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   Wolf senior Allison Wenzel had three rebounds and two steals Saturday in her final high school hoops game. (Susan Wenzel photos)

   With nine players set to return next year, the future remains bright for Coupeville basketball.

There are several ways to look at the final game, and the year as a whole.

After three straight seasons of dominating the Olympic League, with a trip to the state tourney in the middle, the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad wasn’t able to reach those lofty levels this time around.

Battered by graduation and injuries, the Wolves, who won 15+ games in each of the last three seasons, finished 8-14 in 2017-2018, capping their season with a 55-23 first-round playoff loss Saturday to visiting Bellevue Christian.

And yet, CHS coach David King was still smiling in the aftermath, calling it “one of our best seasons” and his players exited, heads high, a glimmer of determination in their eyes in place of tears.

That’s largely because almost the entire roster, after learning under fire as underclassmen, can return next season.

Having lost four starters before the season, the Wolves played Saturday minus two of their three leading scorers, with Mikayla Elfrank (and her badly-injured ankle) in street clothes and Sarah Wright out of state.

That gave King a chance to give solid minutes to freshman Chelsea Prescott, sophomores Scout Smith, Hannah Davidson and Avalon Renninger and swing players Ashlie Shank and Maddy Hilkey.

Despite facing a tall, aggressive BC squad, the Wolf young guns never backed down, showing the same guts and determination they have all season.

Five of the six scored, with Shank knocking down a three-ball for her first varsity points and Renninger swishing her first varsity field goal.

The only player from that six-pack not to take a shot was Hilkey, and she tied for the team lead on the night with two assists, both off of especially sweet set-up passes.

Coupeville’s active players, which also included seniors Kyla Briscoe and Allison Wenzel and juniors Ema Smith and Lindsey Roberts, didn’t lack for heart or desire.

Or, in Briscoe’s case, refreshing chippiness, as the easy-going one inadvertently body-slammed a rival player off the hard-wood while trying to stuff a shot.

Catching the Viking right across the forehead as she went airborne, then hooking her, Briscoe put the BC player to the floor with enough force that the rafters in the gym shook.

That she immediately profusely apologized to her fallen foe showcased Briscoe’s eternal class and compassion, even if her rooting section went bonkers screaming for their newly-minted WWE superstar.

Coupeville’s biggest issue on this night was simply that BC had a lot more offensive fire power.

Freshman gunner Rylee Reese paced the Vikings with a game-high 15, three times pulling up to knock down a trey from behind the arc, while BC’s multiple tall trees crashed through the paint all night.

Roberts, who gave up several inches to Bellevue’s post players, fought like a wild woman, however, and refused to cede ground.

After battling illness all week which required her to sit out several practices, the long ‘n lanky speed demon paced the Wolves with nine points and 16 rebounds.

With her work on the glass, Roberts accounted for nearly half of Coupeville’s 34 rebounds by herself.

BC had a sweet shooting touch, from inside, outside and every place, however, and twice used 12-0 runs to cripple any Wolf comeback hopes.

The best Coupeville could do in response was a 9-2 mini-surge that started with Roberts dropping a three-ball from the left side on the final shot of the first half.

She then opened the third quarter with a put-back, before Scout Smith drilled a pair of soft jumpers while on the move.

CHS put together one other short run, with Renninger’s pull-up jumper, a beautiful bank shot by Prescott and another put-back off of an offensive board from Roberts accounting for six consecutive points.

King came away pleased with what he saw from his still very raw, developing roster.

“We settled down a little in the second half, got over some early nerves and dealt better with Bellevue’s pressure,” he said. “I thought we fought and worked hard as a team.”

With her nine points, Roberts raised her career total to 298, putting her in 36th place on the Wolf girls all-time scoring chart as she eyes her senior season.

Her scoring totals have increased each season, as she has jumped from #6 on the team as a freshman to #4 as a sophomore to #1 this season.

Prescott and Scout Smith each added four, Shank knocked down three on her long-ball, Renninger netted a bucket and Davidson swished a free throw to round out the scoring.

