeville didn’t back down this time out.

Ema Smith spiked a CPC shot back up-court, then followed the ball and sank a long three-ball when Scout Smith threaded a pass between defenders and onto her older teammate’s fingertips.

Another Scout Smith special, this one an outlet pass which soared through the air and dropped into the waiting arms of a sprinting Lindsey Roberts, kept the pressure on.

While Korolenko had eight points at the half, that was a bucket less than she scored in just the first quarter the last time the teams met, and a 14-10 deficit at the break certainly didn’t seem insurmountable.

CHS kept up the pressure in the third, forcing the Eagles out of their comfort zone, and staying within a basket until the final minute of the frame.

The Wolves couldn’t quite get over the hump, however, cutting the margin to 14-13 and 18-16, but missing free throws which would have given them the lead.

Meanwhile, Korolenko, who took, and hit, all seven Cedar Park free throws on the night, whistled four straight freebies through the net to close the third, then opened the fourth with a three-point play the hard way.

Suddenly, a one-score game had momentarily gotten out of hand, with the visitors up 27-16 and seemingly pulling away.

But, after some words of wisdom from coach David King, the Wolves got buckets from Ema Smith and Chelsea Prescott, packaged around a free throw, and the deficit was back to a manageable six points.

Korolenko is a star for a reason, though, and, after being “held” to 14 points through three quarters, she torched the Wolves for 11 more in the fourth.

While two long jumpers and a layup off an inbound pass stung, the ultimate killer came on a basket set up when Cedar Park saved a runaway ball at the last millisecond, and, against all odds, turned it into a gut-punch of a bucket.

Scrambling towards the line, Korolenko got her finger on the ball, somehow spinning it back onto the court as she crashed into the back wall.

As the ball hit the court, it took a perfect spin (for CPC), shooting between two Wolves and right to a surprised Eagle, who immediately hit a soft lil’ jumper in the paint.

Coupeville kept coming, with Scout Smith nailing a three-ball from the top of the arc to cut the margin to 33-28, but the Wolves couldn’t score across the final minute-plus, and Korolenko ended things with two more perfect free throws.

CHS, which missed three free throws in the first quarter, four more in the second, three in the third, and two in the fourth, was left to contemplate what could have been.

And what could still be, if the teams meet a third time in the postseason.

Ema Smith, who has been on a shooting tear of late, paced the Wolves with 10 points, pulling her within a single free throw of becoming the 55th Coupeville girl to score 200 in their career.

Davidson (4), Roberts (4), Scout Smith (4), Prescott (3), Avalon Renninger (2), and Ja’Kenya Hoskins (1) also scored, while Roberts and Hoskins snatched eight rebounds apiece.

Renninger dealt out three assists, Scout Smith pilfered two steals, and Ema Smith registered two blocks.

 

No JV:

Cedar Park doesn’t have a second team, so Coupeville’s young guns sat Friday night out.

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TJ Rickner banged in four points Friday as Coupeville’s JV went toe-to-toe with Cedar Park Christian. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A big leap forward.

The Coupeville High School JV boys basketball squad may have lost twice this season to Cedar Park Christian, but the Wolves drastically improved their performance the second time around.

Ten days ago, CHS went to Bothell and was blown out 61-24.

Jump forward to Friday night, and the final margin was single digits, even with Coupeville’s leading scorer sitting out an entire quarter.

With freshman Xavier Murdy’s playing time being protected in case he played in the varsity contest as well, the Wolves chipped away before eventually falling 60-51.

The loss drops the Coupeville young guns to 2-6 in North Sound Conference play, 6-9 overall, with two games left on the schedule.

The JV, which finishes with road games at South Whidbey and Granite Falls next week, closed out its home schedule with a game in which eight of nine players scored.

The big two in the opening quarter were Murdy, who tossed in seven, and fellow frosh Logan Martin, who banked in six.

Trailing 22-15 at the first break, CHS coach Chris Smith stashed Murdy on the bench in the second frame, while Daniel Olson stepped up to key the Wolf offense.

Going off for all seven of his points on the night, the sophomore swing player did his best to keep Coupeville close, and the Wolves went into the break down 39-27.

The second half, with Murdy back in action, and getting help from everyone on the floor, was a fairly even affair, as CHS attacked the deficit, only to run out of time.

Murdy topped the score-book with a team-high 16 points, while Martin added nine and Olson rattled the rim for seven.

Mitchell Hall (6), TJ Rickner (4), Grady Rickner (4), Cody Roberts (3) and Sage Downes (2) also scored, while Chris Ruck gave the team a burst of energy off the bench.

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Coupeville boys basketball coaches Brad Sherman (middle) and Chris Smith (right) couldn’t save their teams Tuesday from poor shooting performances. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Some nights you can’t buy a bucket.

Tuesday was one of those unfortunate evenings for the Coupeville High School boys basketball squads, which took a pair of beatings in Bothell.

How it played out:

 

Varsity:

Cedar Park Christian came out hot and never really cooled off, rolling to a 70-27 win over the Wolves.

The road loss drops CHS to 1-4 in North Sound Conference action, 2-10 overall.

