Posts Tagged ‘district playoffs’

Ema Smith scored 10 points Wednesday, including hitting a pair of three-balls, as Coupeville knocked off Sultan in its playoff opener. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Seize the moment.

Handed an unexpected home playoff game Wednesday, thanks to snow and ice derailing the first two days of the district playoffs, the Coupeville High School girls basketball team rose to the occasion.

Using a third-quarter that was filled with equal parts offensive fire and defensive grit, the Wolves blew open a close game with Sultan, eventually strolling home with a 48-37 win in front of their enthusiastic home fans.

The victory, the fifth in the last seven games for Coupeville, evens its record at 9-9, heading into a second loser-out playoff game.

That bout, tentatively set for Friday, sends the Wolves to Shoreline to play North Sound Conference champ King’s. The Knights are 16-5 after being bopped 65-48 by Lynden Christian, the #2 seed from the Northwest Conference.

With another snow storm expected to arrive Friday night, there is a chance the game will be moved to Thursday.

Whichever day it’s played, the winner punches their ticket to bi-districts, while the loser packs up their stuff and heads for the season-ending banquet.

The weather has put a crimp in how the postseason is proceeding, but hasn’t seemed to faze the Wolves.

The snow and ice which smashed Washington state delayed the start of the District 1 tourney, and what was supposed to be a double-elimination event was changed into a modified single-elimination one.

With the change, CHS went from opening on the road to hosting a game, while drawing a lesser-ranked opponent.

But, with the change, the Wolves also lost any chance to have a bad game and still be able to bounce back.

If the fact Wednesday’s game was a loser-out affair, it didn’t seem to bother Coupeville’s players, who came out looking relaxed and with a bounce in their step.

Given an extra home game, senior captains Lindsey Roberts and Ema Smith embraced the situation, combining to score 26 points while driving the Turk defenders batty.

The duo kicked off the game by hitting three-balls, with Smith drilling hers from the top of the arc, while Roberts was waiting when teammate Hannah Davidson yanked down a rebound and whirled, firing a beautifully-placed kick-out pass.

Lofting the ball almost as soon as it hit her fingertips, Roberts erased Sultan’s only lead of the game, with her trey putting the Wolves up 6-4.

A pair of free throws from Chelsea Prescott and a hustle basket from Ema Smith later, and CHS headed to the first break up 10-6.

Smith’s bucket came off of an offensive rebound which hit the hands of two players as it shot backwards, before popping straight up in the air.

Floating in the airspace above the paint, “Ema the Electrifying” speared the ball while dancing through a mass of defenders, then flipped the orb back up and in, barely ruffling the net as she did.

The second quarter was the lowest-scoring frame of the night, with both teams exchanging defensive stands more than popping buckets.

Roberts, playing on mom Sherry’s birthday, provided much of the second-quarter fireworks with a three-point play earned the hard way.

Pump-faking her defender into the still-frosty parking lot, the four-year varsity vet spun past her, crashed hard to the hoop and slapped home the bucket.

Then, grimacing slightly as she let the burn of an elbow she took to the noggin settle in, the unflappable one zipped the “and-one” free throw through the bottom of the net.

It was one of two truly standout offensive plays in the quarter, the other provided by Scout Smith and Prescott, as the former whipped a pass half the length of the court, feeding her younger teammate for a breakaway layup.

Making the play sweeter, and more highlight-reel-worthy, a lonely Sultan defender almost got back in time to stop Prescott.


Showing composure under fire, the Wolf sophomore slowed her roll at just the right moment, let the Turk fly by out of control, then stepped strong to the glass and made dang sure the ball went down and stayed down.

As the teams went to the locker room at halftime, it felt like a game in which Coupeville was very much in control.

The scoreboard however, showing just a 17-11 Wolf lead, gave the Turks some hope.

Enter Roberts, fire shooting from her eyes, and exit Sultan, staggered, unable to slow down, much less stop, a Cow Town hoops legend who exited by reminding all of us just how good she can be.