Next season will bring a jump from the four-team Olympic League to the newly-formed six-team North Sound Conference.

With just seniors Elfrank, Briscoe and Wenzel departing, there is prime opportunity awaiting the young players who learned on the fly this time around.

“I hope they embrace it,” King said. “If they are willing to put in the work, to go to camp and take advantage of off-season opportunities, they can accomplish great things.”

 

2017-2018 varsity scoring stats:

Lindsey Roberts 161
Mikayla Elfrank
99
Sarah Wright
99
Ema Smith
94
Kyla Briscoe
78
Scout Smith
56
Kalia Littlejohn
38
Chelsea Prescott
38
Hannah Davidson
11
Allison Wenzel
5
Avalon Renninger
3
Ashlie Shank
3

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Ashlie Shank and the Coupeville girls kick off the playoffs Feb. 10 with a home game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Winter belonged to the RedHawks, but the school year has belonged to the Wolves.

Both Port Townsend basketball teams won league titles Saturday, with the girls ending Coupeville’s three-year run atop the standings.

But, if we look at the entire 2017-2018 school year, CHS is the big dog right now.

Looking at the six fall and winter sports the Wolves play (football, volleyball, boys tennis, girls soccer and girls and boys basketball), they have the most varsity wins of any of the four Olympic League teams with 31.

Klahowya, whose boys basketball team had the title sewn up until a late-season collapse, has 28, while Port Townsend sits with 21.

Chimacum, which has suffered win-less campaigns in boys basketball and tennis, brings up the rear with nine total varsity wins.

Spring is on the horizon, and with that comes softball, baseball, girls tennis and boys soccer as we follow the team wins battle.

Track also arrives, but is largely an individual sport disguised as a team sport, and team win totals are all but impossible to keep track of when multiple schools are involved in every meet.

This is the final year of the current set-up of the Olympic League, as Coupeville is bouncing to the new North Sound Conference next fall.

Before the Wolves go, they would love to repeat as unofficial league-wide champs and defend the varsity wins title they copped last year, when they edged Klahowya 51-48.

The Eagles, who spring from the second-biggest student body in 1A, prevailed 52-40 and 45-42 over CHS the first two years of the league, with Chimacum and Port Townsend well behind in every year.

In other matters, the end of the regular season for basketball means the end of the trail for the Coupeville boys.

While the Wolf girls kick off a playoff run Feb. 10,  their male counterparts were tripped up by the Olympic League only having two playoff slots this season.

Still, before they were done, a couple of Wolves hit milestones.

Ethan Spark topped the 200-point mark in his senior season, while Hunter Smith’s 382 points was the best single season for a Wolf boy since Mike Bagby tossed in 414 back in 2004-2005.

Smith also came very close to having one of the best seasons in school history, with the tenth-best single-season mark by a Wolf boy being 392 by Wade Ellsworth in 1978-1979.

On the girls side of the ball, Wolf junior Lindsey Roberts, who still has games to play, has more than doubled her previous career total.

With 152 points this season, she’s jumped from 137 career points (#77 all-time for CHS girls) to 289 points (#36 all-time).

Final regular-season varsity scoring totals and league standings:

Girls:

Lindsey Roberts 152
Mikayla Elfrank 99
Sarah Wright 99
Ema Smith 94
Kyla Briscoe 78
Scout Smith 52
Kalia Littlejohn 38
Chelsea Prescott 34
Hannah Davidson 10
Allison Wenzel 5
Avalon Renninger 1

Boys:

Hunter Smith 382
Ethan Spark 216
Joey Lippo 88
Cameron Toomey-Stout 54
Hunter Downes 53
Mason Grove 51
Kyle Rockwell 29
Jered Brown 24
Dane Lucero 16
Gavin Knoblich 5
Ulrik Wells 4
Jacobi Pilgrim 1

Olympic League girls basketball:

School League Overall
Port Townsend 7-2 9-10
COUPEVILLE 6-3 8-13
Chimacum 4-5 7-12
Klahowya 1-8 4-15

Olympic League boys basketball:

School League Overall
Port Townsend 7-2 11-8
Klahowya 6-3 10-10
COUPEVILLE 5-4 7-13
Chimacum 0-9 0-14

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   David King has preached defense all season, and it has carried the Wolves back to the playoffs. (Amy King photo)

   Kyla Briscoe was one of three Wolves honored on Senior Night. (Jackie Calkins photos)

   An injury has kept senior Mikayla Elfrank on the bench for a chunk of the season, but she and her family could joke about it as they all sported bandaged legs.

