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Coupeville freshman Izzy Wells was a beast in her high school softball debut Tuesday, sparking an incredible come-back win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No one saw this coming. No one.

And if you say you did, you’re a cock-a-doodie liar.

I mean, let’s be honest here, there was a time Tuesday afternoon when I already had this Coupeville High School softball story mostly written in my head, and it was going to be a lot different than what you’re about to read.

It was going to be about a rebuilding team coming out on Opening Day, facing a rival with a big win already to its credit, and having the kind of struggles you often have in that kind of situation.

We would have reached down, plucked out the tale of Ms. Unflappable, freshman hurler Izzy Wells, and focused on that primarily, as a way to ease the rawness of a lopsided loss.

Maybe we would have talked about some truly, jaw-droppingly awful calls by the umpiring crew, but, ultimately, we would have looked for some kind of silver lining.

And then the world turned upside down.

Three outs away from being ten-runned, three outs away from absorbing a dispiriting loss, the Wolves, to a player, stood up and pulled off a stunning reversal of fortune like maybe none I’ve ever seen in 29 years of on-and-off sports writing.

You can look at the box score, see Coupeville beat Friday Harbor 18-17 — yes, that was really the score — and have no freakin’ clue of how wild, weird, wacky and, ultimately, wonderful, this one was.

So, let me try and give you some kind of clue, even as my own brain keeps doing dizzy laps around the inside of my noggin, screaming like a 10-year-old jacked out of his mind on Mountain Dew and Pop Rocks.

I mean, we’re talking about a game in which Coupeville trailed 9-0, 12-2, and, finally, 16-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.

A game in which the Wolves didn’t get a hit until the fourth inning.

A game in which CHS led once, and only once, on the final swing of the game, as senior catcher Sarah Wright delivered the latest in a four-year run of crafting epic prairie moments.

A game in which the biggest performance, without question, came from a freshman making her high school softball debut, but also a game in which all 12 Wolf hitters got on base, often at crucial times.

Racing the setting sun, Coupeville’s diamond women did the impossible, brought a standing-room-only crowd to delirium, and sent a shell-shocked Friday Harbor squad off on a very long, and probably very tear-stained, bus and ferry trip home.

The visiting Wolverines had opened their season by clubbing always-scary Lynden Christian, and they came out bats smoking against CHS hurlers Scout Smith and Chelsea Prescott.

Coupeville is in transition, with Katrina McGranahan, its pitching ace the past four years, now sitting in the front row of the bleachers, offering quiet, sage advice to the group following in her large footsteps.

Smith and Prescott didn’t pitch all that badly over the first two innings-plus, with Smith whiffing three and Prescott setting Friday Harbor hitters back on their heels.

But, the Wolverines benefited from some dubious calls, which prompted one fan to inquire if the ump had gotten two glass eyes installed at their last visit to the eye doctor.

One play in particular, on which Wright came up firing and nailed a runner leaning off first, was textbook fraud.

The throw to teammate Veronica Crownover was so on the money, the tag so flawlessly applied, every person this side of Texas could see the runner was out.

Including the runner herself, and the Friday Harbor coach at first-base.

But, in the first of 27 times Coupeville coach Kevin McGranahan was gutted in one afternoon, both umps publicly admitted they couldn’t see the play, while calling the runner safe.

Howlers like that set the table, but give the visitors credit for using their lumber to deliver bone-crunching hits, as Friday Harbor surged out to a 12-2 lead midway through the third inning.

A two-run home-run to deep left field was seemingly the bow on the present the Wolverines were crafting for their coaching staff, but then Wells came stomping into the game to play a very-popular Grinch.

A star in little league, who has gone on to have successful high school volleyball and basketball seasons, the middle child belonging to Lyle and Katy Wells looked a hair nervous as she took the ball from Kevin McGranahan.

With a runner at second, nobody out, and a 10-run deficit, few were expecting the moment to be much more than a chance to give the youngster a taste of high school varsity ball.

Wright, once a raw, but talented 14-year-old herself, is now a seasoned old pro, albeit one who still delights in loudly leading every sing-along chant from the bench.

As their coach departed, she leaned in, whispered something to Wells, then grinned, the kind of smile which covers the prairie, whacked her mitt lightly against her young teammate’s arm and headed back to the plate, showering her newest battery mate with a wave of confidence.

Two pitches later, the transformation was complete.

