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TJ Rickner banged in four points Friday as Coupeville’s JV went toe-to-toe with Cedar Park Christian. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A big leap forward.

The Coupeville High School JV boys basketball squad may have lost twice this season to Cedar Park Christian, but the Wolves drastically improved their performance the second time around.

Ten days ago, CHS went to Bothell and was blown out 61-24.

Jump forward to Friday night, and the final margin was single digits, even with Coupeville’s leading scorer sitting out an entire quarter.

With freshman Xavier Murdy’s playing time being protected in case he played in the varsity contest as well, the Wolves chipped away before eventually falling 60-51.

The loss drops the Coupeville young guns to 2-6 in North Sound Conference play, 6-9 overall, with two games left on the schedule.

The JV, which finishes with road games at South Whidbey and Granite Falls next week, closed out its home schedule with a game in which eight of nine players scored.

The big two in the opening quarter were Murdy, who tossed in seven, and fellow frosh Logan Martin, who banked in six.

Trailing 22-15 at the first break, CHS coach Chris Smith stashed Murdy on the bench in the second frame, while Daniel Olson stepped up to key the Wolf offense.

Going off for all seven of his points on the night, the sophomore swing player did his best to keep Coupeville close, and the Wolves went into the break down 39-27.

The second half, with Murdy back in action, and getting help from everyone on the floor, was a fairly even affair, as CHS attacked the deficit, only to run out of time.

Murdy topped the score-book with a team-high 16 points, while Martin added nine and Olson rattled the rim for seven.

Mitchell Hall (6), TJ Rickner (4), Grady Rickner (4), Cody Roberts (3) and Sage Downes (2) also scored, while Chris Ruck gave the team a burst of energy off the bench.

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Sage Downes went for 19 Tuesday, including hitting one of the better buzzer-beaters seen in the CHS gym. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

There were 98 points scored, but the final three will be the ones remembered.

Capping a splendid one-man shooting show in a losing cause against a powerhouse foe Tuesday, Sage Downes went from on-fire shooter to professional arsonist in the flick of a wrist.

And while his shot for the ages, and his 19 points, weren’t enough to save the Coupeville High School JV boys basketball squad against visiting King’s, you would never know it from the crowd reaction.

Sure, the scoreboard showed a 58-40 advantage for the Knights at the final buzzer, but what happened a millisecond ahead of said buzzer is what we’re here to talk about.

Charging up court, the clock running out on him, Downes, about a billion miles away from the basket, had no time and no chance.

But he had a shot.

Flipping the basketball high in the air, just as he neared the half-court line, while jammed tight against the scorer’s table, Downes arced a rainbow.

And promptly found the bucket of gold waiting underneath it.

His shot dropped from somewhere high up in the rafters, splashing home for a miracle three-ball which should have been worth four or five points for creativity, derring-do and how-the-heck-did-that-go-in.

The crowd went bonkers, the Wolf bench flooded the floor and JV coach Chris Smith about jumped out of the gym, arms pumping like a madman unleashed.

And Downes?

A little grin, a little shrug, a little stare-down of his defender, and then he strolled away, the thought bubble above his head plainly saying, “I can do this every day, any day, baby.”

The shot capped a strong performance for Downes, and his teammates, as they took the best hay-makers King’s could fire, and didn’t break.

The Knights JV, while not having the towering height of their varsity counterparts, are an exceptionally speedy bunch, and they used their jets to bust open the game.

Mixing running layups with net-rustling three-balls of their own — King’s hit five of its six treys in the opening quarter — the visitors led almost from start to finish.

Coupeville actually got on the board first thanks to a pretty pull-up jumper from Xavier Murdy, but then the Knights went to work.

Despite eight points from Downes, including the first two of his five three-balls, the Wolves trailed 19-10 at the first break and couldn’t make up the deficit.

CHS had its moments in the second quarter, though, primarily a three-ball from Logan Martin and a resounding blocked shot from the ever-busy Downes, then played King’s almost even in the second half.

The Wolves closed the third quarter on a 12-5 run, with Downes banking in eight, but he got help.

Grady Rickner also rattled the rim on his own successful trey, while Tucker Hall put on a show doing all the small things which turn into bigger things.

Fighting on the boards, hitting free throws, and twice making great kick-out passes which translated into Wolf three-balls, Hall was the night’s unsung hero.

“Great, great game for Tucker,” Chris Smith said. “Love to see that!”

While Downes was the big man on offense with his 19, Coupeville got balanced scoring, netting points from seven of its 10 players.

Grady Rickner (5), Hall (4), Murdy (4), Martin (3), Daniel Olson (3), and Cody Roberts (2) all chipped in, while Chris Ruck, TJ Rickner and Miles Davidson also saw floor time.

