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The middle school hoops schedule has been ripped up, leaving 8th grade players like Carolyn Lhamon with less games than expected. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Never write anything down in ink.

Exactly a week before Coupeville Middle School girls basketball players begin practice for a new season, their entire schedule has been blown up.

League athletic directors had to make the change after discovering several schools wouldn’t be able to field teams at all levels.

King’s Junior High, which CMS was originally scheduled to play twice, will not have an 8th grade team. Northshore Christian also won’t have an 8th grade squad, or a JV team for that matter.

After some fiddling, Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith and his compatriots have pieced together a new schedule which will work, though be unbalanced.

The Wolves plan to field a 7th grade varsity, an 8th grade varsity and one combined team for JV play.

Under the new schedule, the only CMS team to still have a complete 10-game schedule is the 7th grade varsity.

The JV will sit out against Northshore, while the 8th grade varsity is left with just eight games.

It could have gone as low as seven, but AD’s shaved off Coupeville’s second game against King’s and replaced it with a second game against Lakewood.

The new, we’re pretty sure this is real, schedule:

 

Tues-Feb. 5 — South Whidbey
Thur-Feb. 7 — @Lakewood
Tues-Feb. 12 — @Granite Falls
Thur-Feb. 14 — King’s (**No 8th grade varsity**)
Wed-Feb. 20 — @Sultan
Thur-Feb. 21 — @Northshore Christian (**7th varsity only**)
Tues-Feb. 26 — Granite Falls
Thur-Mar. 5 — @South Whidbey
Tues-Mar. 12 — Lakewood
Thur-Mar. 14 — Sultan

 

All home games tip at 3:15 PM.

Mondays and Tuesdays, the 7th grade varsity plays first, followed by a two-quarter JV game, then the 8th grade varsity.

Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8th grade varsity plays first, then JV, then 7th grade varsity.

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Avalon Renninger and Coupeville basketball kick off the 2019 portion of their season Friday in Shoreline. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The calendar flips, and who knows what awaits us?

Looking ahead at 2019, the one thing we know for sure is this – no one knows nothing.

There will undoubtedly be surprises galore, and, hopefully, they’ll fall more on the positive side than the negative side.

But here’s a few things to keep an eye on as we move ahead.

 

WINTER:

From here on out, it’s all league games for the Coupeville High School basketball teams.

The Wolf girls sit at 2-0 in North Sound Conference play, 4-5 overall, heading into “The Showdown in Shoreline” Friday, which pits CHS against King’s (2-0, 7-3) for sole-possession of first in the North Sound Conference.

Win or lose, Coupeville has seven more league clashes after that, and can punch a ticket to the postseason if it finishes in the top five in a six-team league.

The CHS boys (0-1, 1-7) are currently in 4th place, but, with nine games remaining, also control their own destiny.

Several Wolves are chasing individual accomplishments, beginning with Lindsey Roberts.

The senior captain sits at #24 on the career scoring chart, with 390 points, and is just 36 from cracking the all-time top 20.

While Roberts has the biggest story-line, there’s also senior Ema Smith, who needs a bucket to reach 150 career points and sophomore Chelsea Prescott, who is a three-ball shy of 100 career points.

Prescott would be the 98th CHS girl between 1975-2019 to break triple digits, joining Roberts, Ema Smith and junior Scout Smith (103 points) as active players in the exclusive club.

On the boys side of the ball, junior Mason Grove is the top active scorer, with 95 career points to his name. Net five more and he becomes the 162nd Wolf male in the modern era to hit 1-0-0.

Hot on his heels is freshman Hawthorne Wolfe, who leads Coupeville with 84 points in eight games.

He’s trying to become just the fifth Wolf boy in 102 seasons to toss in 100+ varsity points during his 9th grade season, and has his eyes on Mike Bagby’s frosh boys scoring record of 137.

While the CHS hoops squads return to action, they’ll soon be joined by the Coupeville Middle School girls.

The biggest moment of the winter, however, will play out off the court.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association meets Jan. 28 to vote on amendments which could toss everything topsy-turvy.

There’s a ton of moving parts, but here’s the simple breakdown.

If the biggest amendment on the agenda is approved (and it’s heavily favored), the WIAA will change how it classifies schools for athletics.

Instead of trying to keep things relatively balanced, by forcing a similar number of schools to fit into each level (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B, 1B), there would be set numbers.

Under that set-up, if you have 105-224 students, you’re 2B. Count 225-449 bodies and it’s 1A, and so on.

While final numbers for each school are still in flux, as the WIAA also works on a formula to aid schools which give an above-average amount of free or reduced-price lunches, the change could benefit Coupeville.

It’s very possible CHS, one of the smallest 1A schools for many years, would slip back to 2B under the new counts.

If so, the Wolves would ditch the new North Sound Conference after one year and head back to the Northwest League and old-school foes like La Conner, Concrete and Friday Harbor, beginning next fall.

