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Morgan Payne scored a huge breakaway bucket in the fourth, part of an epic Coupeville rally that fell one slim bucket short. (John Fisken photo)

Morgan Payne scored a huge breakaway bucket in the fourth, part of an epic Coupeville rally that fell one slim bucket short. (John Fisken photo)

For seven minutes and 52 seconds, it was a storybook ending come true. Then the story dribbled away at the very end.

Unable to get off a game-tying shot in the final eight seconds, while their top scorer was locked to the bench after getting a fifth foul, the Coupeville High School boys’ basketball team could only pull off 99% of a miracle comeback Friday night.

Trailing by 12 points entering the fourth, the Wolves suddenly got physical with visiting La Conner and ripped off a game-ending 15-5 run fueled by Nick Streubel rampaging through the paint and a miracle defensive play from Gavin O’Keefe.

Then the ball took a bad bounce off a knee and flopped out of bounds and all the dreams died in a 47-45 loss that dropped the Wolves to 0-6.

A complete reversal from a season ago, when Coupeville lost by 49 points to the Braves, who went on to place fourth at the 2B state tourney, the game revived memories of a few years ago for Wolf fans.

The joint was jumping, Streubel was unstoppable in the paint, throwing down 11 of his team-high 13 points down the stretch, and fate seemed to be smiling on a Wolf squad in desperate need of more than another moral victory.

A steal and breakaway bucket from Morgan Payne pulled Coupeville to within two, then Streubel rammed home a rebound to knot things at 43.

Riding a 13-1 run, the Wolves held La Conner without a field goal for more than six minutes in the fourth.

The biggest stop had come from O’Keefe, the senior guard playing for the first time since game two of his junior season.

Having fought back from two broken legs, he put on an extraordinary burst of speed, coming from one end of the court to the other, to spike a ball away from a La Conner player who was inches away from what had seemed like a sure-thing layup.

The run was finally broken when Streubel, who played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls, was whistled for a phantom fifth. Taking advantage, La Conner hit two free throws, then scored off of an inbounds play to stretch the lead to 47-43.

Joel Walstad calmly backed his man down and hit a short jumper to cut the lead back to two, then Coupeville forced a shot clock violation to reclaim the ball with 8.1 seconds to play.

The Wolves tried to get the ball up-court down the left side, but there was a bit of confusion, and a ton of hard-nosed Brave pressure, and Coupeville’s final shot failed to materialize.

The ending, while frustrating, couldn’t erase the positives, of which there were many, for the Wolves.

Coupeville came out strong, leading by one after the first quarter. Then, after briefly falling asleep at the wheel early in the second, they closed the half with a 7-2 run fueled by five from Wiley Hesselgrave.

Streubel (13) was joined by Anthony Bergeron (9) and Hesselgrave (8) atop the scoring chart, while Walstad banked in five, including a three-point bomb.

Payne and Aaron Trumbull banged home four apiece, and O’Keefe sweetly swished his first in-game jumper since 2012.

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