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Ryanne Knoblich, seen with big bro Gavin, tossed in four points Thursday as Coupeville battled King’s. (Photo by Mariah Knoblich)

So, there’s two ways to look at what went down Thursday in the Coupeville Middle School gym.

In one scenario, we spend a lot of time chastising King’s for being, well, King’s.

A school which claimed it couldn’t field an 8th grade team this season, likely because a number of its players chose AAU or travel ball over school hoops, deliberately dodged Coupeville’s most-seasoned team.

So, while the Wolf 8th grade varsity sat idle, King’s sent one squad against the Wolf 7th graders, and then sent “the rest of its players” out to smack around Coupeville’s JV.

The Knights coach claimed her second team had few players with previous playing experience.

At which point, the off-screen narrator can solemnly be heard to intone … “She lied.”

While there might not have been any AAU-seasoned supernovas present, a surprising number of King’s “second squad” (we’ll say 97.9%) proved able to dribble with both hands, set screens, thread passes between defenders, and demonstrate polished shooting techniques.

All things most of Coupeville’s JV team, which features only one player with SWISH experience, is still trying to master.

So, rah-rah, King’s, take your 46-4 win in which you were still flinging up three-balls and aggressively going for steals in the final minute, and put it in your trophy case.

And next time, step up and play the team you should have been playing, the Wolf varsity squad that was eyeballing you from the stands.

Of course that won’t happen this season, as King’s refusal to play a real 8th grade schedule means the league’s planning went out the door in the week leading up to the season.

With a new master schedule in place, the Wolves and Knights only face once now, and not twice, and frankly, everyone is the better for it.

Coupeville’s 8th grade varsity, denied the chance to challenge private school power King’s, will instead play two games against Sultan, Granite Falls, and Lakewood, and three against South Whidbey.

All public schools willing to play straight-up and not hide behind fibs and roster shuffling.

Give credit to the Wolves JV, which played hard, to a woman, all the way, even while being wildly over-matched.

Ryanne Knoblich, a varsity/JV hybrid who was the only CMS player on the floor with non-school playing experience, scored all four of Coupeville’s points, and all on hard-earned free throws.

Adrian Burrows, Jessenia Camarena, Claire Mayne, Cristina McGrath, Melanie Navarro, Abigail Ramirez, Jessica Ross-McMahon, and Jordyn Rogers played with guts, and should be hailed for their effort.

Camarena and Rogers, in particular, spent much of their time diving and fighting for loose balls, while Burrows yanked down more than her share of rebounds.

The opening game of the day was much closer, as Coupeville came within a final shot of forcing overtime in a 21-19 loss.

The Wolves got contributions from everyone on the floor, but special attention has to be paid to the one-woman wrecking crew that goes by the name Brionna Blouin.

A night after scoring 14 in a season-opening win against Langley, Blouin splashed home all of Coupeville’s points, hitting a trio of three-balls, including a miracle buzzer-beater, before putting on a fourth-quarter show for the ages.

Staying on the court for the entire 28 minutes, while also bringing the ball up on virtually every play with her point guard on vacation, she even earned a nod of approval from take-no-guff lead ref Jim Shulock.

Behind their on-fire gunner, the Wolves twice came back from double-digit deficits.

After falling behind 10-0 to start the game, Blouin netted back-to-back three-balls to end the first quarter and send a surge through the CMS fans.

The first trey was your standard-issue pull-up shot fired on the move, and by standard, I mean standard for an NBA guard, maybe, but not for the other 99% of 7th graders out there.

Blouin, for a young player, already demonstrates an often uncanny ability to create a few inches between herself and her defender in a split second, then loft a high, arching shot.

Not that she needed to create space on the second shot, as King’s defenders were backpedaling as Coupeville raced the clock in a bid to get up court.

One eye monitoring the seconds tick away, the other looking to see if the CHS varsity players working the scorekeeper’s table were watching, Blouin got spectacular.

Pulling off not one, but two pump fakes, she slid under a King’s player, then calmly flicked the ball skyward.