Then again, if things go like they have in the past, Coupeville will miss the new count by half a body and be locked into being the smallest school in 1A for all eternity.

Only time will tell.

 

SPRING:

Coupeville exited the Olympic League with a splash, winning five league titles (baseball, softball, girls and boys track, girls tennis) last spring, before adding a district title and 5th place team finish at state for boys track.

With new foes and new players in key roles, all of those teams face new challenges, but a few Wolves are primed to make runs at records.

On the soccer pitch, junior cousins Derek and Aram Leyva can make an assault on the boys soccer career scoring record, held by Aram’s big brother, Abraham.

Abraham scored 45 goals over three seasons before graduating, while Derek set the Wolf boys single-season mark of 24 in his first go-around last year.

Aram, with 19 tallies (six as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore), isn’t far behind, and the duo could join Abraham, Mia Littlejohn (35) and Kalia Littlejohn (33) in the 30-goal club.

On the track oval, seniors Roberts (100 hurdles) and Danny Conlisk (400) are coming off 2nd place finishes in Cheney, and would love to break Coupeville’s state title drought.

The last Wolf to stand on top of the podium was Tyler King, who claimed a cross country championship in fall 2010. Several months before that, he won a pair of track titles, as well.

Roberts has claimed five competitive state track meet medals, earning at least one each year, and is tied with Yashmeen Knox for third all-time among Wolf girls.

Makana Stone (7) and Natasha Bamberger (6) are the last two for her to catch.

Joining an exclusive club, Conlisk used his performance in the 400 to become just the 23rd Wolf to collect a third competitive medal.

With every medal after this, the club just gets more and more exclusive.

 

NEXT FALL:

Will Coupeville jump to 2B (boys and girls soccer together in the fall, and a lot less private schools), or dig in and plow ahead in 1A?

Can middle school football, which shut down two games early this past fall, be saved?

And most importantly, will I still be able to walk after months more of working on my sister’s homestead, Never Free Farm?

Well, like someone once said – no one knows nothing.

But I do know this – next fall brings a new class of talented freshmen to the high school, while “The Chosen One,” basketball whiz kid Savina Wells, enters 7th grade and gets to finally lay waste to middle school foes.

So, that’s a big something, something right there.

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What do I want to see in 2019? I want to see every Coupeville athlete show the heart Alita Blouin does. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

How best to end 2018? With a story.

It’s one small moment from a year, but it says so much, without a word being spoken aloud.

To set the scene, I will say this — in the world of high school and middle school sports, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, matters as much as heart.

I’m not naive. Talent is huge. Top-level facilities, inspiring coaches, access to quality equipment, all obviously have a major impact.

Camped here in the middle of a rock, which sits in the water, quite a distance from the opportunities enjoyed by big city schools, or Richie Rich private schools, or the combination of both, provides a major hurdle for Coupeville teams and athletes.

It is what it is.

You can complain all day, or you can get working.

And that is where heart comes in.

The best athletes I have witnessed come through Cow Town, the most-successful teams, all have something in common – they do not quit, they do not stop working, and they believe, down deep in their soul, that there is absolutely, positively NO REASON they can’t be the best.

Marlene Grasser to Makana Stone, Bill Riley to Hunter Smith, heart, above all else.

And this is where we come to my year-capping story.

Over the past couple of years, I have been very impressed with the Wolf female athletes who are currently in 8th grade at Coupeville Middle School.

There is talent, desire, and heart to be found in their male counterparts, but this group, which has come up playing together, is something different.

From Maddie Georges to Gwen Gustafson to Hayley Fiedler and beyond, they have an air about them very similar to what the Coupeville High School girls of the late ’90s and early 2000’s had.

That time period is the most successful in CHS female athletic history, and I believe this current crop, especially mixed with the class or two right above and below them, is primed to make their own history.

And one moment, a small, but significant moment during warm-ups, not even in a game, has sealed the deal for me.

Of all the CMS female athletes, Alita “The Assassin” Blouin is the one, who, for me, towers above the field.

She’s not very tall, maybe, but she is quick and, this is where it gets good, every time I have seen her play volleyball or basketball, she carries herself with the look of a young woman who fully intends to beat you, and beat you badly.

Off the court, all smiles, as friendly as anyone, but on the court, she looks like she wants to rip her opponent’s knees off and feed them through a wood chipper.

To which I say, YES.

It’s about dang time a Coupeville athlete didn’t back down at the sight of a fancy uniform, time they expected to win, and win because they had put in the hard work to get there.

Which brings us to our moment.

As CMS went through warm-ups before a volleyball match this season, the 8th grade team started to run laps around the floor.

Blouin, a team captain, was out in front, serious and locked-in. No coasting for her.

At which point, one of her teammates, Lucy Tenore, who is considerably taller than Blouin and has a much-longer stride, started to try and pass her friend.

Blouin would not let it happen.

