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Maddie Georges netted six points Tuesday, including a key pair of free throws, as Coupeville’s 8th graders completed a three-game sweep of Langley. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

You win some, you lose some.

The action was fast and furious on the hardwood Tuesday in Langley, with Coupeville Middle School’s varsity girls basketball squads earning a split against their arch-rivals.

The Wolf 8th graders remained perfect with a narrow victory, while the CMS 7th graders took their game to the final buzzer, only to fall on the final shot.

How the day played out:

 

8th grade varsity:

Still perfect, and still the best team on Whidbey.

Holding on down the stretch, while enjoying a sizable advantage at the free throw line, Coupeville held off their hosts 39-34.

The win gives the Wolves a three-game sweep of the Cougars, while lifting CMS to 5-0 on the season.

Each of the three contests the Island rivals played had a different rhythm.

In the first one, Coupeville had to roar from behind and erase a double-digits deficit for the win.

Second time out, the Wolves blew Langley off the floor, romping to a lopsided victory.

The final match-up was a nail-biter, but one in which CMS held the advantage from start to finish.

Powered by a big three-ball from Alita Blouin, the Wolves went to the first break up 6-5.

After that, it was time for Carolyn Lhamon to shine, as the Wolf post powerhouse dropped in 11 of her game-high 12 points across the final three quarters.

The teams battled through a tight second quarter, with CMS clinging to a 14-13 lead at the half, but the Wolves slowly pulled away after the break.

Four points from Lhamon and three from Ryanne Knoblich keyed a 13-10 surge in the third, before Lhamon and Nezi Keiper each tossed in three during a taut 12-11 fourth frame.

With the clock running down, and Langley still just a three-ball away from forcing overtime, Maddie Georges iced the game.

Striding to the free throw line with confidence in every step, Mad Dog knocked down a pair of free throw attempts, giving CMS a 10-2 advantage on successful charity shots, and that was that.

Lhamon paced the Wolves with 12, while Keiper and Blouin backed her up with seven points apiece.

Georges (6), Knoblich (3), Gwen Gustafson (2), and Hayley Fielder (2) rounded out the scoring attack, with Jill Prince and Jordyn Rogers chipping in with hustle on defense.

 

7th grade varsity:

One of the odder games in recent memory, as South Whidbey went scoreless until the third quarter, only to win 8-6 with a basket in the final seconds.

The loss drops Coupeville to 2-4 on the season, and gives the Island rivals a split of their two-game season series.

And no, you didn’t read that score wrong.

After four quarters and 28 minutes of floor time, the teams really did combine for a meager 14 points.

“Really good defense was played,” CMS coach Megan Smith said with a laugh. “It was a very close game. The girls played very hard and well, but South Whidbey just beat us at the end and scored at the buzzer.”

Coupeville’s defense was smothering in the first half, but the Wolves could only generate a pair of buckets, both off of the fingertips of Brionna Blouin, and led 4-0 at the half.

Then CMS went cold, while South Whidbey got slightly (very slightly) warmer, slicing the lead down to 4-2 heading into the final quarter.

After that, things went bonkers (sorta) on the offensive side of the ball, with the squads scoring more points in the fourth quarter than in the first three combined.

Blouin hit another bucket, giving her 65 points for the season, best by any CMS girl in either grade, but the Cougars knotted things up, then pushed in the winning basket as time ran down.

Lauren Marrs, Allison Nastali, Skylar Parker, Reese Wilkinson, Erica McGrath, Kayla Arnold, Kaitlyn Leavell, and Desi Ramirez also saw floor time for the Wolves.

 

7th/8th grade JV:

Coupeville got balanced scoring, with eight players etching their names in the book, but the Wolves fell 26-18.

The loss drops the JV to 2-4 on the season.

Other than a brief defensive lapse in the second quarter, the game was a taut one, with Langley up 6-4 at the first break, and the second half a 10-10 stalemate.