Wells body language noticeably changed, her back went straighter, her pitches started to hum, and, whether they knew it or not, the Wolves were on the comeback trail.

She whiffed the second batter she faced, escaped the inning, struck out the side in the fourth, and chucked five impressive innings of relief.

Bolstered by their fab frosh, the Wolves, after racking up nine walks, finally broke through with their bats.

When it came, it came all at once, with three straight base-knocks — Chelsea Prescott smoking a two-run triple to left, Wright mashing an RBI triple, then Mollie Bailey crunching an RBI single to center.

Back within 12-6, there was hope … and then it was seemingly gone.

A couple of soft hits which found teeny-tiny holes in the defense helped Friday Harbor inch back out to a 16-6 lead, and things looked bleak once more as the bottom of the sixth approached.

Of ye of little faith.

Three straight walks to open the sixth juiced the bags, a passed ball brought one home, then Wright cranked a two-run single and scampered home when a throw to second skipped wildly away from the shortstop.

Crownover eked out a walk, Wells stroked a single to left, and it was time for the other freshman to get dramatic.

Having made her varsity debut a mere half hour before, Audrianna Shaw was a wild card, and Friday Harbor never saw her coming.

Leaning into a pitch, she went Incredible Hulk on the ball, mashing a frozen rope to center, where it smacked the top of the madly running fielder’s glove and skipped away.

With the lead cut to 16-12, Coupeville went for the KO, only to see their foes dodge the punch when Prescott’s long shot to left with the bags full was run down.

It mattered not, however, as the improbable had become the possible.

Even though Friday Harbor scraped out a run in the seventh to go up 17-12, the air felt different.

Some would say it was just the already-cold weather being affected by the sun sinking over the horizon. Others are more poetic.

Coupeville sent 10 hitters to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, and the final nine reached base.

The big blow was a rocket launched into left by Crownover, a booming double which tore the cover off the screaming, pleading ball and plated a runner.

Equally important were four consecutive bases-loaded walks, with Shaw, Smith, Emma Mathusek, and Prescott bringing teammates home while displaying eagle eyes at the plate.

That set up Wright, the four-year starter, the four-year hitting sensation, she of the voice run raspy after three-plus hours of screamin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’ and singin’ and laughin’ her head off.

The slump of the pitcher’s shoulders told the tale, almost as much as the way Wright rolled to the plate, lofting her bat onto her shoulder and licking her lips in anticipation.

Friday Harbor’s hurler whipped a good pitch — the best she had thrown all inning — but, with one final laugh, Wright crushed her hopes and dreams, whipping a walk-off hit back up the middle.

Scout Smith came flying home, giving dad Chris, whose CHS baseball team had to postpone its game due to illness, a chance to pump his fists in the air and go home happy.

All across the prairie, bedlam rained.

Bad calls were forgotten, early struggles placed to the side, and, while it’s just one win, in the first game of a 20-game regular-season schedule, its impact could be monumental.

“Just a great game, by a group of girls who never gave in!,” Kevin McGranahan said. “Give Izzy a lot of credit, for coming in and holding them down. Really good first game for her, and Audri, too.”

Coupeville finished with eight hits and 20 walks, with Smith and Mathusek eking out five free passes apiece.

Senior sluggers Wright (1B, 3B) and Crownover (2B, 2B) led the hit attack, with Prescott (3B), Shaw (3B), Wells (1B), and Bailey (1B) also connecting on base-knocks.

Coral Caveness collected two walks, while Chloe Wheeler, Nicole Laxton, and Mackenzie Davis all walked as well, as every Wolf in uniform reached base.

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Abby Mulholland tossed in four points Wednesday during a thriller of a JV game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Thriller, part deux.

Playing in the moments after the varsity team escaped with a two-point win Wednesday, the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad decided to up the ante.

The first game ended when the Wolves chased down and corralled a final rebound to seal their victory. So, in the second clash, things got pushed to a final, buzzer-beating shot.

Which, unfortunately for Coupeville, refused to drop.

CHS had the look it wanted, and the shooter it wanted, but the rim proved unforgiving and this time it was Friday Harbor escaping with a 29-27 victory.

“The girls executed the play as drawn, the ball comes in and gets to Kiara (Contreras), who had a defender on her,” said Coupeville coach Amy King. “Perfect pass to Izzy (Wells), who has a perfect-looking shot, hit the rim and just bounced off.