There has never been a moment in her prep career when Lou, daughter of two CHS Athlete of the Year winners, has been anything less than a varsity player, in any of her three sports.

The rare athlete who can’t tell you what a JV game feels like, the next-to-last star in her large, extended family (lil’ bro Landon is on his way), Lindsey Roberts has been the real deal, every step of the way.

In track, her blazing feet do her talking. In soccer, her bionic kicking leg shatters the atmosphere.

But in basketball, Roberts has played many roles in the past four years, from rebounder to defensive ace to Scottie Pippen-style running mate.

Wednesday night, in her final appearance on the CHS hardwood, she truly stepped up and, without maybe saying the words out loud, screamed “Give me the dang ball if you want to live!”

It showed every time she touched the leather, especially in the third quarter, an eight-minute stand in which she, and her teammates, smacked Sultan into the bleachers.

Roberts kicked things off, taking a pass from Prescott, then going all Matrix, sliding between four defenders in the paint for an emphatic bucket.

After that came a jumper in the paint, in which she elevated, hung in the air for about 37 seconds, then spiked the ball through the net with a line-drive shot which melted the face of the Turk closest to her.

Not content to stop there, Roberts pulled off another three-point play the hard way, and doing so with the kind of power move in the paint which caused Sultan’s coach to stagger back, as if he, and not his players, had just been gut-punched.

With their fleet-footed supernova running wild, the Wolves ramped up their defense, then took turns raining down buckets from all angles.

Ema Smith let another three-ball splat, Scout Smith nailed a pull-up three-ball of her own, then Davidson pulled off her own power bucket in the paint, before Avalon Renninger got fancy.

Weaving with the ball, the junior guard snapped her defender’s ankles off, then pulled up on a dime and rimmed home a left-handed runner which sent the Wolf bench into a rolling wave of joy and hysteria.

Capping the quarter, freshman Ja’Kenya Hoskins sprinted up court, reversed direction, then shot into the air, and, out-leaping a Turk, picked off a long pass, preventing Sultan from getting a final shot off.

With all the buckets raining down, to the tune of a 22-11 Wolf run in the third, Hoskins play could have easily gotten lost in the noise.

But it shouldn’t, as it was the final, thrilling nail puncturing the Sultan balloon, and letting all the air spill out across the floor.

The Turks, to their credit, pulled things back together, and thanks to some seriously erratic reffing in the fourth, managed to get to the line a fair amount.

Not enough of their freebies slid through the net, though, and down the stretch, Coupeville kept things safe with some nicely-crafted buckets.

On one, Roberts drove the baseline, came out on the other side, then hopped into the air and fed Scout Smith, who drained the jumper as dad Chris screamed like a banshee.

On another, Davidson, playing as aggressive and confident in the paint as she has at any time in her Wolf career, backed down her defender and banked home a gorgeous turn-around shot.

And yes, dad Micheal was screaming like a banshee, as well.

The playoff win was a showcase in balance, with seven of 10 active players scoring, led by Roberts with 16 and Ema Smith with 10.

Both players made inroads on snagging personal achievements, as well.

Roberts, who sits with 448 points, passed Maureen Wetmore (438) and is tied with Vanessa Davis for #18 on the Wolf girls career scoring chart.

Wrapping up her second varsity season, Ema Smith made the jump into the top 50, moving past Lisa Roehl (216) and Beth Mouw (216), and into a tie at #49 with Annette Jameson (223).

The young guns also chipped in, with Scout Smith knocking down eight points, Prescott reaching 100 on the season with six, Davidson rattling home four, and Renninger notching two.

Freshman Izzy Wells rounded out the scoring attack, scoring the game’s final bucket on a nicely-executed bank shot.

Roberts paced the Wolves on the boards with seven, while Scout Smith collected five rebounds, two steals and two assists while running the point almost flawlessly.