At which point time stopped in the known universe, allowing all gathered to trace the flight of the ball as it rode the rainbow, skipped off the top of the glass, then settled through the net with a happy little sigh.

After that King’s started shadowing Blouin with more than one defender, which paid off with a 9-2 surge over the next two quarters.

Coupeville’s defense, led by strong work on the boards from Reese Wilkinson and Kayla Arnold, and hustle for loose balls by Allison Nastali and Skylar Parker, kept the Knights from getting red-hot, but a 19-8 deficit looked imposing heading into the fourth quarter.

Well, until Blouin went to work.

She pulled off a stop-n-pop jumper, slashed in for a layup, netted a sideline jumper, threw down a turnaround jumper in the paint, then nailed her final three-ball from the top of the arc.

King’s only answer to Blouin’s 11-point eruption was one single, solitary put-back off of an offensive rebound, but it stung for two reasons.

One, it came not on the first rebound, but on what felt like the 437th (reality says it was rebound #5 off the same offensive possession).

Secondly, it gave the Knights the two-point advantage they would need to hang on to the win.

With King’s relentlessly pressuring Blouin, Coupeville went to Parker for a game-tying shot, and she came very close to making it a reality.

Unfortunately, the basket turned unforgiving, letting the ball skid around the rim, before finally spitting it back out.

When King’s players went down the “good game, good game” line at the end of this one, they were saying the words with a fair amount of relief in their voices.

While Blouin captured a lot of attention, and rightfully so, her teammates worked extremely hard to help her get to where she was going.

Erica McGrath pulled down several rebounds and came close to knocking down her own three-ball, while Ava Mitten, Kaitlyn Leavell, and Desi Ramirez buzzed around, creating havoc on defense.

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Hannah Davidson had five points and eight rebounds Thursday as Coupeville fell to highly-ranked King’s, ending the Wolves playoff run. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolves enjoy a moment together during the ferry ride home. (Amy King photo)

In the end, there was one team they just couldn’t beat.

Unable to solve the big, quick, highly-disciplined pack of players private school power King’s throws at the world, the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad reached the end of its season Thursday at Shoreline.

Falling 48-11 in the second round of the District 1 playoffs, the Wolves were eliminated a win shy of qualifying for bi-districts, and finish 9-10 on the year.

Three of those losses came to the North Sound Conference champs, as all-universe freshman Jada Wynn and company swept the season series from Coupeville.

Even though their season ending with a defeat, and a long ride home on the icy back roads of America, the Wolves enjoyed a fair amount of success in David King’s seventh year at the helm of the program.

CHS, which has made the playoffs every season under King, claimed third-place in the six-team NSC, beating pre-season projections, and closed with five wins in its last eight games.

That included an 11-point home playoff win over Sultan Wednesday, in a game thrown together at the very last second.

The Coupeville girls were also one of just two Whidbey Island high school hoops teams (out of six) to make the playoffs, and the last eliminated, at least by a few minutes.

Playing earlier in the evening Thursday, South Whidbey’s boys were bashed 67-47 at Meridian and also fell a game shy of a berth to bi-districts.

The onslaught of ice and snow which ravaged Washington changed what was supposed to be double-elimination district tourneys into modified singe-elimination ones.

With the threat of round two of Snowmageddon arriving Friday, Coupeville’s second postseason bout got shoved up a night, sending the Wolves to the bus less than 24 hours after they whacked the Turks.

The quick turnaround, piled on top of an emotional home win, a long bus trip, a day of school, and the sheer talent of their rivals made for a tall mountain to scale.

“A tough game after the great win last night,” David King said. “We came out and gave everything we had.

“That said, last night’s game took a lot out of us, energy wise,” he added. “We got a lot of shots up and just couldn’t get them to fall. King’s defense is fundamentally sound; they prevented us from getting to the basket.”

Coupeville broke 40 points in seven games this season, but could only scrape together 39 points combined across its three losses to King’s, scoring 17, 11, and 11.

Thursday night the only shot which dropped in the first quarter was a three-ball from Ema Smith, and the Wolves went to the break trailing 13-3.