The deciding factor was the second frame, where the Cougars surged to a 10-4 advantage.

Claire Mayne rattled the rims for four points to pace the Wolves, while Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson netted three.

Cristina McGrath (2), Jessenia Camarena (2), Jill Prince (2), Melanie Navarro (2), Adrian Burrows (2), and Trinity McGee (1) also scored, while Ava Mitten, Jackie Contreras, Karyme Castro, Jesse McMahon, Jordyn Rogers, and Abigail Ramirez all saw playing time.

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Ryanne Knoblich, pulling down a rebound in an earlier game, was one of six 8th grade varsity players to score Wednesday in a Coupeville win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The offense was hot. The defense was impeccable. The result was magical.

Shutting down rival Langley in style Wednesday, the Coupeville Middle School 8th grade varsity girls basketball team rolled to a 30-20 win on the road, improving to a flawless 4-0 on the season.

Unlike the first time these Island rivals met, when the Wolves had to storm from behind to net the victory, Wednesday’s match-up was much more of a blowout.

Up 16-9 after the first quarter, Coupeville clamped down and shut-out Langley in both the second and third quarters.

The Cougars missed all six of their free throw attempts across the 14-minute span of play, and every single, stinkin’ field goal attempt they lofted skyward refused to drop.

While Coupeville’s own offense slowed a bit in the middle of the game, it still used mirror-image 6-0 runs in the second and third to stretch the lead out to 28-9.

Langley eked out a measure of redemption in the fourth, using an 11-2 surge to make the final result on the scoreboard seem a bit more palatable.

But just a bit.

With King’s and Northshore Christian not playing 8th grade basketball this season, Coupeville is scrambling to fill out its schedule, and will face Langley a third time Mar. 5.

The older Wolves still won’t get a full schedule, playing nine games to the 10 that the CMS 7th grade varsity has planned, but the drive for a perfect season continues.

A huge part of the success that Wolf coach Alex Evans and his squad are enjoying comes from his team’s ability to hit you a million different ways.

Nezi Keiper and Carolyn Lhamon worked the paint like pros Wednesday, both tossing in a game-high eight points, while Wolf guards Maddie Georges (6) and Alita Blouin (4) scorched Langley from outside.

On the season, Keiper (32), Lhamon (31), and Georges (30) form a wicked three-pronged scoring attack.

Ryanne Knoblich and Gwen Gustafson each knocked down a bucket Wednesday, while Hayley Fielder and Jill Prince chipped in with defense and hustle.

 

8th grade JV falls:

Claire Mayne netted all of Coupeville’s points, but the Wolves went down 14-4 in a two-quarter game.

The loss snaps a two-game winning streak for the JV, leaving them at 2-3 on the season.

Things stayed fairly close in a 6-2 first quarter, but Langley pulled away for the win with a solid second quarter.

Trinity McGee, Cristina McGrath, Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson, Abigail Ramirez, Jessenia Camarena, Karyme Castro, Adrian Burrows, Melanie Navarro, and Prince also saw floor time.

 

No 7th grade game:

Coupeville’s youngest players had the day off, as Wednesday’s games were added to bolster a depleted 8th grade schedule.

The 7th graders, who sit at 2-3, kick off the second half of the season Mar. 5, when all of Coupeville’s teams return to Langley.

After that comes a road trip to Lakewood (Mar. 6), home games against Lakewood (Mar. 12) and Sultan (Mar. 14), and, finally, a visit to Granite Falls (Mar. 19).

All three CMS squads will play in the final five match-ups.

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“Mad Dog” on the prowl. Maddie Georges, seen here last season, scored nine of her 14 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday as the CMS 8th graders roared back to stun visiting Langley. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

For teams which hadn’t been in a gym for awhile, they played pretty darn good.

Finally hosting their season openers Wednesday, after snow and ice caused numerous cancelled games and practices, both Coupeville Middle School varsity girls basketball teams rallied to overcome deficits and KO visiting Langley.