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Freshman Anya Leavell tossed in eight points Monday as Coupeville’s JV bushwhacked Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Our freshmen are better than yours.

Completing a 4-0 run against Whidbey Island rivals this season, the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad drilled visiting Oak Harbor’s C-Team 45-16 Monday night.

The win, the fourth in the last five games for the Wolves, lifts them to 8-6 on the year.

Coupeville’s JV, which featured eight freshmen among its nine active players Monday, swept home-and-away series from both 1A North Sound Conference rival South Whidbey and 3A Oak Harbor, granting them the possibly made-up, but still spiffy title of “Island Champs.”

And none of those four games were remotely close, either.

Facing a withering Wolf defense, Oak Harbor spent much of the first half Monday just fighting to get out of its back-court.

The Wildcats didn’t get a shot up that connected with either the rim or the backboard until seven and a half minutes into the game.

At that point, OHHS already trailed 16-0, en route to an eventual 24-0 deficit midway through the second quarter, and Coupeville was clicking on all cylinders.

Bucket after bucket was set up by crisp passes, as the Wolves picked apart Oak Harbor’s interior defense with ease.

The game opened on a layup from Izzy Wells, with Coupeville’s lone active sophomore, Mollie Bailey, providing the sweet dish, as she came off the dribble and flipped the pass right onto Wells waiting fingertips.

Less than two seconds later, having yanked an in-bounds pass away from the intended target, Ja’Kenya Hoskins crashed hard to the hoop, slapping home the ball with a satisfying thunk.

After that the buckets came bam-bam-bam, many set-up by steals or Wolves wrestling 50/50 balls away from their rivals and immediately crashing towards the hoop.

Wells had the hottest hand in the opening frame, popping for eight, but Coupeville spread its 18-0 surge among five shooters.

Six of Coupeville’s nine buckets in the first quarter came courtesy layups, two on sideline jumpers by Wells and Anya Leavell, and one on a power move down in the paint from Abby Mulholland.

The heir to the Keefe basketball legacy (go look it up, it’s pretty dang impressive), Mulholland posted up, caught an entry pass, then knocked her defender backwards with a subtle hip shot before draining the turnaround jumper.

The second quarter was a showcase for Audrianna Shaw, who kicked in three buckets as CHS went up 24-0 before setting for a 28-2 lead at the break.

Showing she’s dangerous from anywhere on the floor, Shaw drilled a pull-up jumper, off a kick-out from Leavell, then rolled around the corner to bank home a shot before capping things with a burst right up the middle, splitting two defenders and hitting a runner.

Mulholland, who scored in every quarter, paced the Wolves in the third, but fellow frosh Alana Mihill earned the biggest curtain call.

The scrappy cross country veteran, who had been zigging and zagging on defense all night, frustrating the Wildcat shooters, suddenly pulled up and drained a three-ball from the top of the arc late in the third frame.

Her teammates, JV and varsity, went bonkers for Mihill’s surprise bomb, her second bucket and first trey of the season.

Up in the crow’s nest, varsity players Avalon Renninger, Tia Wurzrainer, and Scout Smith, shooting game film, got so excited they came close to knocking each other down into the stands.

Perhaps taking some inspiration from Mihill, Oak Harbor, which had struggled mightily on offense through three quarters, hitting just one field goal and two free throws, picked things up down the stretch.

The Wildcats managed to put together an 8-0 run during the fourth quarter, topped double-digits scoring for the night, and “won” the final frame 12-6.

A huge part of that was Coupeville having long past taken its press off, but the Wolf defenders did pull off a couple of strong plays late, while being careful not to be so aggressive as to be jerks.

Morgan Stevens hauled down her fair share of rebounds, scrapping hard in the paint, while Lily Leedy made off with several steals, turning one into a breakaway layup.

As the ball settled through the net, Leedy turned, and flashing a smile at her family in the stands, charged back down court, ready to harass any and all ball-handlers foolish enough to dribble her way.

While CHS coach Amy King was missing four players with injuries (Kylie Van Velkinburgh, Ivy Leedy, Kylie Chernikoff and Kiara Contreras), she got big contributions from everyone able to take the floor.

Wells led the scoring attack with 12 points, while Mulholland was coming up hot in her rear-view mirror with 10 of her own.

After that, the Wolves got eight from Leavell, six from Shaw, three from Mihill, and a bucket apiece from Hoskins, Bailey, and Leedy.

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Lily Leedy snagged six steals Friday, as Coupeville’s JV girls routed South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Three seconds.

High school basketball is a 32-minute game, but the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball team didn’t need the full time Friday to put its game on ice.