It didn’t get much better from there, with King’s stretching the lead out to 28-6 at the half, then completely shutting Coupeville’s offensive attack down during an 11-0 third quarter.

The Wolves continued to work hard, though, pushing the Knights long after the game was out of hand.

“The team never backed down and gave everything they had every time they stepped on the court,” King said. “Overall, a very good season.”

Davidson, a standout during Coupeville’s playoff run, capped her junior season with a team-high five points and eight rebounds.

Ema Smith finished with five points and three boards, while Chelsea Prescott netted a free throw to round out the scoring.

Bringing her prep hardwood career to a close Thursday, Smith moved past two more former Wolf greats on the career scoring list.

Finishing with 228 points, she leapfrogs Annette Jameson (223) and Mikayla Elfrank (227) to finish as the #48 scorer in program history, which stretches back to 1974.

Thursday’s game was the final one for Smith and fellow CHS seniors Nicole Laxton, a hard worker who always brought great energy to the floor, and four-year varsity vet Lindsey Roberts.

Roberts, who missed two complete games and most of a third due to a college visit and a late-season finger injury, still topped Coupeville in scoring for a second-straight season.

A player who saw quality minutes at the varsity level from day one of her freshman season, she exits with 448 points, leaving her tied with Vanessa Davis for #18 on the career chart.

While all three seniors will be missed, the cupboard isn’t bare for David King and JV coach/wife Amy, who can bring back nine of the 12 players who saw varsity floor time.

Point guard Scout Smith, now the leading active scorer for the girls program with 142 points across two varsity seasons, is one of four juniors on the team, along with Davidson, Avalon Renninger, and Tia Wurzrainer.

Sophomores Prescott and Mollie Bailey and freshmen Ja’Kenya Hoskins, Izzy Wells, and Anya Leavell should all return as well.

 

Final season scoring statistics:

Lindsey Roberts – 150
Ema Smith
– 134
Chelsea Prescott
– 101
Scout Smith
– 86
Avalon Renninger
– 56
Hannah Davidson
– 31
Tia Wurzrainer
– 18
Nicole Laxton
– 15
Izzy Wells
– 11
Mollie Bailey
– 8
Ja’Kenya Hoskins
– 5
Anya Leavell
– 4

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Lindsey Roberts (left) and Ema Smith were two of the three Wolf hoops stars honored Tuesday on Senior Night. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It didn’t go the way they might have hoped.

Run ragged Tuesday by a King’s team with state title aspirations, the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team got crunched on Senior Night.

Even on an evening when their six-foot freshman prodigy wasn’t at the top of her game, the visiting Knights had an answer for everything the Wolves tried, exiting the gym with a 59-11 win.

The loss, coming after Coupeville put up its fewest points in any game this season, drops CHS to 5-4 in North Sound Conference play, 7-9 overall.

The Wolves, who are guaranteed to be the #3 seed from their league when the double-elimination district playoffs start Feb. 4, close the regular season Friday at Granite Falls.

Things got off to a nice start Tuesday when Coupeville honored seniors Nicole Laxton, Lindsey Roberts, and Ema Smith before tip-off.

After the ball was tossed up in the air, however, things got much tougher.

King’s features frosh phenom Jada Wynn, who played in the junior NBA world tournament before attending a single day of high school.

On this night, though, she took a back seat, picking up four fouls, including an offensive charge after Wolf freshman Ja’Kenya Hoskins stood her ground, and scored “just” 10 points.

The Knights, a deep, talented, polished team, merely shrugged, with sophomores Claire Gallagher and Mia Flor tossing in 17 and 12 respectively.

Coupeville, as a team, didn’t crack double digits until the next-to-last play of the third quarter, then went scoreless in the fourth.

Down 8-0 in the early going, but dodging bullets as King’s had some shooting issues of its own, at least for a bit, the Wolves finally got on the scoreboard six minutes into the game.

The first bucket came courtesy Ema Smith, and it gave her 201 points for her prep career, making her just the 55th Wolf girl to top that mark since the modern program began in 1974.

Unfortunately for CHS, that was its only basket of any kind for quite a bit.