How the afternoon played out:

 

8th grade varsity:

If you left early, the final score might surprise you.

Down by 15 points in the second quarter, and still trailing by eight midway through the fourth, Coupeville closed the game on a 15-1 run to stun Langley 35-29.

Call it good coaching by Alex Evans, or a stubborn desire to win ingrained in battle-hardened players like his lil’ sister, Maddie Georges, who scored nine of her 14 points in the final eight minutes.

Either way, a message was sent – we will beat you, today, tomorrow, any day, any way.

In the early moments of the game, however, it might have seemed like a long shot, as the visitors came out ramped up.

Back-to-back three-balls, paired up with two nice put-backs off of offensive rebounds by Morgan Batchelor sent Langley on a 14-0 run in the first quarter.

That erased an early 3-2 Wolf advantage, keyed by Alita Blouin feeding Nezi Keiper for a bang-bang bucket, and sent a shiver through Wolf fans jammed into a sweaty gym.

Keiper finally broke the run, rolling hard to the hoop for a bucket, this time on a pass from Hayley Fiedler, but the damage was done.

It momentarily got worse in the second quarter, as the Cougars stretched their lead all the way out to 20-5.

It was then the Wolves began to clamp down on defense, forcing miss after miss, and slowly, ever so surely, crawling their way back into the game.

Two buckets from Carolyn Lhamon, packaged around the low-to-the-ground Blouin sneaking through the big trees to slap home a layup, pulled CMS back within 20-11 at the half.

Switching gears, the Wolves, who had hit just a single free throw in the first half, suddenly started forcing play, driving repeatedly at the hoop and daring the Cougars to whack them.

It worked, and how, as Coupeville repeatedly stopped the clock, thanks to suddenly-consistent referee whistles, then drained their freebies – hitting 14 charity shots down the stretch.

But while they got as close as five points early in the fourth, the Wolves couldn’t seem to get over the hump.

Langley notched a freebie of its own, then converted another offensive rebound into a bucket, and seemed to be set, up 28-20.

To which “Mad Dog” said, “Not in my gym.”

A Georges free throw, followed by big buckets in the paint from Keiper and Lhamon, started the game-changing 15-1 run, and, once it started, there was nowhere to hide for the Cougars.

Langley couldn’t hit a single field goal over the final six minutes-plus of the game, as its ball-handlers were hounded relentlessly by Georges, Blouin, and Gwen Gustafson.

If anything got past the pesky trio, Wolf enforcers Lhamon and Keiper promptly blew it right back out of the paint, making Evans do a happy dance in his coach’s box.

A steal and breakaway bucket by Georges was huge, then the Wolves clinched the game at the line, scoring the final eight points on charity shots.

Georges drained five of those, while Gustafson rippled the net for two, and Keiper capped things by splashing home a final heave.

Coupeville spread its offense out, getting points from six of nine players.

With Georges going off for 14, Keiper (9) and Lhamon (7) combined for 16.

Blouin (2), Gustafson (2), and Ryanne Knoblich (1) rounded out the attack, with Fiedler, Jordyn Rogers, and Jill Prince also seeing key floor time.

 

7th/8th JV:

Coupeville’s lone loss on opening day came down to the wire, with Langley slipping home the tying and winning buckets in the final moments to claim a 16-14 win.

A game which saw 16 points scored in the opening quarter, including a bucket which dropped through at the buzzer, later turned into a defensive war of attrition.

Adrian Burrows had the hot hand early for the Wolves, banking home a pair of jumpers, including one immediately after snatching the ball off a successful opening tip by Jessenia Camarena.

Toss in a power move down low for a bucket by the deceptively-strong Ryanne Knoblich and a sideline jumper from Camarena, and CMS was in control in the first eight minutes.

The play of the quarter, and maybe the game, came when an inbound pass from under the Wolf basket went long, way long, forcing Trinity McGee to race almost the length of the court to corral the wayward missile.