Allison Wenzel capped Senior Night by playing like a beast on defense.

Defense is their calling card.

Through injuries and defections, through great games and struggles, the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad has hung its hat on stopping the other team from putting the ball in the bucket this season.

Saturday night was a prime example, as the Wolves stepped up huge, holding visiting Chimacum scoreless for 10 minutes to open the second half.

Sparked by the rush of corralling rebounds, taking charges and making off with steal after steal, Coupeville held on for a taut 36-29 win in a game which decided the #2 playoff seed from the Olympic League.

Now 8-13 overall after winning for the fourth time in their last six games, the Wolves finished 6-3 in Olympic League play.

They will host a loser-out playoff game next Saturday, Feb. 10 against the #3 team from the Nisqually League. Their foe will be known after play in that conference wraps Tuesday.

Win that postseason clash and Coupeville advances to the double-elimination portion of districts, from which three of four teams will move on to the state tourney.

After three consecutive 9-0 seasons, Coupeville capped a 33-3 run through the four-team conference by pulling off maybe its biggest accomplishment.

In past seasons, the Wolves had a transcendent star in Makana Stone and deep, veteran rosters.

This time around, they began by losing four starters (three to graduation, one to a transfer), then lost two more, including their leading scorer, as the season progressed.

That required CHS coach David King to find different ways to win, and defense has always been at the core of his teachings.

Saturday night, in the crucible against a very physical Chimacum squad, it paid off handsomely.

“Defensively we have been working really hard on sliding our feet and not reaching,” King said. “Tonight we really played the way we wanted.

Sarah (Wright) and Allison (Wenzel) were so outstanding stopping the dribble drive,” he added. “Then you take our steals off of our press and going hard to the basket once we had the ball – exactly the goal.”

Clinging to a 20-18 lead at the half, the Wolves erupted from the locker room with fire in their eyes and passion in their hearts.

With youngsters like Scout Smith and Chelsea Prescott coming of age under considerable fire from the elbow-throwing and hip-checking Cowboys, Coupeville’s defense stood tall in the third quarter.

Forcing wild shots or turnovers, then pounding the boards or getting out on the break, the Wolves took control of the game with a 10-0 run.

Kyla Briscoe netted an epic three-ball from the left side, while Ema Smith, Wright and Lindsey Roberts all drained huge buckets off of set-ups from teammates.

Wenzel fed Ema Smith, Scout Smith punched the ball between defenders to find Wright, and Prescott laid the ball right on Robert’s fingertips on a note-perfect in-bounds pass.

Coupeville’s shooting touch dried up a bit in the fourth, as the Wolves couldn’t get a field goal to drop.

A combination of stellar defense, free throws from Ema Smith (she drained six pressure-packed freebies in the game’s final minutes) and Chimacum’s terrible night at the free throw stripe (8-25) prevented the Cowboys from mounting a full comeback.

Chimacum pulled within 33-29 with a little over a minute to play, but Ema Smith drained three of four free throws to close the scoring.

Even better, the Wolf defense thoroughly shut down the Cowboys over those final 60 seconds, not letting the ball come anywhere close to hitting the net.

The game had started with a little back and forth, as Coupeville went to the first break up 9-6.

Scout Smith had the sweetest bucket of the quarter, pulling in a long pass from Briscoe, then hanging in air for an eternity before slapping home a layup over a defender’s outstretched arm.