“It was an exciting game,” she added. “Varsity was behind the JV bench chanting “defense” in the loudest volume possible.

“Improvements are happening with every practice and every game, and as long as we continue to work on the little things, we will be just fine.”

The scrappy Wolf young guns, now 0-3 on the young season, opened play minus starting post player Kylie Chernikoff. A ferocious rebounder and defender, she injured her leg earlier in the day.

That left King scrambling to adjust the starting lineup, but the Wolves quickly adapted.

Down 7-6 after one quarter, Coupeville got a couple buckets from Abby Mulholland and a three-ball off the fingertips of Mollie Bailey in the second quarter and flipped the switch.

Tack on a rebound put-back from Ja’Kenya Hoskins, who “was a monster under the basket, making sure the other teams couldn’t just get easy passes or shots,” and the Wolves went to the break up 15-11.

Then things went all higgedly-piggedly for a bit.

“The second half we came out very slow and were forced to call a timeout to bring out the energy,” King said. “Anya (Leavell) and Mollie came out of that timeout and forced good things to happen with some steals and fast breaks.”

Leavell stayed hot in the fourth quarter, raining down seven points in the frame, including a three-ball, and the Wolves battled to the wire, with “both teams trying to get the ball down the court, pressing the ball, causing turnovers.”

While Friday Harbor came out on the positive side of the final score, King came away pleased with a lot of what she saw from her freshman-heavy squad.

Izzy was a steady player the entire game, snagging rebounds, helping with the ball, taking shots and just playing a well-rounded game,” she said.

Kiara, Anya and Mollie took care of defending the top half of the key, with help through the game from Abby, Kylie (Van Velkinburgh), Alana (Mihill) and Lily (Leedy).”

Coupeville’s scoring attack was led by Leavell, who toasted the net for a game-high 11 points, while Mulholland (4), Wells (4), Bailey (3), Van Velkinburgh (2), Hoskins (2), and Contreras (1) also got their name in the book.

Wells hauled down 13 rebounds, Hoskins snatched 12 boards, Leavell and Bailey each notched five steals and Contreras doled out a pair of assists.

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Tucker Hall netted five points Wednesday as the Coupeville JV waged war with visiting Friday Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They still have the best record in town.

Even after running into a very talented Friday Harbor squad Wednesday, resulting in a 65-38 loss, the Coupeville High School JV boys basketball team boasts the best win/loss record of the five Wolf hoops teams.

Sitting at 2-2 after the defeat, the young guns are already on the move, mentally preparing for a Saturday road trip to Orcas Island.

Facing off with Friday Harbor, the Wolves had speed and shooting, but couldn’t match the height advantage of the visitors.

Most of Coupeville’s scoring came from its back-court aces, as sophomores Daniel Olson and Sage Downes paced the attack with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Grady Rickner swished six, Tucker Hall dropped five, Logan Martin rumbled for four, and TJ Rickner knocked down a pair of free throws to round out the scoring.

Cody Roberts, Chris Ruck and Miles Davidson also saw floor time for the Wolves, who were missing Alex Jimenez and Xavier Murdy.

Downes hit a pair of three-balls, while Hall and Grady Rickner added treys of their own.

That trio combined to score all of Coupeville’s points in its best frame of the night, a 14-point second quarter in which Hall and Downes each rattled home five points and Rickner added four.

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Jered Brown knocked down a season-high 11 points Wednesday to lead Coupeville’s scoring attack against Friday Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“The coaching staff is really, really proud of these guys.”

Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball coach Brad Sherman is still looking for his first win of the new season, but, four games in, he can’t, and won’t, fault his players for their heart.

“I’m really proud of the hustle and effort we are showing every game,” he said. “We’re starting to find our shooting rhythm, as well, which is nice to see.”

While a quick glance at the scoreboard after Wednesday’s 60-40 non-conference loss to visiting Friday Harbor might indicate a one-sided game, it was anything but.

Coupeville, now 0-4 on the season, used a hail of three-point bombs to hang with a team which had a huge height advantage, but one bad stretch ultimately doomed them.

The Wolves had fought back from a 10-point first-quarter deficit to knot the game at 18-18, and only trailed by a bucket after Gavin Knoblich slapped home a rebound put-back with a minute to play in the first half.

Down just 24-22 and having at least momentarily muted the inside play of Friday Harbor’s 6-foot-8 and 6’6 post players, CHS was on the move.