Saving the runaway ball a few steps from going out of bounds at the other end of the court, she spun, charged back up the right side, then slashed through the backpedaling defenders.

McGee’s hand shot skyward, the ball slapped glass and then happily plunked through the net, silencing the Langley cheering section in a flash.

The Cougar faithful did find something to cheer for however, as one of their guards desperation-heaved the ball skywards while rolling under her bucket, beating the odds and the buzzer.

That cut the margin back to 10-6, and Langley eventually knotted things up at 12-12 by the time the two squads headed to the halftime locker room.

While the first half featured some sterling baskets and a fair amount of offense, neither team could hit much of anything after the break.

McGee slapped home the only bucket of the third quarter, on a rolling run at the basket, but the Wolves went scoreless in the fourth.

Langley couldn’t do much better, failing to score for the first 13 minutes of the 16-minute second half.

But, when it mattered, the Cougars threw up a pair of prayers to the basketball gods, and had them answered.

The first one tied the game up with three minutes to play, and the second one a minute later turned out to be the game-winner.

Burrows and McGee paced the Wolf attack with four points apiece, while Knoblich, Jordyn Rogers, and Camarena added a bucket each.

Jill Prince, Claire Mayne, Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson, Abigail Ramirez, Melanie Navarro, Jesse Ross-McMahon and Cristina McGrath rounded out the roster, with Mayne doing especially well as a plucky point guard.

 

7th grade varsity:

Brionna Blouin came to play.

Making her middle school debut, the SWISH-seasoned hoops gunner rattled the rim for 14 points, including seven in a decisive fourth quarter, as Coupeville rallied for an 18-16 win.

Blouin carried the Wolf offense in the first half, raining down a three-ball en route to outscoring Langley 7-6 by herself.

A big blocked shot from Kayla Arnold in the late moments of the half kept the visitors on their heels, but Langley re-found its groove in the third quarter.

Three straight buckets to open the second half staked the Cougars to their biggest lead of the night at 12-7, but then Blouin’s teammates came up big time.

Reese Wilkinson, who was a force on the boards all game, knocked down a beautiful bank shot from the top of the key to start things.

Hot on her heels came Arnold, who pulled in a nice pass from Wilkinson, which split a pair of defenders, then lofted in a short jumper in the paint.

Langley, desperate for some good news, hit a pull-up jumper to stretch the lead back out to 14-11 heading into the fourth, but then it was Blouin time.

She pulled off the same move on back-to-back trips down court, faking her defender out of her shoes before spinning around the corner for a high, arching layup.

Then, with the Wolves back in the lead, Blouin rained down her second three-ball of the game, but this time she banked the ball off the glass while shooting from a seemingly impossible angle.

That crushed Langley’s spirit enough that, even after netting a late bucket to cut the lead to two, the Cougars failed to foul Blouin as the final seconds of the clock ticked away and she dribbled in place.

Along with the three Wolves who scored, Allison Nastali, Desi Ramirez, Ava Mitten, Jackie Contreras, Skylar Parker, and Erica McGrath rounded out the opening day roster for coach Megan Smith.

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William Davidson netted three points Tuesday as the Coupeville 7th grade basketball team blasted arch-rival South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a beautiful day for a rivalry game.

Dodging the rain Tuesday, the Coupeville Middle School boys basketball teams trekked down-Island to face South Whidbey for the only time this season, returning with a split of the varsity games.

How things played out:

 

7th grade varsity:

This one was over after just one quarter, as Coupeville bolted out to a 17-6 lead en route to a run-away 32-15 win.

The victory lifts CMS to 3-6 heading into its season finale Thursday at home against Granite Falls.

The early run was sparked by an unexpected offensive explosion from Nick Guay.

The Wolf guard, who had rattled home five points across the first eight games, torched the nets Tuesday for seven in just the first quarter.

