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After losing Friday, Gavin Knoblich and Co. will have to win Saturday to grab a ticket to the playoffs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The season comes down to 32 minutes of action.

Unable to clinch a playoff berth on the road Friday, the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball squad gets a second chance Saturday at home.

A 60-50 loss at Granite Falls leaves the Wolves tied with the host Tigers at 1-9 in North Sound Conference action.

With identical league records, and having split the season series (CHS won 52-43 in early Jan.), the two teams meet at 5 PM in Coupeville to decide the #5 playoff seed from the NSC.

Winner advances to the double-elimination district tourney and plays Feb. 4 against King’s.

Saturday’s losers exit the court and start thinking about spring sports.

King’s (10-0, 16-4), Cedar Park Christian (7-3, 11-9), South Whidbey (6-4, 13-7), Sultan (5-5, 6-14), and Saturday’s winner join Northwest Conference teams Lynden Christian (20-0), Meridian (9-12), and Nooksack Valley (7-13) at districts.

The #2-#4 NSC seeds were set after King’s savaged South Whidbey 84-15 Friday, and CPC bounced Sultan 66-35.

Coupeville, which is 2-15 overall, enters Saturday’s game having lost seven straight.

Several of those defeats have been close, though, and Friday night’s bout was a prime example.

With Granite Falls having just one court, the Wolves sat through three other games before finally taking the floor for the night’s finale, then hung tough all the way.

Sean Toomey-Stout and Mason Grove combined for 14 first-quarter points, with the former hitting for nine and both dropping in a three-ball, but Granite clung to an 18-16 lead at the first break.

While the Tigers could never completely get away from the Wolves, they did slowly but surely stretch out their advantage.

A 12-8 advantage in the second quarter pushed the lead to six, then a 16-12 surge across the third set the final margin.

Grove did his best to keep Coupeville alive, burying a trio of three-balls in the third frame, while Hawthorne Wolfe and Jacobi Pilgrim picked up five points apiece during a free-throw-heavy fourth quarter.

CHS had an advantage at the line, hitting 13 of 20 charity shots to just 4-7 by Granite, while also winning the three-ball battle 5-2.

Grove finished with a team-high 14 points, with Toomey-Stout rattling the rim for 12 and Pilgrim banking in eight.

Wolfe (7), Gavin Knoblich (5), Ulrik Wells (2), and Jered Brown (2) also scored.

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Kylie Van Velkinburgh had six points and two blocks Friday as the Wolf JV closed its season with a road victory. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

After beating Granite Falls, the young guns finished 9-7, best record of any CHS hoops team this season. (Amy King photo)

Best record in town.

Kicking off a four-games-on-one-court evening Friday at Granite Falls, the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball team got things going with a jolt.

Riding a game-winning three-ball in the final seconds from Mollie Bailey, the Wolves escaped with a 29-27 win, got a sweet bit of revenge, and capped a winning season.

The victory, which was payback for a loss to Granite earlier in the season, allows the JV to close at 5-3 in North Sound Conference play, 9-7 overall.

Despite playing less games than Coupeville’s other squads, thanks to Cedar Park Christian not having a girls JV team, the Wolf young guns have the most wins, and the highest winning percentage, of any CHS hoops team this winter.

The finale was a nice cap to another season under long-time Wolf basketball whisperer Amy King, who got her team going with a small challenge.

“Four games back-to-back (on the same court). I told the JV girls, who had the first game of the night, that their game would set the tone for the rest of the evening.

“And the battle began.”

The two teams went back and forth, exchanging big buckets and ferocious defensive stops all night.

Anya Leavell banked in a three-ball in the opening quarter, one of her two on the night, but the Wolves trailed 9-8 at the first break.

“We pressed, we got some steals, but struggled against their two posts, who used a high-low offense when possible for easy baskets,” King said. “We ran our offenses, got great steals – blocked and just worked together all night.

Kylie Van Velkinburgh had some key blocks and hit a couple of shots tonight,” she added. “Anya had some nice fast breaks, slowed down for control and hit the layups.”

Coupeville flipped the script in the second quarter, taking a one-point lead to the locker room, only to see Granite knot things up at 20-20 heading into the final quarter.