Hoskins and Nicole Laxton combined to pull down five rebounds, with defensive hawk Tia Wurzrainer harassing Turk ball-handlers into committing countless mistakes.

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Hannah Davidson and Coupeville kick off the postseason Monday night. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

So, you’re saying we have a chance?

The playoff push begins Monday, as the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad wades into the six-day, double-elimination district tourney.

First up for the Wolves is a road game at Lynden Christian, followed by a contest Wednesday against either King’s or Sultan.

Eight teams (five from the North Sound Conference, three from the Northwest Conference) are in the tourney, with four eventually moving on to bi-districts the next week.

That rumble, which pits District 1 (which includes Coupeville) against District 2, sends four teams to the state tourney, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

For the moment, let’s focus on the here and now.

A breakdown of what you need to know for districts:



Northwest District 1 girls basketball tournament



Feb. 4-9



Multiple locations. Coupeville opens at Lynden Christian and will almost certainly play its second game at King’s (though not necessarily against King’s).

After that would come games at neutral sites (Granite Falls and Mount Vernon).


Admission for individual games:

Adults / Students w/o ASB $7.00.
Students w/ ASB $5.00.
Children / Seniors $5.00.


Team capsules:



Season record: 8-9

League finish: #3 in 1A North Sound Conference

Seniors: (3) – Nicole Laxton, Lindsey Roberts, Ema Smith

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 4-6 (beat Sultan and Granite Falls twice; lost to King’s and Cedar Park Christian twice; lost to Meridian and Nooksack Valley)

Coach: David King

Mascot: Wolves


Cedar Park Christian:

Season record: 12-6

League finish: #2 in NSC

Seniors: (1) – Sela Flynn

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 6-2 (beat Sultan, Granite Falls and Coupeville twice; lost to King’s twice)

Coach: Brittani O’Malley

Mascot: Eagles


Granite Falls:

Season record: 5-14

League finish: #4 in NSC

Seniors: (5) – Alex Chavez, Sadie Hutchinson, Jasmin Myers, Hailey Nelson, Hannah White

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 1-8 (split with Granite Falls; lost twice to Coupeville, King’s, Cedar Park; lost to Nooksack Valley)

Coach: Dave Kaupp

Mascot: Tigers



Season record: 16-4

League finish: #1 in NSC

Seniors: (2) – Dominique Kirton, Rachel Phelan

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 8-0 (beat Cedar Park, Sultan, Granite, Coupeville twice)

Coach: Dan Taylor

Mascot: Knights


Lynden Christian:

Season record: 17-3

League finish: #2 among 1A schools in 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference

Seniors: (3) – Josie Bocci, Isabela Hernandez, Grace Sterk

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 1-1 (beat Nooksack Valley; lost to Meridian)

Coach: Brady Bomber

Mascot: Lyncs



Season record: 17-4

League finish: #1 among 1A schools in NWC

Seniors: (5) – Alexis Groen, Makenna Holz, Abigail Martin, Lindsey Moore, Ella Zander 

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 2-1 (beat Coupeville, Lynden Christian; lost to Nooksack Valley)

Coach: Mark Gilmore

Mascot: Trojans


Nooksack Valley:

Season record: 13-7

League finish: #3 among 1A teams in NWC

Seniors: (1) – Jenna Tenkley

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 4-1 (beat Granite Falls, Coupeville, Meridian, Sultan; lost to Lynden Christian)

Coach: Shane Wichers

Mascot: Pioneers



Season record: 7-13

League finish: #5 in NSC

Seniors: (4) – Ashley Evans, Nina Frame, Kiana Kendall, Tori Mayer

Record vs. district tourney qualifiers: 1-8 (split with Granite Falls; lost twice to Coupeville, King’s, Cedar Park Christian; lost to Nooksack Valley)

Coach: Todd Weideman

Mascot: Turks




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Emma Smith threw down big hits from every angle Saturday as Coupeville volleyball pulled off a stunning come-from-behind win at the district tourney. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jennifer Menges was vibrating in place.

