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Mason Grove knocked down 21 points Friday as Coupeville won on Senior Night and punched its playoff ticket. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hawthorne Wolfe added 18 points, including four free throws in the final moments to clinch the win.

Playoffs? We’re talking about the playoffs.

Rallying from an eight-point second-half deficit on Senior Night Friday, the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball squad beat visiting Granite Falls 75-72.

With the win, the Wolves, who honored 11 seniors in pre-game ceremonies, improve to 2-6 in North Sound Conference play, 6-11 overall.

They also clinch a postseason berth, and will play their regular-season finale next Tuesday, Feb. 4, to decide if they are the #4 or #5 seed from their league.

Beat Sultan on its home floor, and Coupeville is #4 and opens the double-elimination district playoffs Feb. 10 on the road against Lynden Christian (13-4), the #1 seed from the Northwest Conference.

Lose Tuesday to the Turks, and the Wolves host Mount Baker (5-13), the #4 seed from the NWC, Feb. 8 in a loser-out game.

However the rumble with Sultan plays out, Friday’s win gives the CHS hoops stars a huge boost.

“It was a big win for our seniors on Senior Night, and we responded really well after halftime,” said Coupeville coach Brad Sherman. “I’m really proud of how hard they played to get that W.”

The game was decided under the bright lights of the fourth quarter, a time when the Wolves got points from six different players and refused to crack under pressure.

Holding a 54-51 lead entering the final frame, with that advantage thanks to Mason Grove rifling home a three-ball to end the third quarter, CHS was still on edge.

It had nothing to worry about, however, as one Wolf after another came through in crunch time, turning back a scrappy Tiger squad which knew it would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss.

The teams traded blows, but Coupeville never gave back the lead in the fourth.

The Wolves attacked in waves, with Jacobi Pilgrim muscling his way inside for a key put-back off of an offensive rebound, and Grove sinking a trey which hit the rim, started to go down, popped back up, then flopped back through.

Coupeville hit the boards with great intensity, controlling the paint, and it paid off.

Sophomore sensation Xavier Murdy, who missed a huge chunk of the season recovering from a preseason injury, has been a jolt of lightning since his return, and Friday showcased all the different weapons he has at his disposal.

With the lead in doubt, X-Man came through with two epically big rebound put-backs, then he slid to the side and let some of his senior counterparts pen their part of the winning tale.

Gavin Knoblich, a grinder and a hustler who lives to do the down ‘n dirty work, netted a bucket down low, then put a perfect pass on to the fingertips of fellow big man Koa Davison as he rolled through the paint on his way to the promised land.

But, even with all that, the game wasn’t decided until sophomore Hawthorne Wolfe, who spent the days leading up to this game working relentlessly on his free throw shooting, iced things.

Tuning out the deafening screams of Granite’s JV players, who thought (wrongly) they could buffalo him, Joan McPherson’s grandson calmly, quietly, laid down the law, scoring Coupeville’s final five points from the line.

As each charity shot arced upwards, then splashed downwards, the Tiger faithful choked on their screams, while the Wolf faithful went progressively more bonkers for Wolfe (and his dead-eye shooting).

The final two times he strolled to the line, while being slapped and talked-up by a fired-up Grove, Wolfe sank both of his chances, pushing three-point leads out to five and erasing Granite’s chance to tie the game on a three-ball.

Trailing 75-70 with under 20 seconds to play, the Tigers ran headlong into a ferocious final defensive stand, and meekly surrendered, unable to do anything other than toss in a largely meaningless layup as the clock struck 0.9 seconds to play.

That set off a celebration for a CHS team deep in seniors, and a jam-packed gym which had come out to hail what might have been their final moments on their home hardwood.

Both teams had begun the game with fire in their bellies, and a deep desire to grab an early advantage.

Only problem is, both rims refused to accept any incoming shots for a very long time.

Three minutes and 18 seconds of scoreless ball later, Coupeville broke through on a pair of Grove free throws, then things got goin’.

Ulrik Wells popped for six points in the opening frame, hitting a pair of jumpers off nice feeds from Wolfe and Grove, packaged around a rebound put-back, and CHS went to the first break up 16-14.

After the teams played through five ties in the first frame, they tacked on two more (momentary) stalemates in the second quarter, the last at 26-26.

