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Kierra Thayer rumbled on both ends of the floor as an 8th grader. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

They closed with a vengeance.

Capping a season of huge improvement, the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball teams went basket for basket with their next door neighbors Thursday in Langley.

The Wolf varsity, led by the red-hot long-distance shooting of Haylee Armstrong, pushed the Cougars hard, before being nipped 21-19 in what coaches from both schools termed “their best game so far.”

Haylee hit a couple of big threes, and our defense was nearly flawless, keeping South Whidbey from setting up an offense the majority of the game,” said Coupeville coach Kassie O’Neil.

Haylee Armstrong led all Coupeville Middle School players in scoring this season.

“The girls came out ready to play and kept up the same energy throughout the entire game,” O’Neil said.

“I think both of our teams brought our A-games and it was great to see two similar teams going head-to-head.”

While Armstrong was droppin’ bombs from the parking lot, Kierra Thayer anchored the Wolf defense.

Kierra had a few HUGE stuffs, denying the shooters any time they tried to get a shot up past her,” O’Neil said. “And she was there to rebound on both ends of the court.

“Her hustle during this game was the best I’ve seen from her this season.”

While Coupeville couldn’t quite nab the season-ending victory, O’Neil still came away flushed with pride in her young players.

“It was the best ending for our season. I’m so proud of these girls and the gains they made in such a short amount of time,” she said.

“I think we accomplished our big goals — they gained foundational skills, learned what it means to turn a team into family, and fostered a love for the game.”

A former Coupeville hoops star who was known for knocking down big shots at crunch time, O’Neil was pleased with a lot of what she saw in her first season being in charge.

“If I’m lucky enough to continue coaching Wolves hoops, I’ll be happy to see these girls back on the court for another couple of seasons,” she said. “It’s been a blast to witness their growth and joy, playing the sport I love.”

O’Neil’s fellow coach, Kristina Forbes, had a similar experience in her first go-round with the Wolf JV, which fell 46-11 at Langley.

“We had one main goal and that was to just play better than we did the first we played South Whidbey,” she said. “We accomplished that. These girls played their hearts out and never gave up!”

Willow Leedy-Bonifas is a fireball on the floor.

Forbes gave her whole team props, with a special shout-out for feisty guard Willow Leedy-Bonifas.

“She was not afraid to get in the face of her opponent and try for the steals!” Forbes said with a big smile.

Coupeville’s second squad was almost entirely made up of players who were brand new to competitive basketball, but they held up well against much more experienced teams such as King’s, Sultan, and Langley.

“This season was full of learning to cope with emotions, and to develop skills, bonding with their teammates and learning to trust each other on the court,” Forbes said.

“My girls have come so far from the beginning of the season till the end.

“By last night’s game the nerves seemed to be distant and all that beamed through them was determination.

“Overall, I hope that my girls had a fun season and will plan to come out next year.”

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Game one is in the books. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

New season, new pics.

The Coupeville Middle School girls basketball program kicked off the 2022 campaign Thursday against visiting Langley, offering up two high-energy games.

Wandering the baseline, photo whiz kid John Fisken snapped the pics seen above and below.

But what you see here is just the beginning.

To see everything he shot, and possibly purchase some glossies for the grandparents in Gresham, pop over to:

 

Coupeville:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2021-2022/MSGBB-2022-03-03-vs-South-Whidbey/

 

Langley:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/South-Whidbey-HS/MSGBB-2022-03-03-SW-at-Coupeville/

Liza Zustiak (4) runs interference as Haylee Armstrong scans the defense.

The stands were crammed on opening night.

Adeline Maynes (16) and Chelsi Stevens (17) offer up some lock-down defense.

Kierra Thayer denies you.

Willow Leedy-Bonifas pushes the ball up-floor.

Tenley Stuurmans slices to the hoop.

The Wolf bench gets rowdy.

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Kierra Thayer made a strong debut for Coupeville Middle School Thursday. (Photo courtesy Will Thayer)

Every journey needs a first step.

Thursday afternoon, a day after the Coupeville High School boys basketball team completed a season for the ages with a state tourney rumble in Spokane, the campus back home was fairly quiet.

Unless you were camped out in the middle school gym for the CMS girls hoops opener, which pitted the scrappy Wolves against their archrivals from Langley.

While the visiting Cougars made off with two wins, after MUCH screaming, Coupeville’s young guns, many of whom were making their competitive hoops debut, showed great promise.