Rocking back and forth on the hard wooden bleachers in the cramped Lynden Christian Middle School gym Saturday, her legs bouncing as she bit her bottom lip, arms tensing and un-tensing, she had just about reached her limit.

“I can’t freakin’ take this!!!!” she half-whispered.

Then, a moment later, as her daughter Ashley and her Coupeville High School volleyball teammates celebrated an improbable, incredible miracle win to keep their season alive, Jennifer’s smile exploded.

“Who am I kidding? I LOVE THIS!!!!!!” she giggled as Wolf moms pummeled each other, hugging away the stress and embracing the joy.

Down on the court, their daughters, having been two points from elimination only to rally like stone-cold killers, did the same.

Having pulled off a five-set revenge win against league rival Cedar Park Christian, the Wolves earned a split on day one of the two-day district tourney, and guaranteed themselves at least one more postseason match.

Coupeville, 11-4 after a four-set loss to Meridian, followed by their wild ride to victory against CPC, plays Nooksack Valley (7-9) in a 5 PM loser-out game Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Lynden.

Win, and the Wolves clinch a trip to bi-districts Nov. 3, while first returning to the court at 6:30 Tuesday to face the winner of South Whidbey (10-7) and Meridian (5-12) in a match to decide the #3 and #4 seeds from District 1.

Lynden Christian (14-2) and King’s (15-1), who have already clinched bi-district slots after winning both of their matches Saturday, play for the district title and the #1 and #2 seeds.


Tough loss to Meridian:

The Trojans entered the tourney with a losing record, but that’s based more on a small school playing in a cutthroat 1A/2A/3A league, than on their talent level.

Taking advantage of Coupeville errors, Meridian rolled to a 25-16, 23-25, 25-18, 25-23 win, putting the Wolves on the cusp of elimination.

For a brief second CHS looked locked in, jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead in the opening set thanks to two strong serves from Scout Smith and a hammered spike off the pain-inducing fingers of big hitter Emma Smith.

Then things lurched the other way, and didn’t get corrected for quite a bit.

Once the Trojans snatched their first lead, they relentlessly pecked away, getting two or three points to every one Coupeville put on the board.

Though, even then, the Wolves were often fighting two foes, as the scoreboard operator, who apparently couldn’t fathom that CHS was playing as the home team in both matches, spent much of the day awarding points to the wrong team.

With a strong Coupeville cheering section having made the trip to the hinterlands, the hootin’ and hollerin’ hit appropriately rowdy levels as the validity of the scoreboard was frequently, and loudly, called into question.

At one point, the head judge, up on her perch at the net, whipped around, cast a frosty look at the Cow Town brigade and snapped, “The score is correct!”

It was, once again, not.

While not being willing to offer an apology upon realizing she was wrong, the judge did refrain from speaking to, or even looking at, Wolf fans the rest of the match.

She did hunch her shoulders every time cries about the scoreboard came up after that, though, so we had that going for us, which was nice.

Even when the points were awarded correctly, however, the Wolf spikers couldn’t string enough of them together in a row to blunt Meridian’s charge.

Hannah Davidson, Chelsea Prescott, Scout Smith, Ashley Menges and Emma Smith all figured in blocks at the net, while Davidson nailed a gorgeous running tip for a winner, but it was too little to stem the tide.

Things changed for the better in the second set, but it took a moment.

Down 4-0 in the blink of an eye, CHS got on the scoreboard (well, not at first…) when Emma Smith floated through the air like a butterfly, then stung like a bee, dropping a dagger into an empty hole in the defense.

A tip winner from Maya Toomey-Stout forced the first of nine ties in the second frame, with the stalemates running from 6-6 to as late as 23-23.

Coupeville actually trailed as late as 20-18, before a mammoth spike from Emma Smith tore a gaping hole in Meridian’s willpower and kicked off a set-closing 7-3 run for the Wolves.