With the two teams standing in the middle of the ring and exchanging rib shots, a big play here or there was liable to be the deciding moment.

Enter Bailey, the coolest cucumber in the bunch, the drummer who bops to her own beat, long braids slapping a rhythm on her back as she glides through life.

Clock madly churning down, the Wolves pulled off of a nifty fake on an inbound pass. Three players dove towards the girl with the ball, but Bailey went her own way.

A jab step forward, a pirouette back behind the arc, ball lands on her fingertips, eyebrow arches slightly, ball flips skyward, splashes through net, world goes bonkers, Bailey slightly nods.

As excited as Coupeville was when the three-ball rippled through the net, turning a one-point deficit into a two-point lead, there were still a few ticks left on the clock.

Granite got the ball up floor, but aggressive pressure from Wolf frosh Audrianna Shaw threw the Tigers off their pace and a potential game-tying shot was not going to drop.

“Time runs out and we all go crazy,” King said. “It was an awesome game to end our season. Very proud of these girls.”

Leavell paced the Wolves with 10 points, four steals and three assists, while Izzy Wells added seven points and four rebounds.

Van Velkinburgh (6), Bailey (5), and Shaw (1) rounded out the scoring attack, with Shaw filling up the stat sheet with four rebounds, three steals and three assists.

Abby Mulholland (three rebounds), Ivy Leedy, Morgan Stevens, Ja’Kenya Hoskins (two rebounds, two steals), Lily Leedy, and Alana Mihill all saw floor time, while injured stars Kylie Chernikoff and Kiara Contreras provided vocal bench support.

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Daniel Olson scored four points Friday as Coupeville’s JV capped season with a win at Granite Falls. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Nothing sweeter than ending a season on a win.

With Xavier Murdy and Grady Rickner combining to rain down 33 points Friday, the Coupeville High School JV boys basketball team did just that.

Riding an explosive second quarter, the Wolves crunched host Granite Falls 45-36, snapping a five-game losing skid and sending everyone back to the bus with an extra skip to their step.

The wins lifts the JV’s final record to 3-7 in North Sound Conference play, 7-10 overall.

After the long trip to Granite, the Wolf boys came out a bit cold in the early going, falling behind 7-3 at the first break.

But then, with a bit of floor time beneath their feet, the young guns rediscovered their shooting touch and hit the hapless Tigers like a runaway tsunami reaching shore.

Murdy went off for 11 of his game-high 21 in the second quarter, while TJ Rickner, Daniel Olson and Sage Downes all chipped in with buckets during the second frame.

By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, CHS had ridden an 18-5 surge to a nine-point lead, and never looked back.

The two teams played dead even in the second half, but the Wolves closed strongly, with Grady Rickner at the top of his game.

The fab frosh hit from every angle in the fourth quarter, dropping in a pair of free throws, a pair of field goals and a long three-ball as he accounted for nine of his team’s 13 points down the stretch.

Chris Smith’s squad got something from everyone in its finale, with Murdy (21), Grady Rickner (12), Olson (4), Downes (3), TJ Rickner (3), and Cody Roberts (2) all scoring.

Tucker Hall, Logan Martin, Chris Ruck, and Miles Davidson rounded out the active roster, each one harassing the Tigers with an intensity which bodes well for the future of Coupeville basketball.

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Ben Smith nailed several big fourth-quarter shots Saturday, helping the Coupeville C-Team topple South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Revenge!

A day after Coupeville’s JV boys basketball squad lost to South Whidbey, the Wolf C-Team swept in and got some payback.

Playing at a tournament in Granite Falls Saturday, the Wolves put on a defensive clinic in the second half, toppling a Falcon squad which featured 9 of its school’s 14 JV players, including the leading scorer from Friday night.

Coupeville’s own seven-player team took a hit in the nightcap, losing its top player to an early injury and eventually falling to the tourney hosts, but CHS coach Scott Fox came away pleased with the day-long excursion.

“Got the monkey off our backs!”, he said. “We put together a great win against South Whidbey!

“Team played awesome defense in the second half.”

The Wolf C-Team, now 1-7 on the season, returns home to host Oak Harbor Monday. Tip-off is 5 PM.

How Saturday played out:

 

South Whidbey:

The game was a tale of two very different halves, as the Wolf comeback kings stormed from behind to net a 28-16 win.