And then the rim swore a vendetta against the Wolves, and not a shot would drop for an agonizingly long time.

Friday Harbor took advantage, slipping a pair of free throws through the net, turning a steal into a two-handed jam, and then, worse of all, hitting a desperation three-ball right before the halftime buzzer.

Sean Toomey-Stout gave Coupeville a small sliver of hope when he alertly stripped the ball as Friday Harbor attempted a second dunk on the final play of the half, but the 7-0 surge was a killer, emotionally, mentally and on the scoreboard.

The break didn’t ease the shooting curse, as the Wolves continued to have shots pop out, roll away and take weird bounces through much of the third quarter.

By the time CHS junior Jered Brown hit a one-hander in the paint, after a feed from Jacobi Pilgrim, Friday Harbor had run off 16 straight points and turned a one-basket game into a semi-romp.

Brown banged home a step-back three-ball a moment later, and the Wolves played the visitors almost dead even in the fourth, but the damage in the middle of the game was too much to overcome.

Once the lead ballooned out, Coupeville wasn’t able to get closer than 17 down the stretch.

A big part of that was Friday Harbor’s dominance on the boards, as tree toppers Marshall Clark (29 points) and Kyle Mapstead (14) used their long arms to snatch away many of the caroms and convert them into put-backs from close range.

The Wolves didn’t go down easily, with Ulrik Wells, at 6’4 Coupeville’s only true big man, snatching his fair share of boards.

Meanwhile, the 5’10 (and super springy) Toomey-Stout rejected a couple of shots that caught the Friday Harbor players (and their fans) by surprise.

Coupeville’s best run in the game came when the game was still fairly young.

Down 18-8, with Brown and Mason Grove having hit three-balls, the Wolves dropped three consecutive treys to start a crowd-pleasing comeback.

Freshman Hawthorne Wolfe, whose first bucket of the night came on a play in which he twisted himself into a pretzel in mid-air to get around a defender, nailed the first three-ball.

After that, Grove stepped up, launching a three-point special to end the first quarter, then another to open the second.

A Toomey-Stout free throw capped Coupeville’s 10-0 run and seemed to signal nothing but good times ahead, but the offense is still a work in progress for a young, transitioning Wolf squad.

“We’re improving each game; it’s just little things we need to fix,” Sherman said. “We need to take a little better control of the ball, be a little more patient.

“Our bigs (Wells, Dane Lucero, Pilgrim, Knoblich, Koa Davison) played really tough tonight, which was a big task against a big front line like that,” he added. “They all played pretty dang hard.”

Brown and Grove each netted their season-best scoring performance, with 11 and nine points, respectively, while Wolfe, the team’s leading scorer, added eight.

Wells (4), Toomey-Stout (4), Davison (2) and Knoblich (2) rounded out the scoring attack, with Davison’s bucket, off an offensive rebound, settling through the net with 0:00.1 to play.

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Coupeville captains (l to r) Ema Smith, Scout Smith and Lindsey Roberts all came up huge Wednesday as the Wolves won a thriller against Friday Harbor. (Photo by Johnsphotos.net)

Offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.

Luckily for the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team, it was clicking on both sides of the ball Wednesday night.

Powered by a season-high 16 points from Lindsey Roberts, the Wolves exploded on visiting Friday Harbor, then turned to a withering defense (and some pressure-packed free throws from Ema Smith) to nail down a 34-32 win.

The non-conference victory, which came down to the game’s final play, lifts Coupeville to 1-3 on the season.

As exciting as the ending was for the fans, it was heart-stopping for both coaches, as the last 58 seconds were a jumble of nerves, miracle shots, and gut-check plays.

Up 32-27 after Roberts slipped a pair of free throws through the net with just a bit over a minute left on the clock, the Wolves looked in control.

Then Friday Harbor got dramatic.

A pull-up jumper cut the margin to three, before the visitors forced a turnover in the back court on the ensuing in-bounds play.

Taking things from bad to worse for Coupeville, Friday Harbor slid a dagger between the rib cages, knocking down a three-ball from the right side that needed a prayer to hit pay dirt, and got that prayer answered.

With the game knotted at 32 — the first tie since early in the first quarter — it might have been easy for the Wolves to fold. To put up a good fight, fall just short, and accept a moral victory.

