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The pandemic is pausing Makana Stone’s latest basketball season. (Photo property Loughborough University)

The pause will be longer.

With Britain in a national lockdown after a substantial rise in COVID-19 cases, elite-level basketball has been sidelined.

At least for a bit.

Coupeville graduate Makana Stone, who plays for Loughborough University, was scheduled to return to action January 9.

But the Riders, who went to winter break boasting a 5-2 record, postponed their clash with Southwark.

Now, Basketball England has gone a step further, announcing Wednesday that all Women’s National Basketball League Division One games will be put on hold until Jan. 30 because of the lockdown.

That takes games against Cardiff (Jan. 16) and Worcester (Jan. 23) off the schedule for Stone and Co., with the hope Loughborough will return to play Jan. 30 against Bristol.

The pause for WNBL1 teams is better than what non-elite senior and junior teams received, as their seasons were outright cancelled.

Basketball England plans to employee COVID lateral flow testing for its players, which generally returns results in 30 minutes.

We have taken note of the increased risk currently posed by the rate of COVID-19 and the concerns of our clubs and players at elite level,” said Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett. “(We) will expand the testing currently taking place to keep everyone involved as safe as possible.”

The Riders currently sit a game back of league-leader Ipswich (6-1), who they toppled thanks to a buzzer-beater by Stone.

Loughborough is 5-1 since the Coupeville grad pulled on a uniform, and the former Wolf has been among the best players in the league.

Stone has recorded a double-double in every game she’s played in England, tallying 103 points, 95 rebounds, 13 assists, and 13 steals.

She’s #2 in the WNBL in rebounding (15.8 a night), #3 in efficiency (159.0), #7 in scoring (17.2), and #8 in free throw percentage (79.3%).

When Stone is not pursuing her hoop dreams, the Whitman College grad is busy earning a Master’s in Exercise Physiology.

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Britain’s COVID-related shutdown will keep Makana Stone from returning to the hardwood this weekend. (Photo property Loughborough University)

Boris Johnson has done what her opponents couldn’t do – shut down Makana Stone.

The Coupeville grad, who has been tearing up the Women’s National Basketball League in Britain, was set to return from winter break with a game this Saturday, January 9.

Now, though, she and her teammates are on hold. At least for a week.

Johnson, England’s wild-haired Prime Minister, announced a new national lockdown Monday, as Britain deals with a substantial rise in COVID-19 cases.

While most activities, including sports, are shut down, there is an exemption for “elite-level teams.”

Despite that, 38 of 40 games originally scheduled to be played Saturday by NBL teams have been postponed.

That includes Stone and the Loughborough University women facing off with Southwark.

For now, the Riders next game, which is Jan. 16 against Cardiff, remains on the schedule.

The situation remains fluid, with decision-makers weighing all options.

“We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation with a combination of national lockdown and elite exemption, alongside serious concerns for the welfare of those active in the game,” said Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett.

“We will be taking a short period of time to assess whether if, in light of the current circumstances, and with the increased risk from the new variant of Covid-19 to our members’ health and safety, it is right for us to press on with competition for our elite game and what the ramifications are for the sport as a whole.”

The Loughborough women went to break riding a hot streak.

The Riders are 5-2, a game back of league-leader Ipswich (6-1), who they toppled thanks to a buzzer-beater by Stone.

Loughborough is 5-1 since the Coupeville grad pulled on a uniform, and the former Wolf has been among the best players in the league.

Stone has recorded a double-double in every game she’s played in England, tallying 103 points, 95 rebounds, 13 assists, and 13 steals.

She’s currently #2 in the WNBL in rebounding (15.8 a night), #3 in efficiency (159.0), #7 in scoring (17.2), and #8 in free throw percentage (79.3%).

When she’s not pursuing her hoop dreams, the Whitman College grad is busy chasing a Master’s in Exercise Physiology.

While there’s a great deal of uncertainty right now, the easy-going Stone continues to navigate things as best as possible.

“I’m just taking slow, deep breaths!,” she said with a laugh.

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COVID-19, still the biggest story as 2020 ends. Here, a mask-clad Taylor Brotemarkle goes through a basketball practice. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Well, we’ve seen better years.

In the Age of Coronavirus, there’s little suspense as to what was the biggest story of 2020.

No Coupeville High School sports team has played a game since the Wolf girls basketball team fell to Meridian February 11 in a loser-out playoff game.

Even with the arrival of the first vaccines, that probably won’t change for awhile.