The senior captain launched missiles from all directions while playing in front of a large group of family, before Davidson punctuated things with a rolling spike to seal the set win.

With the match knotted at a set apiece, the Wolves grabbed the early lead in the third frame, but couldn’t hold on to it.

Prescott ripped off a Trojan arm with a slice ‘n dice spike, Menges went all “Smashley” on her foes and CHS pulled off an amazing save on a ball stuck in the net, but it wan’t quite enough. Once Meridian snatched the lead at 11-10, it closed the set convincingly.

The fourth set was a killer, in more ways than one.

After trailing almost the entire way, from 1-0 all the way to 19-12, Coupeville dug deep and found some magic.

With Prescott rifling serves and Emma Smith bashing the snot out of the ball, the Wolves went on an unexpected 7-0 tear to force a tie at 19 apiece.

Then CHS promptly fell back apart, giving up a 5-1 run to stake Meridian to a 24-20 lead.

And yet, the Wolves, in full Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mode, almost pulled off another stunner, holding off three match points, thanks to a Toomey-Stout tip and back-to-back blazing serves o’ death by Menges.

In a match suddenly popping with fury and fire, the final point was less than anticlimactic, as the head judge, perhaps still frosty, dinged Coupeville on a questionable carry call.


Wild win against Cedar Park:

During the rest period between matches, the Wolves looked tired, hot, disappointed and melancholy, but not — and this is the biggie — defeated.

Facing a foe with which they had split two regular-season matches, Coupeville saved its best for last, somehow pulling out a 25-27, 25-13, 21-25, 25-23, 15-8 victory to inject new life into its season.

The stretch of play which will live large in memory came when the Wolves were at their lowest.

Trailing two sets to one, and down 23-18 in the fourth after a 6-1 Cedar Park run had erased a 17-17 tie and sent the two Eagles fans in attendance into hysterics, Coupeville needed a miracle.

Enter the duo of Davidson and Scout Smith.

Rising as one, even if the former is more than a few inches taller than the latter, the two Wolves caught a would-be CPC winner and rejected it right back in the face of the hitter.

That set off a set-closing 7-0 run, with Davidson scoring the final six points with precision serves and some ball-crunching help from Prescott, flying through the air and playing out of her mind.

With each Wolf point, the impossible became a bit more probable, the already vocal Coupeville fans made the small gym rock, and the Eagle spikers visibly pulled back within themselves.

Suddenly, Cedar Park wasn’t playing to win, but merely to survive, and the Wolves pounced on their prey, tearing them apart in huge, snapping bites.

Once it had the fourth set in hand, CHS used its superior power to brutalize the Eagles in the fifth frame.

Emma Smith lashed a winner, Prescott smoked a put-away, and Toomey-Stout ascended to a new dimension of sight and sound, in which each of her winners erupted in full technicolor and surround sound.

The moment when you knew the match was over, truly over, came not on the final point. Instead it came earlier, when Toomey-Stout bashed a ball off a rival player’s surprised face.

The Eagle staggered a few steps and remained on her feet, but her heart and soul departed her body at that precise moment, perhaps never to return.

Coupeville’s comeback, and the big bang unleashed by “The Gazelle,” capped a rubber match in which both teams came hard on every play, and unsung warriors like libero Emma Mathusek stood tall.

Or actually, dove, as Mathusek dug ball after ball off the wood floor, keeping alive rallies in which the teams were separated by just a small error here, a smaller miscue there.

The opening set featured 11 ties, with the first one not coming until 10-10, as the Wolves had to scrape to get back in the match.

Surprisingly, even though it felt like it, a check of the stats shows Coupeville never actually led in the opening frame. And, while it fought off two set points, there was no such luck when facing a third one.

The second set was a complete reversal, with Scout Smith compiling two strong runs at the service stripe, while Emma Smith smashed everything within a one-mile radius of her rapidly-descending fist.

Bolting out to a 6-1 lead, the Wolves stretched it out to 23-11 and cruised in with the win to knot the match at a set apiece.

