Posts Tagged ‘gut check’

   Sarah Wright filled up the stat sheet Saturday, collecting five points, seven rebounds, two steals and an assist in a Wolf win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was gut check time, and the Wolves passed.

Playing on the road less than 24 hours after its worst offensive performance of the season, missing its top scorer and facing the unthinkable — a slide into the Olympic League cellar — the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad responded with grit and fire.

Putting together a ferocious defensive stand in the late going, the Wolves rallied to upend host Klahowya 29-23 Saturday, evening their conference mark at 1-1.

Now 3-9 overall in a rebuilding year, CHS pulled within a half game of Chimacum (2-1) and a full game of Port Townsend (3-1) in the league standings.

The three-time defending champs, who lost four starters before the season (three to graduation, one to a transfer) and two more starters in the past month (one to injury, one who quit), needed to dig deep, and they did.

Hitting seven of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, after netting just 5-15 up to that point, Coupeville used a 12-5 surge in the final eight minutes to turn a one-point deficit into a semi-comfortable win.

“The fourth hit and something clicked,” said Wolf coach David King. “We came out with more fire, a confidence, one could say.

“Our energy was at its highest throughout the fourth,” he added. “We threw on a press and created havoc. Got some turnovers and got them sped up.”

Trailing 18-17 after three quarters of defensive struggle, the Wolves seized their moment.

Lindsey Roberts, stepping up big to fill the gap left by the absence of top scorer Mikayla Elfrank, out with a severe ankle injury, dropped in both ends of a one-and-one opportunity at the free throw line.

That put CHS up 21-20, and gave it a lead it would never relinquish.

To drive home the point, the Wolves immediately jumped on Klahowya on the very next play, stealing the in-bounds pass and turning it into a game-busting play.

With the shot clock running down, Sarah Wright set a screen for Kyla Briscoe, who drove right to left, got into the free throw line area, then threaded a flawless pass to Roberts on the wing.

The never-nervous junior caught the ball and promptly drained a three-ball, stretching the lead to four and knifing the Eagles for good.

“That play was the one that we could see the air went out of the Klahowya players,” King said.

Down the stretch, Coupeville iced the game with free throws and another play run to perfection by Wright and Briscoe.

On this one, Briscoe came off of a screen set by her teammate, rolled inside the charity stripe and singed the nets with a jumper over the outstretched arms of a defender who was a step too late to stop her.

Rebounding quickly after a sub-par 17-point performance in a non-conference loss to 2A North Mason, King was thrilled to see his players show their heart and will to win.

“Everyone had better games than last night,” he said. “It really was a game to see what we were made of, and we found a way.

“It was a well-deserved win by and for the players.”

Playing in Klahowya’s deadly-quiet gym, the Wolves allowed their hosts to be the aggressors in the early going. After falling behind 8-4 at the end of one quarter, however, Coupeville noticeably toughened up.

Wright ripped down “a monster rebound” in the second quarter, in which she out-dueled three rivals in her pursuit of the ball, and that lit a spark under the Wolves.

Radically cutting down their turnovers in the second half, and relentlessly attacking the hoop (“I’ll take 25 free throws every game!”), Coupeville turned the tide.

“They battled the whole night,” King said.

With Elfrank injured, Avalon Renninger sick and Hannah Davidson on her way back from an out-of-state trip, Coupeville only went seven deep Saturday, but got big play from everyone in uniform.

Ema Smith was a whirling dervish on both ends of the floor, and when foul trouble sent her to the bench, freshman Chelsea Prescott stepped up, hitting the boards hard.

Still recovering from her own illness, Scout Smith was healthier than she had been against North Mason and brought “energy and heart to the court,” while Allison Wenzel drew a tough assignment and nailed it.

Matched up against Klahowya’s talented Amber Bumbalough, Wenzel was an aggressive shadow, always with a hand in her face, preventing the Eagle gunner from getting hot.

Allison is a hard-nosed defender and she did a great job all night,” King said.

Rounding out the Wolf bench were Maddy Hilkey and Ashlie Shank, who made the jump up from the JV squad. While the duo didn’t see floor time, they brought an extra jolt of energy as vocal cheerleaders for their teammates.

With Elfrank expected to be out for much, if not all, of the rest of the regular season, others will need to help fill the gap.

“We need everyone else to step up their games,” King said. “It’s going to have to be a team effort. Tonight, that’s exactly what it was.

“All of the players have a well-earned day off tomorrow.”

Roberts paced the Wolves, throwing down a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while still finding time to pilfer three steals.

Briscoe, Ema Smith and Wright each dropped five points in support, while Prescott notched three.

Every girl who played helped fill up the stat sheet, with Briscoe (five rebounds, three steals, two blocks) and Ema Smith (five boards, four steals, two assists) busy bees.

Wenzel ripped down three rebounds, while Scout Smith picked the pocket of an Eagle ball-handler twice.

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CJ Smith had a huge steal late in the game, and hit four threws down the stretch, to help ice Coupeville's win. (Shelli Trumbull photo)

  CJ Smith had a game-changing steal late in the game, and hit four free throws down the stretch, to help ice Coupeville’s win. (Shelli Trumbull photo)

It would have been easy to lose.

After falling apart a bit in the third quarter, the Coupeville High School JV boys’ basketball team trailed by four heading into the final eight minutes Saturday against visiting Mount Vernon Christian.

Six minutes later, things looked a bit bleaker, with the Wolves now down by seven with under two minutes to play.

But it was at that exact moment that CHS reached down deep and found a miracle ending, using a mix of three-point bombs and precision free throws to stage a clock-busting 13-3 rally that carried it to an unexpected 54-51 win.

It was the third win in the last four games for the Wolf JV, and one that will leave a lasting impact.

“Very proud of our boys. They showed great resolve today,” said Coupeville coach Dustin Van Velkinburgh. “They stayed together, worked their tails off and were rewarded for their hard work with a win they will remember for a long time.

“They showed their heart.”

The ending was a wild one, as the Wolves got their points from three players who all shone brightly under pressure.

DeAndre Mitchell started the rally with a trey, then hit two free throws, while Gabe Wynn (a three-pointer and a free throw) and CJ Smith (four free throws and a huge steal) chipped in with four apiece during the run.

In a game where both teams lived at the charity stripe, Coupeville started slowly (8 of 22) but found its groove in the fourth, draining 14 of 19 down the stretch.

The Wolves, paced by big-time rebounding from Jared Helmstadter, went to the locker room with a six-point lead.

“We played with heart and enthusiasm in the first half, especially on the defensive end,” Van Velkinburgh said.

MVC rallied in the third, throwing together a 17-5 run, but Coupeville blunted the surge a bit by successfully pulling off a basket on an in-bounds play to end the quarter.

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