To which Coupeville, to a player, said “screw that.”

Ema Smith, who was born with ice water running through her veins, absorbed a foul with 38.6 seconds to go, calmly loped to the line, stared down each Friday Harbor player one after another, then drilled both free throws.

The net barely moved on either shot, the partisan CHS crowd exploded, but Ema Smith didn’t smile. Not yet.

Instead, she and her teammates slapped hands, hunkered down and made not one, but three defensive stands, as the clock spun madly towards 0:00 and the score remained locked at 34-32.

Roberts yanked down a long rebound on the next shot, only to lose her footing and have the ball skid out of bounds.

No problem, as Hannah Davidson, lunging forward/being bulldozed from behind by a Friday Harbor player, pulled in the next rebound.

The fact she ended up on the floor after being pasted sent the Wolf junior to the line with 6.9 ticks left, but the rim turned unforgiving, spitting out both of her charity shots.

Again, no problem, as Ema Smith tipped the rebound to Roberts and … lost in the moment, the Wolves put up a shot instead of holding on to the ball, letting the clock run and getting fouled.

Ball hit rim and kicked way, way out, possibly causing Coupeville coach David King to have an aneurysm as he watched what could have been a game-tying layup at the buzzer by Friday Harbor develop in slow motion.

Except, Lindsey Roberts is fast, and by fast, I mean, faster than anyone in a Friday Harbor uniform could ever hope to be in their entire lifetime.

Roaring past two rivals in a single bound, she flung out her long arms, fingertips made contact with leather as the buzzer roared, and then she was hugging the basketball to her chest like she had saved a baby from a burning building.

Then, and then only, Ema Smith smiled, pummeling her fellow senior captain with glee.

As their teammates crowded around, keeping the celebration going, King sank into his chair, let out his breath with a great whoosh, and smiled, too.

A game that ended with a defensive stand for the ages began as an offensive slug-fest.

Roberts came out firing on all cylinders, dropping eight points in the first quarter.

Toss in a bucket from Nicole Laxton, who scooped up a loose ball and nimbly twirled and banked the ball home, and Coupeville had one of its better offensive frames of the season.

Only problem is, Friday Harbor had an answer for every bucket, then tossed in two more just because, and led 14-10 at the first break.

While the Wolves were trailing, they didn’t look or play as if they were down, though, and promptly took control of the game in the second quarter.

Roberts splatted a three-ball from the left side to cut the lead back to one, then after Friday Harbor’s only bucket of the quarter, Coupeville went to work.

Scout Smith drained a long jumper off of an offensive rebound, then Avalon Renninger pump-faked her defender into the parking lot, spun past her and sank a gorgeous little runner.

That shot proved to be huge, as the Wolves would never trail after Renninger crafted her own personal highlight reel.

Three free throws (two from Chelsea Prescott and one from Scout Smith) sent CHS into the locker room up 20-16, then two jumpers from Scout Smith to kick off the third pushed Coupeville’s lead to eight.

Friday Harbor refused to break, running off six straight points to pull back within 24-22, before Roberts ended the third with a free throw and then a long, crisp outlet pass that perfectly led Prescott to a breakaway layup.

All of which set up the frantic fourth.

King praised his team’s effort from top to bottom, while singling out two players for being a catalyst.

“This was Scout’s best game on the young season. She took care of the ball and defensively stepped up with guarding their #12 post player,” King said. “She did a great job sticking with her and not letting her get to the spots she wanted in their offense. She also deflected many passes, very disruptive.

“I’d also like to throw some praise Tia (Wurzrainer’s) way,” he added. “She is still working on being comfortable with handling the ball. Tonight she helped with getting open on their press. Then, after her steals and rebounds, she dribbled out of trouble.”

Roberts filled up the stat sheet, adding nine rebounds, two steals, two assists and three blocks to go with her game-high 16 points.

The scoring outburst carries her five slots higher on the all-time CHS girls basketball career scoring chart, from #35 to #30.

With 332 points and counting, Roberts passes Mia Littlejohn (317), Marie Grasser (321), Taniel Lamb (330), Misty Sellgren (331) and Amanda Allmer (331).

Scout Smith knocked down seven in support of Roberts, while Prescott (4), Renninger (2), Ema Smith (2), Laxton (2) and Davidson (1) also scored.

Ema Smith ripped down eight boards, with Scout Smith adding four rebounds and three steals.

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