“It’ll be great to see where this group is, how much they improve, a few years down the road,” said one Wolf dad, perfectly capturing the mood in a gym crammed with bodies from one end to the other.

How the day played out:

 

JV: 

A team comprised largely of 6th graders will present new coach Kristina Forbes with a lot of teaching moments, as the Wolves look to shape their skills.

While CMS fell 46-5, it played Langley nearly even in the third quarter, and showed flashes of genuine potential throughout the afternoon.

Now, if we could just get the refs in mid-season form … as it took them a solid two minutes and 38 seconds of action to realize Coupeville was playing with six girls on the floor.

Neither guy in the striped shirts counted the players before tipoff, apparently.

After that, the constant roar which hung in the gym air — radiating from two packs of hyped-up middle school girls going nicely berserk — made communication hard.

While the Wolves failed to score in the opening frame, they busted through when Rhylin Price knocked down a second-quarter free throw.

Coupeville’s other buckets came from Adeline Maynes, who hit a jumper in the paint, and Rosie Lay, who flipped the net with a high, arcing shot while being triple-teamed.

Laken Simpson hit the boards hard for the Wolves, while Willow Leedy-Bonifas had fast fingers on defense, poking balls free several times.

Lexis Drake, Ava Lucero, Elyse White, and Chelsi Stevens rounded out the active roster for game one, all getting valuable floor time as they begin their new journey.

 

Varsity:

Coupeville’s top squad — led by first-year coach Kassie O’Neil, herself a former Wolf hoops sensation — was competitive from start to finish in a 29-14 loss.

Langley, which won the rebounding war most of the game, used second, third, and fourth attempts to build an early lead and then hold on late.

Trailing 8-0, the Wolves broke through thanks to Kierra Thayer, who came roaring off the bench ready to inflict major damage on the Cougars.

After banking home a pair of free throws, with each shot kissing the glass before plopping through the net, the 8th grader rolled hard to the hoop for a bucket to cut the deficit back to 8-4 at the first break.

Unfortunately for CMS, Langley put together its best run in the second frame, using a 10-2 surge to largely put the game on lock-down.

Wolf point guard Tenley Stuurmans, the only 6th grader to start for the varsity, threw down Coupeville’s lone second quarter bucket.

Dodging elbows and hands to the face much of the game, the younger sister of CHS hoops star Lyla Stuurmans showed the same feistiness on defense that is a trademark of her older sibling.

Taking names and plotting revenge for future games, Tenley opened the third quarter with a sprint from end-to-end, converting a turnover into a breakaway bucket.

After that, much of the offense flowed through Thayer, who has height, speed, and an ability to go hard to the hoop with both hands.

Which should intrigue any CHS coaches scouting Wolves who will move up next season.

Another player to watch is 7th grader Haylee Armstrong, who was channeling Mia Littlejohn with her headband and the extra lil’ spicy skip in her step while dribbling.

Like that former Wolf, who tore up the CHS court for three years, her reincarnation has a bit of a rumble, a touch of New Jersey playground lingering in her soul.

Or so I think.

Armstrong has a way to go to reach the same heights Littlejohn did, certainly, but first impressions are very promising.

Thayer paced the Wolves with eight points in her CMS debut, while Stuurmans banked in four and Armstrong tickled the twines on a pair of free throws.

The charity stripe was one place where Coupeville clearly had the advantage, hitting four of five attempts while Langley finished just 1-8.

Brynn Parker, Liza Zustiak, Valeria de Jesus Merino, Capri Anter, Lucero, and Drake also saw floor time for CMS, which plays its next three games on the road.

The Wolves kick off that series of bus trips Tuesday, Mar. 8 with a trek to Northshore Christian Academy.

Coupeville’s next home game is not until Mar. 17, when King’s visits Whidbey.

 

Special Thanks:

Big props to Wolf players Isabella de Souza Oliveira and Sydney Van Dyke, who were running the camera, taping the game for their coaches.

In between providing frequent vocal support for their teammates and enjoying tasty cupcakes, the duo tracked down info for me, tying together uniform numbers with names.

Since I entered the gym being able to visually ID about five of these still fairly new Wolf athletes, de Souza Oliveira and Van Dyke were a huge help.

It’s appreciated, ladies.

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Dylan Robinett tallied his first points of the basketball season Wednesday afternoon. (Jackie Saia photo)

Strong to the end.