The second quarter belonged to Roberts, who played the entire 32 minutes and combined with Wright to dominate on the boards.

The Wolf junior tossed in six points in the quarter, sticking a jumper back in off of a rebound, before converting on a pair of breakaways.

Scout Smith was back at it again, as well, losing the handle on the ball, only to spin and steal the ball right back from a Cowboy.

Completing the play o’ wonder, she promptly knocked down the layup to thoroughly befuddle Chimacum.

Ema Smith and Roberts paced the Wolves with 10 points apiece, while Wright knocked down seven, Briscoe popped for five and Scout Smith had a dazzling four.

Prescott, Wenzel and Hannah Davidson all contributed greatly to Coupeville’s withering defense.

JV falls in final moments:

The win slipped through the fingers of the Wolf young guns in literally the final few seconds, as Chimacum scored the last four points en route to a 33-29 win.

The loss leaves the JV with a final record of 3-5 in league play, 7-11 overall.

Coupeville fell behind 8-0 in the early going, then rode the stellar shooting of Ashlie Shank and some strong defense of its own to get back in the game.

Shank, who rattled in a game-high 14, got the Wolves on the board with back-to-back buckets to end the first quarter, then tossed in 10 more in the second-half.

After surging in front 10-8 midway through the second, when Maddie Hilkey took a pass from Avalon Renninger and slashed through two defenders for a go-ahead basket, CHS led most of the way.

Chimacum didn’t regain the lead until a minute into the fourth, when a 6-0 run put it up 24-20.

Shank was having none of that, knocking down a jumper, then snatching a rebound off of a missed free throw and knotting the game up with a put-back.

From that point, there were four lead changes, with neither team being more than two points ahead.

A free throw from Genna Wright gave the teams their final tie, at 29-29, but Chimacum slipped in a basket off of a nice roll under the hoop by their point guard, then sealed the deal with two free throws.

Hilkey finished with six to back Shank’s 14, while Wright (3), Renninger (2), Tia Wurzrainer (2) and Nicole Lester (2) also scored.

Kylie Chernikoff, Julia García Oñoro and Mollie Bailey also saw court time in the JV team’s season finale.

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   Jacobi Pilgrim is one of 12 Wolf boys to have scored in a varsity game this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One week to seal their fates.

The high school basketball campaign, at least the regular season part, is nearing an end.

Three games in five days next week, and then it’s on to the postseason for some, but not all.

Coupeville’s girls are playoff-bound again, but the final games will tell the tale of whether they enter as a #1, #2 or #3 seed.

A loss Friday to Port Townsend made the run at a fourth-straight league crown exceedingly difficult, but it’s not impossible.

The RedHawks can make things even harder with a win over Chimacum Tuesday, but, if the Cowboys prevail, then things go all kaflooey for another couple of days.

Coupeville has a non-league match-up at Sequim Tuesday, then faces its fate with games at Klahowya Thursday and home against Chimacum Saturday.

If everything comes down to that final day, the Wolves will be sending good thoughts to Amber Bumbalough and the Eagles as they try and knock off Port Townsend in their finale.

However it all works out, the Wolf girls, as we said, are playoff-bound.

The same can’t be said for the CHS boys, unfortunately, as the Wolves were eliminated from playoff contention by a loss Friday at Port Townsend.

While three girls squads punch postseason tickets, only two boys teams get to make the trip this year.

As we prepare for the final week of the regular season, a look at varsity scoring stats and league standings through Jan. 28:

Girls:

Lindsey Roberts 130
Mikayla Elfrank 99
Sarah Wright 84
Ema Smith 67
Kyla Briscoe 58
Scout Smith 40
Kalia Littlejohn 38
Chelsea Prescott 34
Hannah Davidson 10
Allison Wenzel 3
Avalon Renninger 1

Boys:

Hunter Smith 311
Ethan Spark 192
Joey Lippo 82
Mason Grove 48
Hunter Downes 46
Jered Brown 24
Cameron Toomey-Stout 24
Kyle Rockwell 21
Dane Lucero 10
Gavin Knoblich 2
Ulrik Wells 2
Jacobi Pilgrim 1