Coupeville, which has played five of its last six games away from home, finally returns to Whidbey this Friday when it kicks off a three-game home stand.

The Wolves sit in fifth-place in its six-team league, and control their own destiny as they chase the conference’s final playoff berth.

A game-and-a-half up on Granite Falls (0-6), CHS beat the Tigers the first time around and close the regular season Feb. 1 at Granite.

Tuesday night, the Wolves ran into a CPC squad which was coming off a huge upset win over South Whidbey, and the Eagles weren’t ready to let their hot streak cool off.

Jumping out to a 20-6 lead after one, Cedar Park stretched the margin to 36-15 at the half, then sealed the deal with a devastating 16-0 surge in the third quarter.

The Eagles rained down nine three-balls in the game, while also hitting more than their share of regular field goals along the way.

Mason Grove sparked the resistance, hitting for a team-high eight points for Coupeville, while Hawthorne Wolfe ruffled the net for five and Sean Toomey-Stout banked in four.

Jacobi Pilgrim (3), Daniel Olson (3), Gavin Knoblich (2), and Jean Lund-Olsen (2) rounded out the scoring, with Olson netting his first varsity points on a fourth quarter three-ball.

 

JV:

For one quarter, Coupeville’s young guns were blazing. Then, they ran out of bullets.

Up 15-13 at the first break, the Wolves scraped together just nine points, and one lonely field goal, over the next 24 minutes, eventually falling 61-24.

The loss drops CHS to 2-3 in league play, 6-6 overall.

Things started off nicely, with Logan Martin swishing a pair of three-balls, Xavier Murdy banging home four points, and the Wolves controlling things in the opening frame.

After that, not so nice.

Sage Downes lofted in a three-ball in the third quarter, but that was the one and only field goal CHS would hit over the final three quarters.

Even with Coupeville’s inability to coax much through the rim, the game wasn’t a true blowout until a 22-1 CPC tsunami in the fourth made the final score more far-fetched than probably needed to be.

Murdy and Martin each finished with six points, while Olson, Grady Rickner and Downes tossed in four apiece to round out the Wolf attack.

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Lindsey Roberts is just the 24th CHS girls basketball player to score 400 career points. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’ve had better nights.

The Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball squad fell apart under an avalanche of turnovers Tuesday, and slipped a rung lower in the league standings because of it.

Falling 48-28 at Cedar Park Christian, the Wolves drop to 2-2 in North Sound Conference action, 4-7 overall.

After entering the night in second-place in the six-team league, CHS now sits tied for third with Granite Falls (2-2, 4-9), with six games to play.

The Wolves are chasing King’s (4-0, 9-3) and CPC (3-1, 6-5), while still ahead of Sultan (1-3, 4-8) and South Whidbey (0-4, 2-10).

Heading to Bothell, Coupeville knew the Eagles star, Irena Korolenko, was dangerous.

But knowing you need to stop someone and being able to do it are often two very different things.

Korolenko is as advertised for CPC,” said Coupeville coach David King. “She got them going early and often.

“She scored 25 points that looked effortless, from a variety of drives, jumpers and at the free-throw line.”

The Wolves, who recently put together a run of games in which they sparkled on offense, didn’t have that same golden touch this time out.

“Offensively we struggled all game until the fourth quarter,” King said. “Normally our defense leads us, but tonight we struggled.

“When our defense isn’t up to par it takes a toll on our offense.”

Trailing 12-6 after the first quarter, the Wolves went stone-cold in the second frame and never fully recovered.

Unable to net a single point over an eight-minute span, CHS entered the locker room facing a 26-6 deficit, and things didn’t improve much during the third quarter.

It was only in the fourth, a quarter they entered on the wrong side of a 44-13 score, in which the Wolves were able to rekindle their flame.

“All game long we looked for a lineup that would compete. We found it starting the fourth,” King said. “We rode the group of Scout (Smith), Chelsea (Prescott), Tia (Wurzrainer), Izzy (Wells), and Lindsey (Roberts).

“This lineup came out with energy and heart,” he added. “The effort picked up defensively and like it does for us, it guided our offense. They got steals, rebounded well and had an urgency on both ends of the court.”

Prescott led the way down the stretch, banging home five points, while Roberts and Scout Smith each added four, and CHS closed the game on a 15-4 tear, even with Korolenko on the floor.

While the finale was a positive, Coupeville was stung by 28 turnovers and poor free throw shooting, netting only seven of 19 freebies.

“I knew this would be a tough game; we seemed to be evenly-matched based on scores from games played, but tonight, CPC outplayed us and out-coached us,” King said. “The positive we can take from this game was the play in the fourth quarter.”

Roberts finished with a team-high nine points and 10 rebounds, exiting the game with 408 career points, passing Ashley Manker (404) for #23 on the Wolf girls all-time scoring list.

Scout Smith tossed in six in support, Prescott notched five, Avalon Renninger banked home three, Ema Smith and Wells netted a bucket apiece and Nicole Laxton tickled the twines for a free throw.

Just a sophomore, Prescott became the fourth active player and 98th in the 45-year history of the Wolf girls program to top 100 career points.