Scoring in three ticks of the clock, with Ja’Kenya Hoskins deflecting the opening tip to Anya Leavell, who hit Audrianna Shaw in stride for a wham-bam-game-over bucket, the Wolves made their intentions clear.

After that, it was nothin’ but good times, as Coupeville blew out to a 25-1 lead at the half before pulling back and settling for a 35-7 thrashing of visiting South Whidbey.

With the season sweep of their next door neighbors, the Wolf JV rises to 4-2 in North Sound Conference action, 7-6 overall.

Next up for the CHS second unit is a rematch Monday against Oak Harbor, another Whidbey team it also blew out the first time around.

The home non-conference tilt tips at 3 PM.

Facing a South Whidbey squad which is in rebuilding mode, Coupeville put the hammer down and did it quickly.

Using a press powered by Hoskins, Shaw, Leavell, Izzy Wells, and Mollie Bailey, CHS turned steal after steal into layups and short buckets.

The Wolves finished with an astonishing 34 steals on the night, with Leavell making off with nine.

Wells and Lily Leedy were coming up fast behind the fab frosh, picking Falcon ball-handlers six times apiece, while Hoskins made off with five.

“They covered the floor really well, working together to weave a web that South Whidbey couldn’t break through,” said CHS coach Amy King.

“Once we started substituting, and getting up a little more, we stayed aggressive but pulled back on the press.”

South Whidbey came dangerously close to being shut out in the first half, finally dropping a single free throw through the net in the final 30 seconds of the second quarter.

The Wolves slowed their roll a bit after the break, settling for a 10-6 advantage in the second half, but got big play from everyone on the bench.

“We started subbing and with each new rotation, came the same energy, the same teamwork,” King said.

Leedy was a firecracker, mixing steals with kick-outs to her open teammates for shots.

And she wasn’t the only one.

Alana (Mihill) always plays such great defense and tonight was no different,” King said. “Morgan (Stevens) was strong on defense, stopping drives and rebounding with a “Nicole (Laxton)-like” fierceness.

Kylie (Van Velkinburgh) helped where needed, as a post but helping with the ball,” she added. “Hurting with shin splints that just won’t go away, she had a hand up to discourage shots, directed teammates and took shots when open.”

Two late plays brought the Wolf faithful to their feet.

On the first, Abby Mulholland, working down low in the key, sucked the defense in, then found Stevens with a “brilliant pass” to set up a crowd-pleasing bucket.

As the clock ticked down on the game, Wells, who was a one-woman wrecking crew with 11 points, 14 rebounds, six steals, three assists and two blocks, ended things with emphasis.

South Whidbey had a perfect pass into the corner on the game’s final play, got the shot off and … WHAM!!!

Wells, “the quiet assassin,” rejected the ball and had “that perfect solid block to end the game.”

Shaw, who played “a very strong game” with “outstanding defense,” was also a terror on the offensive side of the ball, scoring a game-high 12 to go with the 11 by Wells, while Mulholland ruffled the nets for five points.

Bailey (3), Leavell (2), and Stevens (2) rounded out the offense, with Hoskins snatching six boards.

Ja’Kenya always makes an impact on the court,” King said. “She ripped rebounds, made passes and adds an energy that lifts her teammates up.

“As a coach, I can say I was very proud of every one of them,” she added. “They put together their most complete game all season.”

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Sage Downes tossed in a team-high 11 Friday for the Coupeville JV boys basketball squad. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Toss out the first quarter, and it was a one-point thriller.

Unfortunately for the Coupeville High School JV boys basketball squad, the refs insisted on counting every point Friday night.

And that one brief hiccup, when they were outscored 14-9 over the game’s first eight minutes, sent the Wolves to a 40-34 loss to visiting South Whidbey.

The defeat drops the CHS young guns to 2-4 in North Sound Conference play, 6-7 overall.

The first time the Island rivals have faced this season (they play in Langley Jan. 29), Friday’s rumble was edge of your seat all the way.

The Falcons used a 6-5 “run” in the second quarter to take a 20-14 lead in at the half, then the two squads played even after the break.

Coupeville got a fair amount of its points thanks to shots from behind the three-point arc, raining down seven treys to four from the Falcons.

But those four were killers, as South Whidbey’s Ben Lind hit a pair in the opening frame, and two more in the final quarter en route to a game-high 13 points.

Answering for the Wolves was sophomore Sage Downes, who tickled the nets for 11 points, including a trio of three-balls.

Much of his support came from freshman Xavier Murdy, who netted all nine of his points thanks to nothin’ but three-balls, while Daniel Olson hit Coupeville’s final trey and had seven points.

Grady Rickner knocked down three points, with Cody Roberts and TJ Rickner adding a bucket apiece to round out the scoring attack.

Tucker Hall and Logan Martin also saw floor time for the Wolves.

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