Playing their next-to-last games Wednesday, the Coupeville Middle School boys basketball teams put on a show in Langley.

The Wolf varsity won, completing a home-and-away season sweep of the Cougars, while the Coupeville JV played its best game of the season.

How the day played out:

 

Varsity:

Camden Glover has been on a tear of late, and the Wolf 8th grader remained red-hot as he spurred his squad to a 44-26 win.

The victory lifts Coupeville to 3-4 heading into its finale Thursday at King’s.

When the Wolves arrive in Shoreline, they’ll be featuring Glover, who has been a wrecking ball unleashed while dropping 19, 20, and 20 points across his last three games.

Wednesday, Stevie Glover’s eldest child poured in seven of his points in the second quarter, while saving the best for last, with an eight-point rampage in the game’s final frame.

Chase Anderson banked in eight points in support of Camden, with Aiden O’Neill kissin’ the glass for seven.

Jayden McManus (7) and Malachi Somes (2) rounded out the offense, with Easton Green helping anchor the Wolf defense.

 

JV:

You’re killing me, Smalls. You’re killing me.

And in this case, Smalls is an unnamed Langley 6th grader who will never, ever replace June Mazdra as Whidbey Island’s go-to scorekeeper.

Cause he’s the dude who managed to record less than 50% of Coupeville’s points on the day the Wolves very-green second unit put together its best offensive showing of the season.

It’s like you’re driving a stake through my freakin’ stat-obsessed heart, Smalls!!

Anyways.

Bouncing back from a rough outing against Langley back in the season opener, Coupeville made coach Jon Roberts sit up and take notice, pushing the Cougars to the wire in a 26-23 loss.

“They played lights out,” said the veteran roundball sage. “Bench was going nuts!”

Now, we’d love to tell you where all 23 of those Coupeville points came from. But we can’t, thanks to Smalls.

Perhaps he was daydreaming about Keanu Reeves going airborne once again, what with a new Matrix movie arriving in just seven days.

In that case, I understand. Kinda.

What there was of a “book” shows Riley Lawless and Carson Grove banging away for four points apiece, and Dylan Robinett droppin’ in his first bucket of the season.

Which is 10 points, with 13 points forever lost to the wind.

Dang it, Smalls, you had one job. And you did not understand the assignment.

Our mystery pencil scratcher — who didn’t do a whole lot of scratching — did record who saw floor time.

My bet? Some of them probably scored, too.

For now, props to Captain Teuscher, Jacob Schooley, Jonah WeylBeckett GreenMax OhmeGeorge SpearMatthew Kuzma, Mahkai Myles, Jackson Waterbury, Ethan Walling, Joshua Stockdale, and Kenny Jacobsen.

May you find a more-prepared scorekeeper Thursday in Shoreline.

 

Plot twist!!:

After a review of the book by many people, it appears all 23 points may be present.

Just placed in unusual spots.

Smalls, dealing with 17 Wolf players and only 15 slots in the book, put Mahkai Myles and Jacob Schooley “off the board,” and their buckets are drifting in a different time zone.

Also, what seemed like a smudge at first may be a bucket for George Spear.

Having looked at a blown-up version of the book, I still disagree with there being two buckets down by Schooley’s name, but, perhaps I just need better glasses.

I await our next go-around, Smalls. I may have underestimated your powers.

The book in question.

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Teagan Calkins is among the CMS girls likely to play basketball this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net) 

They don’t have coaches (yet), but they do have a schedule.

Coupeville Middle School girls basketball starts practice Monday, Jan. 24, with an eight-game season set to run Feb. 10-Mar. 10.

The sport is open to students in grades six through eight.

And, like the CMS boys — who wrap their season this week — makeup of teams will be based on talent and not age.

 

The schedule as of today, with all home games tipping at 3:15 PM:

Thurs-Feb. 10 — South Whidbey
Tues-Feb. 15 — @Northshore Christian
Thurs-Feb. 17 — @Sultan
Tues-Feb. 22 — @Granite Falls
Thur-Feb. 24 — King’s
Tues-Mar. 1 — Lakewood
Tues-Mar. 8 — Sultan
Thur-Mar. 10 — @South Whidbey

 

To apply for one of the coaching positions, pop over to:

https://www.applitrack.com/coupeville/onlineapp/default.aspx?all=1

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