Cedar Park snatched back the momentum, however, leading almost start to finish in the third set, despite stellar play at the net from Davidson.

All of which set up the fourth-set miracle, as Coupeville, behind big kills from Emma Smith, Prescott and Toomey-Stout and a sweet mini hook shot by Scout Smith, refused to give up.

With cameos from swing players Zoe Trujillo and Lucy Sandahl, who popped in to pound a few serves, and vocal bench support from Willow Vick, Maddie Vondrak and Raven Vick, the Wolves lived and died as a tightly-knit unit.

One team, one dream.

That they ultimately lived, thrived and get to play on, is just the cherry on top of the sundae.


The district bracket:


The bi-district bracket:


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   Ulrik Wells relaxes with a post-game beverage after playing Monday night. (Katy Wells photo)

Not all losses are the same.

While Coupeville’s Babe Ruth baseball squad was roughed up 13-3 Monday by Sedro-Woolley, it won’t change one important fact.

The Wolves are still state tourney bound.

Coupeville and S-W are playing a best-of-three clash in Burlington (game #2 is Tuesday, game #3 Wednesday if necessary) to decide seeding coming out of District 11, but both teams advance.

Going forward, though, the Wolves would like to trim down the mistakes, as they were stung by giving up seven walks and committing five errors Monday night.

Sedro seized the opportunity, scoring six runs across the first two innings, despite getting to Coupeville’s pitching staff for just a single hit.

The Wolves scratched out their runs in the third, using three walks (eked out by Daniel Olson, George Dailey and Cody Roberts) and base-knocks from Gavin Knoblich, Caleb Meyer and Ulrik Wells.

Dailey paced Coupeville with a pair of singles, while Wells, Knoblich, Meyer and Scott Hilborn each added a hit.

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Lauren Rose

   Lauren Rose and the Wolves host, and play in, the district tourney Saturday. (John Fisken photos)


“Our gym, our time!”

Welcome to volleyball’s version of Thunderdome.

Four teams enter, two emerge happy.

The stakes are high Saturday, as Coupeville High School hosts, and plays in, the 1A West Central District tourney.

Win two matches, while not losing more than one, and the Wolves are off to state for the first time since 2004.

Here’s some basic info as we sit a day away from the madness.

What: district volleyball playoffs.

When: Saturday, Nov. 5

Where: Coupeville High School and Middle School gyms.

There are two matches at 1:30 (one in each gym, which are part of the same complex, separated by a hallway), two more at 3:30 and one at 5:30 in the big gym.

CHS opens in the HS gym against Charles Wright Academy, while Cascade Christian and Klahowya play in the MS gym.

The two winners clash in the HS gym at 3:30, with the district title and a berth to state at stake.

Meanwhile, match #1 losers move to the MS gym for a loser-out battle.

The survivor of that bout returns to the HS gym at 5:30 to play the loser of the title tilt for the second, and final, berth to state.

Admission (good for all day):

$8 Adults/Non-ASB
$5 Students with ASB
$5 Sr. Citizens (62+)
$4 Elementary


Team capsules:



Season record: 11-4

Vs. district foes: 2-1

Sets W/L: 36-18

Coach: Cory Whitmore

Mascot: Wolves

MaxPreps ranking: #25 in 1A


Cascade Christian:

Season record: 12-1

Vs. district foes: 2-1

Sets W/L: 37-10

Coach: Matt Cruzan

Mascot: Cougars

MaxPreps ranking: #9 in 1A


Charles Wright Academy:

Season record: 13-4

Vs. district foes: 1-1

Sets W/L: 44-18

Coach: Mindy McGrath

Mascot: Tarriers

MaxPreps ranking: #8 in 1A



Season record: 8-7

Vs. district foes: 1-3

Sets W/L: 28-27

Coach: Kim Renken

Mascot: Eagles

MaxPreps ranking: #38 in 1A


To see the bracket, pop over to:


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