With 102 and counting, she’s hot on the trail of Roberts, Ema Smith (153) and Scout Smith (110).

 

Cedar Park doesn’t have a girls JV team, so Coupeville’s second unit had the night off.

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Coupeville’s Ben Smith snagged his first varsity reception Friday in a loss against Cedar Park Christian. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for closers.

If we follow the golden rule thrown down by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, the Coupeville High School football team gets no caffeine this morning.

Because, while the Wolves forced and recovered three fumbles Friday in Kirkland, and pulled off several outstanding pass plays, the one thing they couldn’t do was close against host Cedar Park Christian.

Unable to stuff the ball in the end zone, or prevent the Eagles from doing the same, Coupeville fell 42-0, handing CPC the win it needed to clinch the North Sound Conference title.

Win or lose the regular-season finale Oct. 26, Cedar Park (4-0 in league play) will hang the first league championship banner in program history.

And it only took disgraced former Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff two years to turn his new squad from also-rans to winners.

In the other NSC games played Friday, King’s shredded Sultan 52-13, while South Whidbey held off Granite Falls 19-14.

With one week left in the regular season, King’s (3-1) and South Whidbey (3-1) have also clinched playoff berths, and their game next Friday will decide the league’s #2 and #3 playoff seeds.

The fourth, and final, conference postseason berth is still up for grabs, with Granite Falls (1-3) and Sultan (1-3) tied, a game up on Coupeville (0-4).

If the Wolves, who are 3-5 overall, uphold Senior Night honor Oct. 26 and beat Granite Falls, and Sultan loses against CPC, it would leave all three teams in a deadlock.

For a moment Friday, it looked like Coupeville might be able to hold its own with Cedar Park, even playing on unfamiliar turf and having made its longest road trip of the season.

The Wolves got the ball first, with a strong kickoff return from Shane Losey setting the table.

A couple of ziggy, zaggy runs from Sean Toomey-Stout helped CHS move the ball, and, when they momentarily stalled, they took advantage of an Eagle error.

Coupeville lofted a nice punt, the ball popped free from the Eagle receiver, and Toomey-Stout alertly jumped on the runaway pigskin, helping the Wolves pick up an accidental 30 yards and a new set of downs starting at the CPC 26-yard line.

After both teams exchanged penalties, Wolf QB Dawson Houston dropped a sparkling pass down the left sideline for 12 yards, hitting Toomey-Stout right on the hands and CHS was knocking on heaven’s door.

It wasn’t to be, though, as a botched snap cost Coupeville eight yards, and then the Eagles defense stiffened, knocking away potential pass receptions on back-to-back plays to force a turnover on downs.

At that exact moment, with CPC going under center for the first time, and with the Wolves having carved six and a half minutes off the clock, it looked like the night might be a nail-biter.

The Eagles had other ideas though. Horrifying ideas.

A team known for running suddenly debuted an electrifying pass attack, garnering 46 yards on a long pass play down the middle of the field.

Before Coupeville could recover its composure, CPC sent a runner rambling the final 17 yards needed for the game’s first touchdown.

And, just like that, in two plays, the Eagles accomplished what the Wolves couldn’t get done in an opening drive which went 17 plays.

Proving it wasn’t a fluke, while also conserving energy, Cedar Park used just three plays to score a TD on its next possession, with a long pass, a questionable roughing the passer penalty and a short run combining to cover 39 yards and put CPC up 14-0 after one quarter of play.

The Eagles put the game on ice in the second quarter, with TD passes of 31 and 10 yards, followed by a 56-yard bolt to daylight.

The fifth score stung more than most, as it came one play after Derek Leyva saved a touchdown by chasing down a CPC runner from behind and yanking him down at the one-yard line.

After all that, the play was called back due to a holding call on Cedar Park, which just gave the host team a bit more room to run on the next snap.

Houston moved Coupeville down the field, connecting on big pass plays with Leyva and Toomey-Stout, but both drives stalled out at crunch time, leaving the Wolves with little to show for their efforts.

The first of Leyva’s two catches in the second quarter was especially impressive, as the converted soccer star went airborne, waited until two CPC defenders mashed him, one from each side, then, and only then, pulling in the pass and holding on to it for dear life.

Toomey-Stout added his second fumble recovery right before the half, while Andrew Martin, Dane Lucero and Ryan Labrador anchored the defense, piling up tackles.

But Cedar Park tacked on a final touchdown on the very first play of the third quarter, taking the kickoff to the house to stretch the lead out to its final margin of 42-0.

In the late going, Houston continued to chip away at the defense, taking what little it offered him, with superb passes under pressure to Lucero and Ben Smith.

With a running clock in affect after the third-quarter kickoff return, the second half moved quickly.

Coupeville, which was playing without starters Chris Battaglia, Matt Hilborn, Gavin St Onge, Jake Pease and Xavier Murdy, did its best to put up a fight until the final whistle.

Alex Turner terrorized Cedar Park’s backup ball-carriers, stuffing several running plays, while Leyva recovered his first fumble to cap his best all-around game in his short gridiron career.

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