By the time Hannah Davidson swooped in, snatched a rebound and went back up strong for a second-chance bucket, the game was 21-2 in favor of King’s and slipping away quickly.

To make sure to drive the point home, the Knights followed up Davidson’s put-back by nailing back-to-back three-balls, two of the eight treys they hit on the evening.

A 27-7 halftime deficit ballooned badly after the halftime break, as King’s, continuing to play with its customary take-no-prisoners style, went on a 25-4 romp in the third.

Two buckets from Roberts, one off a nice dish by Scout Smith, gave CHS fans some brief respite, but, ultimately, it was a game the Wolves will do well to quickly scrub from their brain pans.

But, just because it was a one-sided affair doesn’t mean there weren’t a few bright spots.

Coupeville coach David King praised the play of Roberts, who had to fight through a constant wave of defenders, as well as Davidson’s work on the boards, and defensive dynamo Tia Wurzrainer’s scrappiness while still contesting passes in the late going.

Roberts finished with four points Tuesday, lifting her to 422 for her career.

She needs just two more buckets to pass Cassidi Rosenkrance (423), Mika Hosek (424), and Sarah Powell (425) and become the #20 scorer in program history.

Chelsea Prescott added three free-throws in support of Roberts, with Davidson and Ema Smith providing the night’s other buckets.

Roberts had a team-best eight rebounds, Avalon Renninger yanked down five boards and doled out three assists, with Scout Smith collecting five boards, two blocks and a steal.

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Mollie Bailey slapped home a pair of buckets Tuesday as the Coupeville JV girls tangled with powerful King’s. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a brawl, then it was a blowout.

The Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad stood tall for nine minutes Tuesday, pushing visiting King’s to the brink.

Then, the Knights remembered they have a roster stocked full of AAU vets with dreams of playing college ball, and they reverted to form, exploding on separate runs of 15-0, 20-0, and 12-0.

What was a 10-9 CHS lead after Morgan Stevens rained down a fall-away jumper to open the second quarter turned into a 58-23 King’s win, and you can’t say it wasn’t expected.

The Knights second squad is a shiny 11-4 this season, having lost only to 3A and 4A schools and one of the state’s premier 1A schools, Cashmere.

But, while the Wolves fell to 4-3 in North Sound Conference play, 8-7 overall, heading into their season finale Friday at Granite Falls, they made some inroads.

The 23 points is the most the King’s JV has surrendered to a conference foe this season, and is a solid nine-point improvement from the first time the schools met, a 49-14 Knights win.

Coupeville came out aggressively Tuesday, using inspired rebounding from Ja’Kenya Hoskins to force King’s to up its game.

Early buckets from Mollie Bailey, off a sweet feed from Anya Leavell, and Hoskins, off of an offensive rebound, staked the Wolves to a 4-2 lead, the first of four positive scores for CHS.

Izzy Wells drained a put-back after snagging a rebound to make it 6-5, Abby Mulholland twirled in a jumper off a pass from Audrianna Shaw to put Coupeville up 8-7, then Stevens netted her bucket off a Leavell set-up pass.

The action was crisp, the Wolves were scrambling for loose balls and caroms, and anything seemed possible.

And then death came from above.

King’s dropped in a trio of three-balls, part of the seven it would hit in the game, and, in the blink of an eye, a 15-0 run had changed everything.

Mulholland did her best to get the Wolves back into the flow, netting back-to-back jumpers, with the second bucket coming of yet another superb pass from Leavell, but King’s wasn’t having it.

Scoring the final eight points of the half, then 24 of the first 26 after the break, the visitors put the game far out of reach.

From the final three minutes of the second quarter until the last half of the fourth, Coupeville could only hit one single, solitary shot, though it was a beautiful, crowd-pleasing jumper from hard-working freshman Alana Mihill.

While the rim was unforgiving, the Wolves never stopped working, and they garnered some respect from their foes at the end, closing the game on a 7-2 surge.

Wells went off for five of her team-high seven points during that part of the game, while Bailey added an artful layup.

Mulholland tossed in six points to back Wells, with Bailey (4), Mihill (2), Stevens (2), and Hoskins (2) also scoring.

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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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