Grove airmailed a pair of three-balls to keep the Tigers jumpy, but a late mini-run by Granite helped the visitors carry a 40-34 lead to the halftime locker room.

The margin stretched out to eight early in the third quarter, but then Coupeville’s gunners, a Three Musketeers trio made up of young upstarts Murdy and Wolfe, plus grizzled old-timer Grove, went to work.

X coaxed a three-ball through the net to start the comeback, while Hawk ripped off back-to-back treys, the first tying the game at 44-44, the second shoving Coupeville back into the lead.

While there would be one more tie after Wolfe’s second bomb, at 51-51 right before Grove dropped a punctuation mark at the end of the third, CHS never trailed again.

Granite kept coming, kept fighting, but Coupeville had an answer each time, whether it was Wells rejecting a shot into the rafters, or Davison imploring his teammates to keep their intensity sky-high during a timeout.

As his team celebrated with their parents, fellow students, and fans, Sherman was able to gaze at the scorebook and enjoy an especially well-balanced scoring performance.

Grove popped for a game-high 21, while Wolfe rattled the rims for 18, and Murdy banked in 17.

Davison (9), Wells (6), Pilgrim (2), and Knoblich (2) also scored, with Sean Toomey-Stout yanking down endless rebounds, Jered Brown running the point with precision, and Jean Lund-Olsen giving the Wolves a jolt of electricity in the early going while making his first start.

With sophomores Murdy and Wolfe the only non-seniors on the varsity roster, Sherman also honored Chris Cernick, Tucker Hall, and Chris Ruck during opening ceremonies.

While the focus was rightfully on the win and the approaching departure of the seniors, stat fans can also take a moment to note that Coupeville’s leading scorers, Wolfe and Grove, continue to climb the career scoring list.

After entering the night #64 and #68 all-time, respectively, for a program in its 103rd season, they exited the court as #59 and #61.

Separated by just seven points (Wolfe has 389, Grove 382), the duo leapfrogged former CHS greats such as JD Wilcox, Chad Gale, and Mike Millenbach.

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Avalon Renninger hit one bucket Friday, and it was huge. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Just win, baby.

It was the mantra of the Oakland Raiders during their Super Bowl-winning heyday, and it fits for the current Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball squad as well.

The Wolves have been a work in progress this season, but a successful one.

They’ve endured some shooting woes, from the field and the line, but hard work on the boards, a feisty mentality on defense, and some clutch shooting when it matters most, has kept CHS alive and thriving.

Case in point, Friday night, as the Wolves overcame an epic cold spell and found a way to turn on the heat in crunch time, using a fourth-quarter run to crack visiting Granite Falls.

Closing the game on a 14-2 run, with four different players scoring, Coupeville pulled out a come-from-behind 41-32 win and set themselves up nicely for the playoffs.

With the win, the Wolves improve to 5-3 in North Sound Conference play and clinch the league’s #3 postseason seed behind King’s and Cedar Park Christian.

Now 11-5 overall, Coupeville closes the regular season Tuesday at home, with Senior Night on tap, and South Whidbey (3-5, 9-10) the opponent.

The double-elimination district playoffs kick off Feb. 10, and Coupeville will be on the road at the home of the #2 Northwest Conference team.

That should be Nooksack Valley (13-4), a team the Wolves lost to 52-30 right before winter break.

A win sends CHS on to play NSC league champ King’s, while a loss pits them against either the #5 NSC team (Sultan) or the #4 NWC squad (Meridian or Mount Baker).

Either way the second game is Feb. 11.

Win their opener, and the Wolves travel to Shoreline. Lose, and they host game two.

Friday night’s fracas, which pitted the Wolves against a cellar-dweller team, was always going to be tough, regardless of records.

Granite Falls hasn’t won many games this season, but the Tigers are a physical, scrappy squad which doesn’t go down easily.

Coupeville got a taste of that a week-and-a-half back, when it escaped Granite with a one-point win, and Friday’s game, after a great start, quickly went the same way.

In the early going, CHS coach Scott Fox might have been feeling pretty good, as the Wolves roared out to a 14-6 lead before the first quarter was done.

Hannah Davidson drilled the bottom out of the net on a lil’ jumper from the side to kick off the scoring, then almost all of her teammates jumped on the scoring train.

Scout Smith, Maddie Georges, Izzy Wells, and Chelsea Prescott all scored during the opening surge, with Georges pulling off a three-point play the hard way on a full-court drive, layup in traffic, and free throw.