With five other Coupeville players adding a bucket apiece in the opening frame, Greg White’s scrappy band of marauders set Langley back on its heels, and never let up.

While the offense cooled off a bit after that, the Wolves continued to add to their lead up until the final buzzer.

Logan Downes topped Coupeville with eight points, running his season scoring total to a crisp 100, while Guay (7), Zane Oldenstadt (6), Cole White (4), Ryan Blouin (4) and William Davidson (3) also scored.

 

7th grade JV:

A lack of offense stifled Wolf hopes, as they fell 15-2 in a two-quarter game.

Mikey Robinett knocked down Coupeville’s lone bucket, which came after a scoreless opening frame for he and his teammates.

Quinten Pilgrim, Timothy Nitta, Andrew Williams, Chris Villarreal, Alex Clark and Justin Wilkinson rounded out the Wolf roster.

 

8th grade varsity:

The Alex & Alex combo was clickin’ for Coupeville, but it wasn’t enough.

Despite 11 points from Alex Murdy and 10 rebounds from Alex Wasik, the Wolves fell 44-28 and drop to 1-8 on the season.

“The guys played well,” said CMS coach Dante Mitchell. “We had a little comeback and brought the deficit down to like 13 but just couldn’t pull thru.

Alex Wasik was a monster for us on rebounds!”

Wasik and Dominic Coffman each kicked in five points apiece, with Coffman draining a three-ball, in support of Murdy.

Levi Pulliam netted four, Ty Hamilton banked in two, Kevin Partida split the net for a free throw and Jesse Wooten and Josh Upchurch also saw floor time for the Wolves.

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CMS 8th grader Lucy Tenore, seen here in an earlier match, delivered a big-time performance Wednesday against Langley. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One court, four matches, 10 sets, 255 minutes of sitting on the hardest bleachers in all of creation, 393 points, 12,000 screams and a million hustle plays.

Wednesday offered many things for middle school volleyball fans, from an endurance test for our rumps (we all lost…) to a chance to watch mostly-friendly Island rivals go toe-to-toe.

And while visiting Langley came away with better results, winning three of four matches, the hometown Coupeville spiker squads pulled off their share of dazzling plays and grace under fire.

The matches, in the order they were played:

 

8th grade varsity:

The second-closest match of the day, as CMS pushed Langley to three sets, before falling 25-16, 22-25, 25-8.

Coupeville got big-time performances from Lucy Tenore and Alita Blouin, among others, while Vivian Farris dropped the single most-beautiful shot of the entire afternoon right at crunch time, but the Cougars ultimately had too much power and too much precision.

Leading the way for the visitors was Morgan Batchelor, who could already be starting for a lot of high school teams even if she’s not, technically, in high school.

Unleashing spikes with a power rarely seen at the middle school level, the Langley terror dominated at the net and the service stripe, with her play reminiscent of former Coupeville star Sarah Mouw. And that’s a major compliment.

While Wolf fans say silent prayers Batchelor and her family decide to move up-Island to Cow Town for her high school days (hey, I can dream…), they can appreciate her already well-rounded game, even as her blasts left all of us a bit shell-shocked.

Tenore responded with some of her own power in the opening set, rifling several winners, while Blouin and Gwen Gustafson put together nice runs at the service stripe.

CMS fought back from five down to knot things up at 12-12, only to have Batchelor crush all the air out of the ball with a set-swinging kill which tore off a chunk of the back line.

That sparked a 13-4 run to close the set by Langley, and could have deflated all of Coupeville’s will.

Instead, the Wolves flashed some nice grit, taking a back-and-forth brawl that raged through much of the second set.

Taygin Jump and Gustafson dropped back-to-back daggers, lofting sideways shots which pierced the Langley defense, Maddie Georges and Ryanne Knoblich were strong on serve, while Blouin scraped shot after shot off the floor.

With the set tied at 22-22, CMS needed a hero, and Farris was ready.