Jaylen Nitta tossed in four of his game-high 14 points in the opening quarter, but Coupeville found itself in a 12-5 hole at the first break.

Things didn’t get much better, though not necessarily all that much worse either, during a second quarter which was brutal for lovers of offensive play.

The Falcons garnered the only points of the frame with a lonely field goal, but, as they went to the locker room up 14-5, little did they know they would never, ever hit from the field again.

Perhaps inspired by a Lombardi-style speech from their coach, or just revived by the intermission, the Wolves attacked ferociously once play started back up.

With Nitta running wild, dumping in six more points in the third, CHS used a 10-0 run to turn their deficit into a one-point lead.

After that, it was time for “Big Game BenSmith to take over, as he rifled in a pair of shots from way outside in the fourth, keying a 13-2 surge to nail down the win.

South Whidbey’s only second-half points came courtesy two free throws, as the Falcons failed to hit a single field goal after the halftime break.

Nitta finished with 14 points to lead the way, while Smith (6), Chris Cernick (3), Jonathan Partida (3), and Tony Garcia (2) also scored.

Brayden Coatney and Andrew Aparicio rounded out the plucky Wolf squad, coming strong on defense alongside their teammates.

 

Granite Falls:

Nitta went down early, and without their leading scorer, CHS fell 43-22.

After trailing 13-2 at the first break, the Wolves cut the lead back to seven by the half, and were still within single digits until the game slipped away in the fourth quarter.

While Granite had a 10-6 advantage in players, Partida, in particular, didn’t back down.

Nailing a trio of three-balls, he scored in every quarter while tickling the nets for a season-best 15 points.

Coatney, Aparicio, and Garcia chipped in with two apiece, while Cernick swished a free-throw to cap the Wolf scoring.

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Audrianna Shaw knocked down an especially impressive bucket Tuesday, but the Coupeville JV couldn’t hold off Granite Falls. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No excuses, ever.

Despite playing basically four players down Tuesday, the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball team fought visiting Granite Falls from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

But, with two of its top players limited to a single quarter of action, and two more in street clothes, the Wolves suffered a third-quarter let-down and fell 33-20.

The loss, which largely hinged on an 11-2 run by Granite coming out of halftime, drops Coupeville to 3-2 in North Sound Conference play, 6-6 overall.

The Wolves were without the injured Abby Mulholland and Kylie Chernikoff, while starters Izzy Wells and Ja’Kenya Hoskins only made brief cameos so they could remain eligible for extended duty in the varsity game.

That forced CHS coach Amy King to shuffle her roster, and she did, patching together a variety of lineups, while giving Morgan Stevens her first career start.

The high-energy freshman brought a nice intensity to the defensive side of the ball, as did her fellow hustlers like Lily Leedy and Alana Mihill.

Much of Coupeville’s offense came courtesy Anya Leavell, who knocked down eight points with a variety of sweet moves.

She went coast to coast for one bucket, had a pair of baskets on plays where she rolled hard to the hoop, lofting the ball up and over her defender’s fingertips, then capped things with a pull-up jumper.

The game’s best bucket came from Audrianna Shaw, who threw down a wicked mini-hook shot on the move, slicing off a chunk of the backboard before finding pay-dirt.

With the game tied 6-6 after one quarter, Coupeville said farewell to Hoskins. Then, trailing just 18-16 at the half, it was time to bid adieu to Wells.

That gave Granite a chance to bang the ball inside to its big players — one Tiger was six-foot in her socks and camped out all game right beneath the rim — and use a power game to pull away.

The game took a nasty turn in the final moments when Wolf guard Kiara Contreras was launched skyward during a battle for a rebound, before landing hard, smacking her head on the floor.

To their credit, the Tigers, to a player, came over after the game to check on the scrappy CHS ball-hawk, with the Granite player who inadvertently yanked Contreras off her feet offering profuse apologies.

Leavell’s eight points paced the Wolf scoring attack, with Shaw (4), Mollie Bailey (2), Contreras (2), Wells (2), and Hoskins (2) also scoring.

Kylie Van Velkinburgh played strongly on defense, rising up to reject a Tiger shot while the game was still a one-score affair.

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