Spring sports were cancelled, fall sports were postponed, and winter remains a question mark.

But, in between the two times I tried to walk away from the blog this year, there were other stories which arose.

So, since the “retirements” turned into “vacations” both times, I’m still here to take a look back at what was what.

20 stories to define 2020, in fairly random order:

 

20 — Geoff Kappes named Principal at CHS, replacing Duane Baumann, who circles back around to rejoin the school as Special Services Director.

 

19 — Former Wolf spiker Ashley Menges, a 2019 CHS grad, hired as Wolf JV volleyball coach, replacing Chris Smith, who moves off-Island.

Ashley Menges makes the transition from player to coach.

 

18 — Jim Waller, my high school journalism teacher, retires from the Whidbey News-Times, ending his second run as Sports Editor at the newspaper.

I am now the “elder statesman” of Whidbey sports journalism, which will give a lot of people, myself included, the cold sweats.

 

17 — Island Greens, the reasonably-priced nine-hole golf course which welcomed thousands of duffers to Clinton, sold and (seemingly) shut down.

After 33 years, no more tee shots. (Photo property Island Greens)

 

16 — Coupeville grad Kyle King, a five-time state champ during his high school track and field days, runs the marathon at the US Olympic Team Trials.

He finishes a very-respectable 47th out of 222 runners, with his fastest mile coming late in the race.

 

15 — Seventh-grader Savina Wells makes her hardwood debut for Coupeville Middle School and outscores the other team by herself.

Dropping in 20 points through three quarters, while also cleaning the boards and running the point, she paces the Wolves to a 41-15 rout of Northshore Christian Academy.

Savina Wells leads the charge. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

 

14 — Ally Roberts caps her college equestrian career with a regional championship in Advanced Western Horsemanship.

While COVID prevents her from attending nationals, she exits Western Washington University with her degree — the biggest award of them all.

 

13 — Coupeville loses a pair of legends, as Larrie Ford and Jack McFadyen pass away.

The former was a Hall of Fame coach with CHS track, the latter one of the most loyal fans Wolf athletes have ever had.

Jack McFadyen with his grandkids. (Photo courtesy Carmen McFadyen)

 

12 — Wolf grad Nick Streubel closes his football career at Central Washington University with a pair of honors, being named to the All-Super Region team, and to his school’s All-Decade squad.

 

11 — Lauren Grove, one of just two athletes in the CHS Class of 2017 to play a sport in all 12 seasons, is badly-burnt in a grease fire.

In her recovery fight, and her willingness to share the painful journey with others at lauren (@the.burnt.bitch), she remains one of the strongest women I know.

 

10 — Maya Toomey-Stout, Scout Smith, and Sean Toomey-Stout tabbed as CHS Athlete of the Year winners. It’s the second-straight time Sean takes top honors.

Scout Smith wheels ‘n deals. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

 

9 — College sports are calling, as Mica Shipley (Eastern Washington University – cheer), Mallory Kortuem (Western Washington University – track), Ja’Tarya Hoskins (St. Martin’s – track), and Ben Smith (Culver-Stockton – football) find their next destinations.

 

8 — CHS boys basketball avenges a series of losses to its personal boogeyman, finally taking Port Townsend down.

With sophomore sensations Xavier Murdy and Hawthorne Wolfe banging away for 22 and 21 points, respectively, the Wolf varsity romps to a 79-66 win at home, a sign of good things to come.

Brad Sherman has a word with his team.

 

7 — Call ’em the comeback kings. The Wolf JV boys basketball team pulls off several stunning come-from-behind wins, but two stand out.

Trailing Granite Falls by three points headed to the final frame, Coupeville explodes for a 56-42 win as Daniel Olson dumps in 13 of his game-high 26 over the final eight minutes.

The most-satisfying victory, however, might have come against arch-rival South Whidbey, when the Wolves scored 27 fourth-quarter points to nail down a 70-63 win.

Going Olson one better, Murdy nets 14 in the final quarter.

 

6 — Coaching jobs start multiplying, with Chris Smith (baseball, volleyball, boys basketball), Erin Locke (middle school volleyball), and Luke Samford (cross country) all leaving Whidbey.

Meanwhile, Kyle Nelson is still hanging around as Wolf girls soccer coach, but lets go of his boys soccer gig.

 

5 — After years of being one of the smallest schools in 1A, Coupeville officially moves back to 2B and its old stomping grounds in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

COVID has delayed the transition, but some day it will become reality on the playing field as well.