The two teams kept the ball hoppin’ during an intense rally, with the Cougars appearing to have a put-away to go ahead.

Instead, Farris, sliding in from the side, dropped a sweet, and perfectly-placed, shot up and over her shoulder.

The ball kissed the top of the net, hung in air for an eternity, then dropped like an anvil on Langley’s side, bouncing away for an unexpected winner as all the Wolves and Cougars screamed in unison.

Coupeville seized the momentum, with Tenore blasting a serve off of a Langley player’s face, and a point later, the match was headed to a third and final set.

While the last frame went too quickly, and in the wrong direction, for the Wolves, they did get a beauty of a fingertip block from Tenore, a great one-armed hustle save from Hayley Fiedler and a note-perfect jump tip from the appropriately-named Jump.

 

8th grade JV:

The brawl to end them all, as the two teams split, with Langley taking the opening set 27-25, before Coupeville rebounded to claim the second frame 25-22.

Since we ended up being in the gym for 4+ hours, would it have hurt to trim some of the (many, many) warm-up periods and let these two squads play a deciding third set?

I think not, but those kind of decisions are above my pay grade, so I content myself by sitting back and whining about things afterward.

Anyways.

The opening set, despite a flawless tip winner from Jill Prince and a smokin’ hot ace off the hand of Cypress Socha, seemed to be all Cougars, all the time.

Until it wasn’t.

Down 21-10, Coupeville went on a 9-3 run, powered by some nasty, and very effective, Allie Lucero serves, to make it a fight.

Even then, the Wolves trailed 24-19, with the Cougars on match point.

Cue the second, even-more impressive CMS run.

Katie Buskala lobbed a drop shot winner which split a pair of Cougar defenders, than the other Lucero twin, Maya, got the ball in her hands and went berserk at the line, lacing aces which spit fire as they singed the net on their way past.

From the brink of defeat, the Wolves held off five set points, eventually grabbing their first, and only, lead of the set at 25-24.

While Langley calmed down and pulled away with three straight points to claim the frame, the comeback lit a fire under the Coupeville players.

The second set was their showcase, as Gustafson lashed a winner from the middle of the court to kick things off, before Socha, Buskala, Gustafson and Maya Lucero dominated on serve.

CMS led almost start to finish, just falling behind by a single point twice, with Buskala and Prince coming up with big shots to hold off Langley down the stretch.

 

7th grade JV:

Langley’s serving dominance carried it to a 25-9, 25-15 victory.

Coupeville’s MVP in the opening set was Lauren Marrs, who dropped in several winners and staged a one-woman rally on a point in which she was the lone Wolf to hit the ball, and kept it in play through four exchanges.

The Wolves only claimed a single point off their serve in the first frame, but it was a sizzlin’ ace from Melanie Navarro.

Jordyn Rogers emerged as Coupeville’s best hope at the line in the second set, popping a pair of aces during a run of four straight points on her serve, while Brenna Silveira lobbed a winner off a return, catching the last flake of paint on the back line.

 

7th grade varsity:

With very few 7th graders on its roster, Coupeville essentially played the same lineup as in the JV match, and Langley’s top squad, crammed full of ferocious servers, rolled to a 25-4, 25-11, 25-9 victory.

The first set featured a phenomenal shot by Desi Ramirez, as the Wolf youngster lobbed the ball back over her head, while looking the other way.

The ball caught the back line and caught the Cougars flat-footed, for maybe the only time in the match.

After that, highlights included Marrs putting together two more solid runs on serve, Kaitlyn Leavell sliding a winner across the net on mom Sarah’s birthday, and solid all-around play from Jesse Ross-McMahon.

Every Wolf in action Wednesday contributed, whether it was hustle, chipping in on rallies or chattering positively to teammates, with Ava Mitten, Lily Meyers, Skylar Parker, Hayley Thomas and Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson giving the jam-packed CMS gym something to cheer.

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