Olympic League girls basketball:

School League Overall
Port Townsend 5-2 7-10
COUPEVILLE 4-3 6-12
Chimacum 4-3 7-9
Klahowya 1-6 4-13

Olympic League boys basketball:

School League Overall
Klahowya 6-1 10-8
Port Townsend 5-2 9-8
COUPEVILLE 3-4 5-12
Chimacum 0-7 0-11

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   Defensive hustle, like this shown by Ema Smith in an earlier game, has kept the Wolf girls in games this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The road to an Olympic League girls basketball title still goes through Coupeville.

While this year’s Wolves, battered by injuries and defections, aren’t running roughshod like they did the previous three seasons, they are still very much in the hunt for another crown.

That much was shown Tuesday, when CHS used a blistering defensive stand to throttle visiting Klahowya 28-17.

With the win, the Wolves rise to 3-2 in league play, 5-11 overall, and force a three-way tie at the top of the conference with four league games to play.

Port Townsend (3-2, 5-8) and Chimacum (3-2, 6-8), which Coupeville faces Friday, are part of the logjam, while Klahowya (1-4, 3-11) brings up the rear.

Facing off Tuesday with an Eagles squad which was coming off a big win over Chimacum, the Wolves clamped down and never let up.

Ferocious on the boards, Coupeville hounded Klahowya into a ton of bad shots and then snatched away the resulting rebounds.

While their own offensive prowess fluctuated throughout the game, the Wolves also proved deadly at the line, where they had a 13-5 advantage in made free throws.

The game didn’t exactly get off to a roaring start on the offensive end, as neither team scored in the first three minutes-plus, while Klahowya didn’t sink its first bucket until the 2:31 mark of the first quarter.

Clinging to a 4-2 lead at the first break, the Wolves promptly went scoreless for almost the first half of the second quarter.

But then, with the game knotted at 4-4, Scout Smith handed her squad a lead it would never relinquish.

The Wolf sophomore slashed to the hoop, drew the foul, then calmly swished a pair of free throws through the net to kick-start what would be an 11-0 run to end the half.

Scout Smith also drilled a jumper from the side during the surge, while Ema Smith, playing on a bum leg, but hiding it well, dropped in five, packaging a pair of buckets around a free throw.

Hannah Davidson slid a pair of free throws through the net with just a few ticks to play, and with Coupeville’s defense refusing to bend to Klahowya’s will, the game was 15-4 and firmly headed to the win column at the break.

The second half was a fairly even battle, with Lindsey Roberts stepping in to the spotlight to seal the deal for the Wolves.

The long ‘n lanky junior cleaned the boards like a pro, threw down seven points with a variety of moves — including a three-ball and a beautiful catch-and-roll through the paint for a layup — then punctuated things with a spike.

Late in the fourth, Klahowya was out on the break and had numbers, but Roberts, coming from behind, went airborne and firmly rejected an Eagle shot off the back wall.

Catching the ball with her fingertips, while avoiding the shooter’s body, she effectively ended the night’s conversation with a firm “No, ma’am!!”

Roberts block was emblematic of the defensive grit which has kept the Wolves afloat, even after they lost their #1 scorer when Mikayla Elfrank suffered a brutal ankle injury mid-season.

“Our defense keeps us in games and has really improved as the season has gone on,” said Coupeville coach David King. “Always happy to see us play like that.”

While Roberts was a one-woman wrecking crew, King also hailed the defensive work of others such as Sarah Wright, Allison Wenzel and Hannah Davidson, who “had her best game of the season.”

Coupeville, as it has done for much of the season, spread out its offensive workload, with Roberts tossing in a team-high nine.

Ema Smith banked home seven in support, while Scout Smith and Kyla Briscoe each added four.

Davidson and Wright rounded out the scoring with two apiece, Wenzel and Chelsea Prescott brought hustle when they were on the floor and Elfrank and Avalon Renninger were solid cheerleaders for their teammates.

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