Prescott swished back-to-back jumpers from the side, with the second coming off a very long rebound which found its way right into her hands, and things looked peachy.

And then they didn’t.

Covering a period which stretched from the final minute or so of the first quarter until halfway through the third quarter, Coupeville found new and creative ways to NOT make buckets.

The Wolves had good look after even better look, often thanks to aggressive work on defense, but the rim just wasn’t having it.

Shots popped up, rolled sideways, dribbled out, swirled around and died, and flat out refused to stay down.

CHS could only get two shots to drop through the net in the second quarter — a long jumper from Georges and a slashing layup from Smith off a run up the middle — and the Wolves were in trouble.

But not as much as they could have been.

The aforementioned aggressive defense, keyed by Smith slapping 1,001 balls out of the hands of Tiger guards, kept the Wolves close.

Also helping out was strong work on the glass from Davidson, Izzy Wells, and freshman brawler Carolyn Lhamon, and Coupeville went in to the locker room at the half trailing just 20-18.

Neither team could score for the first half of the third quarter, but for different reasons.

The Wolves still couldn’t get the rim to play nice, while Granite flat out couldn’t get a shot off, as Smith, backed by Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer, drove their ballhandlers batty.

The dry spell finally, mercifully ended some four minutes into the third frame, when Renninger, rolling to her left, lofted up a ball and banked it off the glass, earning a deep sigh of relief from her coach.

That seemed to bust things open, a bit at least.

Wells rolled under her defender for a bucket in the paint, Georges dropped a three-ball from the top of the arc, and Wurzrainer absolutely drilled a pull-up jumper once things started rolling.

But Granite wouldn’t break, converting a breakaway bucket to end the third, then slapping home another layup to open the final frame.

Up 30-27, the Tigers could see the victory.

Then again, they might want to check their vision.

Backs to the wall, the Wolves came through one more time, just as they have done again and again this season, pulling yet another victory out of the jaws of defeat.

Free throws knotted the game at 30-30, before Smith delivered the sucker punch, nailing a jumper just inside the three-point line after Prescott punched a ball free, then chased it down and fed her running mate.

Add another three-ball from Georges, a freshman who shoots like a senior, and a couple of sweet jumpers from wily veterans Prescott and Davidson, and the damage was done.

The furious finale capped a game in which seven Wolves tallied points.

Georges led the way with 11, while Smith (9), Davidson (7), Prescott (6), Wells (4), Renninger (2), and Wurzrainer (2) also filled up the scorebook.

Lhamon, Audrianna Shaw, and Kylie Van Velkinburgh also saw floor time for the Wolves.

The game marked a personal milestone for Davidson, as she became the 100th CHS girl to score 100 points during their prep career.

Her game-opening bucket was the big one, and with 105 points by night’s end, she now sits at #97 all-time for a modern-day Wolf program which began play in 1974.

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Logan Martin scored 14 points during a fourth-quarter rally Friday. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One more minute and they likely win.

Storming back in a hail of shots Friday, the Coupeville High School boys JV basketball team almost erased a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Almost, but not quite.

With Logan Martin banging home 14 of his team-high 20 points in the final frame, the Wolves outscored visiting Granite Falls 22-6, before time ran out in a 51-47 loss.

The defeat evens Coupeville’s mark at 4-4 in North Sound Conference games, while dropping the young guns to 9-7 overall heading into their season finale.

That arrives Tuesday, when the Wolves travel to Sultan.

Friday’s game was full of wild swings, as Coupeville fell behind 21-6 after the first eight minutes.

Things didn’t get much better for Chris Smith’s squad after that, as the deficit stretched out to 38-18 at the half.

A defensive-minded third quarter, in which the two squads scrapped to a hard-earned 7-7 tie, kept things tough on the Wolves, but then their shooting touch returned.

Martin, who has been scorching the nets across the past two weeks, couldn’t be contained, while Grady Rickner (5) and Daniel Olson (3) combined to provide some aid.

While Granite managed to run the clock out on the Wolves, the hometown gunners did get scoring from eight of the 10 players who hit the floor.

Martin’s 20 led the way, while Olson and Grady Rickner each finished with eight.