Tenore, smile growing bigger and bigger, tried a second time, then a third, while Blouin refused to give in.

Legs pumping, elbows at alert, Blouin fended off Tenore at every turn, using three steps to cover the ground Tenore covered in one, all the while with her face locked in a death mask of concentration.

Tenore, fully laughing at this point, finally relented, only to see Blouin kick it up a notch to a sprinter’s run to finish the final curve, one eye looking over her shoulder just in case anyone else wanted to get foolish.

During the match, the duo dazzled, with Blouin popping perfect set-ups for Tenore to reach up and smash. With each winner, they hugged, smacked hands and smiled.

After the match, the two hung out together in the stands, half-sprawled across each other as only teen girls can pull off, laughing and talking, the best of friends.

But the statement had been made — no one, no where, no how, is going to get past Alita Blouin, a relatively small girl with a heart the size of the universe.

I doubt very many people noticed the moment. And if they did, they might not have thought anything of it at the time.

But in that moment, everything I hope to see as a grizzled sports writer, was on display.

As we head into 2019, what do I want for Coupeville sports?

I want every single Wolf athlete, high school and middle school, to attack the day like Alita Blouin does.

Do that, and there’s greatness ahead.

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Gwen Gustafson and Co. will soon be back for another season of wheelin’, dealin’ and droppin’ buckets. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

You have six weeks to get your affairs in order.

And to figure out where your laminating machine is hidden.

We’re in the thick of high school basketball right now, but Coupeville Middle School girls hoops is on its way.

The first day of practice arrives Jan. 22, and the first game hits Feb. 7 – hence the six-week warning.

The 10-game schedule (ready to be printed out, laminated and attached to your frig):

Thur-Feb. 7 — South Whidbey
Tues-Feb. 12 — @King’s
Thur-Feb. 14 — Sultan
Wed-Feb. 20 — @Granite Falls
Thur-Feb. 21 — Lakewood
Tues-Feb. 26 — @Northshore Christian
Tues-Mar. 5 — @South Whidbey
Thur-Mar. 7 — King’s
Tues-Mar. 12 — @Sultan
Thurs-Mar. 14 — Granite Falls

All home games start at 3:15 PM.

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Though only a 6th grader, Savina Wells played a major role for a Coupeville 8th grade SWISH team which finished 7-3 this season. (Katy Wells photo)

Wolf hoops coach Lark Gustafson poses with his favorite player, daughter Gwen. (Irene Gustafson photos)

Back (l to r) Brionna Blouin, Ryan Georges, Ryanne Knoblich, Savina Wells, Carolyn Lhamon, Lauren Marrs, Lark Gustafson. Front: Nezi Keiper, Gwen Gustafson, Hayley Fiedler, Alita Blouin, Maddie Georges.

They walked in the gym door as winners, and walked out as winners.

The Coupeville 8th grade SWISH girls basketball team opened its season Nov. 3 with a big victory, and officially closed its season Saturday with another huge triumph.

Bouncing back from a one-play loss to Mount Vernon in the morning, the Wolves shredded Orcas Island in the afternoon finale, earning a split and 4th place at their league tourney.

That capped a 7-3 season for Coupeville, which will now send most of its players on to the middle school hoops season which begins in late Jan.

The team’s leading rebounder, Savina Wells, is the lone Wolf among a roster of 10 who can’t play for CMS this season.

That’s because, unlike her teammates, she’s still in 6th grade, and has a year before she’s eligible for middle school sports.

 

Saturday’s results:

 

Tough loss:

Coupeville led Mount Vernon Judd and Black for much of the game, but watched things slip away in the 4th and fell 24-22.

The Wolves jumped out to a 6-4 lead after one quarter, fueled by four points from Maddie Georges, then (slightly) stretched things out to 10-7 at the half.

Mount Vernon hung tough, though, carving off a point in the third, then closing things with a game-busting 9-5 surge in the final frame.

Georges paced Coupeville with seven points, while Alita Blouin and Gwen Gustafson banked home six apiece, and Wells knocked down three.

 

Strong swan song:

The Wolves bounced back in their second game, swatting Orcas 23-12, with seven of 10 Wolves scoring.

The first half was a defensive struggle, with Coupeville clinging to a 6-3 lead.

After the break, things got much spicier, as the Wolves went on a game-ending 17-9 surge across the third and fourth quarters.

Georges continued to have the hottest of hot hands, topping Coupeville with six points, while Wells (5), Gustafson (4), Brionna Blouin (3), Ryanne Knoblich (2), Carolyn Lhamon (2), and Alita Blouin (1) also scored.

Lauren Marrs, Nezi Keiper, and Hayley Fielder all saw floor time, and all made contributions.

That continued a season-long trend, as a hallmark of the team coached by Lark Gustafson was its balance.

Every one of the 10 Wolf girls brought their own special talents to the floor, and they meshed well as a group, putting a positive glow on the future of Coupeville girls basketball.

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