Mollie Bailey (32) and Audrianna Shaw will move from 1A to 2B.

 

4 — End of an era, as longtime CHS teacher/coaches Randy King and Ron Bagby retire, along with registrar Marie Bagby.

 

3 — CHS grad Makana Stone caps a splendid four-year run of basketball excellence at Whitman College, graduating as the #2 rebounder and #5 scorer in program history.

She plays in 110 games for the Blues, including making a record 92 starts, and earns All-American and All-Region honors to go with the Northwest Conference MVP award.

Makana Stone, swishin’ hoops and dazzlin’ folks in Jolly Olde England. (Photo property Loughborough University)

 

2 — Not content to stop with America, Stone moves to England.

Six games into her first season at Loughborough University, she’s been tabbed twice as the Women’s National Basketball League Player of the Week, and has made the Team of the Week four times.

 

1 — COVID. It was, and is, a whole thing. But tomorrow is another day.

They will be back in action at some point. Believe it.

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Coupeville teaching legend Deb Sherman hangs out with one of the grandkids during a basketball game coached by son Brad. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This was an unusual task.

With sports shut down most of the year thanks to the ongoing pandemic, selecting the best photos of 2020 was both easier and harder than normal.

For one thing, with virtually no games after February, there were a LOT less pics, and pretty much every sport except for basketball was AWOL.

Still, actually getting down to 20 was once again brutal, especially when it came to cutting from about 24 down to the final group.

But I did it.

So here we go, in no particular order, the photos which stand out to me.

Makana Stone changed continents, but continues to scorch the hardwood. (Photo property of Loughborough University)

Future Wolf stars show their support for current sweet-shooting sensation Hawthorne Wolfe. (Morgan White photo)

Avery Parker proudly displays some of her pandemic artwork. (Corinn Parker photo)

Natalie Hollrigel smushes Mica Shipley for charity. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mask in place, Kylie Van Velkinburgh joins her CHS softball teammates in a return to action.

Sean Toomey-Stout gets bendy.

Greg White (left) and Larrie Ford share a laugh.

Ty Hamilton splashes home a bucket.

Chelsea Prescott yanks down a rebound.

Ja’Tarya Hoskins fires the javelin right before COVID-19 shut down sports. (Brian Vick photo)

Nick Armstrong grapples for control of the ball. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sylvia Arnold hugs husband Garrett after being gifted with a restored version of her grandfather’s truck. (Photo courtesy Jerry Helm)

Ryanne Knoblich goes low during volleyball practice. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

A taekwondo champ comes in hot.

Jessenia Camarena claims a loose ball.

Melia Welling celebrates graduation with her mom.

Xavier Murdy slices ‘n dices the South Whidbey defense.

Mica Shipley, with a little help from Gavin St Onge, stands tall.

Lauren Grove, one of the strongest women I’ve written about, remains unbowed while recovering from a kitchen fire. Follow her example as we head to 2021.

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Makana Stone has been a fixture on the Team of the Week while playing basketball in England. (Photo property of FocusHoops)

Forget about using a pencil. They can write her name in with a marker at this point.

Coupeville grad Makana Stone, tearing up the hardwood in jolly ol’ England, was tabbed Tuesday to the FocusHoops Team of the Week.

It’s the fourth time in six weeks the former Wolf has appeared on the list, with two Player of the Week honors already to her credit.

This time out, Flo Ward of Bristol earned top honors after a 28-point performance, but Stone was hot on her heels.

The American Assassin racked up a game-high 18 points, a team-best 13 rebounds, and four assists, hitting the game-winning free throw Saturday as Loughborough University toppled Nottingham Trent 71-70.

Stone has played in six games for the Riders, putting together a double-double each time out.

Loughborough heads to winter break with a 5-2 record, tied for second-place in the 12-team Women’s National Basketball League.

The Riders, who are 5-1 since Stone pulled on a jersey, sit a game back of Ipswich (6-1), who they beat on a last-second shot from Coupeville’s progeny.

On the season, the Whitman grad has 103 points, 95 rebounds, 13 assists, and 13 steals.

Stone is currently #2 in the WNBL in rebounding (15.8 a night), #3 in efficiency (159.0), #7 in scoring (17.2), and #8 in free throw percentage (79.3%).

When she’s not pursuing her hoop dreams, she’s busy chasing a Master’s in Exercise Physiology.

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