Alex Jimenez (3), Miles Davidson (2), Sage Downes (2), Cody Roberts (2), and TJ Rickner (2) also scored, with Chris Cernick and Andrew Aparicio providing support on the defensive side of the floor.

Tuesday’s trip to Sultan will give the Wolves a shot at a 10th win, while also allowing a JV scoring champ to be crowned.

It’s a taut battle, as Olson (142), Downes (140), Martin (133), and Grady Rickner (133) are all pouring in points on a consistent basis.

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Morgan Stevens and the Coupeville JV are 10-4 on the season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Take them down early and never let them back in the game.

That was the mindset Friday for the Coupeville High School girls JV basketball squad, as they roared out to a big lead and rolled to a 41-27 win over visiting Granite Falls.

With the victory, the Wolves improve to 6-2 in North Sound Conference action, 10-4 overall, with two games left on the schedule next week.

The JV squad hosts South Whidbey this coming Tuesday and La Conner Thursday.

In that second game, the young guns will have the solo spotlight, as the Wolf varsity has that night off as it preps for the playoffs.

Friday night, CHS jumped out to a 10-6 lead after one quarter of play, with swing players Anya Leavell and Audrianna Shaw each slapping home four points.

After that, the Wolves put the big hurt on the Tigers, riding an eight-point second-quarter explosion from Ella Colwell to shove the lead out to 25-11 by the half.

While the second half was an even fight — literally, as the teams played to 8-8 ties in both the third and fourth quarters — Coupeville coach Megan Smith was able to get floor time for 15 girls, including one making her debut.

Maylin Steele, a first-year player, has been practicing with the team and learning the game, but hadn’t suited up until Friday night.

On the floor for the first time, the Wolves got her the ball and she responded, dropping in a bucket to etch her name into the scorebook.

“It was truly an awesome moment for Maylin and the team!,” Smith said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them all.

“We played one of our best games yet! The girls came out swinging and never let down.”

Colwell finished with a game-high 12 points to lead the Wolf attack, while Leavell and Shaw backed her up, each finishing with six.

Alita Blouin (5), Gwen Gustafson (4), Abby Mulholland (4), Ryanne Knoblich (2) and Steele (2) also scored, with Natalie Castano, Claire Mayne, Jessenia Camarena, Heidi Meyers, Morgan Stevens, Kylie Van Velkinburgh, and Mollie Bailey seeing floor time.

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Freshman Ty Hamilton splashed home a team-high nine points Friday as Coupeville’s C-Team battled with visiting Granite Falls. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Fewer bodies, more improvement.

As the season has gone on, the Coupeville High School boys C-Team basketball squad has taken a hit in roster size, but the players who remain continue to show great growth.

Playing with seven players Friday, Patrick Upchurch’s squad hung tough all night before falling 45-29 to visiting Granite Falls.

The young Wolves drop to 1-7 in North Sound Conference play, 2-10 overall, heading into their season finale this coming Tuesday at Sultan.

Win or lose, the C-Team is a scrappy band of ballhawks, and they showed that once again Friday while making their season debut in the big gym.

Down 6-0 at the start, the Wolves clawed their way back into the game, closing the first quarter on a 6-2 tear.

The surge kicked off with Coen Killian draining a three-ball from the top of the arc, then continued through Ty Hamilton slashing hard to the hoop for a bucket, before Killian came back around to net a free throw.

The second quarter was the one frame where Coupeville’s shooting touch vanished, and it hurt.

With just a pull-up jumper on the move from Dominic Coffman, the Wolves found themselves on the short end of a 9-2 stretch, and never were able to fully recover.

CHS made a stand, however, with both teams pouring it on in the third quarter.

After combining to score 25 points in the first half, Coupeville and Granite united to put 23 more up on the board across the eight-minute frame.

Four different Wolves banked home a bucket in the quarter, with the prettiest coming from freshman Nick Armstrong, who rolled under his defender, then popped up and nailed a jumper which barely rippled the net on its way through.

Coupeville got the lead back down to 10 early in the fourth, courtesy an Alex Wasik layup set up by a bullet pass off of Coffman’s magic fingers, but time eventually ran out on the young Wolves.

Hamilton finished with a team-high nine points, with Coffman (6), Brayden Coatney (4), Wasik (4), Killian (4), and Armstrong (2) also scoring.

Josh Upchurch rounded out the Wolf roster, hitting the boards hard and earning a nod of approval from his coach/father.

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