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Hawthorne Wolfe and Coupeville won Friday, keeping alive their hopes of claiming a league title. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The stage is set.

The Coupeville High School varsity baseball squad took care of business Friday, nipping host Mount Vernon Christian 4-3 to remain a half-game out of first place in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

Now 8-1 in conference action, 10-5 overall, the Wolves host defending NWL champs, and current frontrunner, Friday Harbor (8-0, 11-1) Tuesday, Apr. 26.

The first time the hardball teams met, Coupeville fell 3-2 to the Wolverines.

After Tuesday’s battle royal, CHS has league games remaining with Orcas Island (4-3) and Darrington (1-6), while Friday Harbor plays Concrete (0-6), La Conner (1-7), and Orcas.

A win Tuesday is crucial for Coupeville, as only one of the league’s three 2B schools advances to the playoffs, with that squad going straight to the 16-team state tourney.

La Conner is already eliminated, leaving Friday Harbor and CHS to vie for the league crown, and the postseason berth.

With that in mind, Friday’s rumble in Mount Vernon was huge for the Wolves, and they stepped up big time.

“An amazing game; was fun to be part of,” said Coupeville coach Will Thayer. “Hawk (Wolfe) and Cody (Roberts) pitched a hell of a game.”

The Wolves jumped on MVC for three runs in the top of the first, raising hopes that the game might be a blow-out.

Wolfe led off the game with a walk, scampered to second on a stolen base, then careened home on the first of two doubles Scott Hilborn would blast on the day.

Scott Hilborn is a force at the plate and on the basepaths.

The hit parade continued with Xavier Murdy drilling an RBI single to right field, before the wily senior came around to score himself thanks to smart base-running and an MVC wild pitch.

But while Coupeville pitcher Cody Roberts was stifling the Hurricanes, his own team’s bats suddenly went to sleep after the opening rally.

Following Murdy’s base-knock, MVC retired 11 straight Wolves, preventing Coupeville from adding to its lead.

CHS didn’t get another base runner on until Sage Sharp was plunked by a wayward pitch leading off the top of the fifth.

Unfortunately though, both he and teammate Cole White, who singled in that frame, were stranded.

The hosts made things dicey with their own three-run surge in the bottom of the fifth, using a couple of key hits to tie the game up and tighten Coupeville collars.

Or so it might have seemed.

The reality was Hilborn was primed to save the day, bopping his second two-bagger in the sixth inning, then scoring the go-ahead run when Peyton Caveness reached on an error.

Given the lead back, Coupeville turned to its version of Mariano Rivera — one Hawthorne Wolfe, Esq. — and he sealed the win with a strong relief appearance.

MVC had the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, but Wolfe induced the game’s final two outs, then strolled back to the bus, ready for Tuesday’s titanic tussle.

Coupeville finished with six hits Friday, getting solid bat work from Hilborn (two doubles), Cole White (1B), Wolfe (1B), Murdy (1B), and Sharp (1B).

Roberts and Wolfe combined to limit to MVC to just four base-knocks while striking out five Hurricanes.

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Peyton Caveness cracked two hits Tuesday as Coupeville beat Mount Vernon Christian. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Same stats, different results.

Coupeville and Mount Vernon Christian each racked up four hits and three walks Tuesday, but the Wolves took full advantage of their opportunities, while preventing the Hurricanes from doing the same.

That was enough to lift Coupeville’s varsity baseball squad to a 3-0 win on its home diamond, kicking off a busy week of Northwest 2B/1B League action.

The victory lifts the Wolves to 2-0 in conference play, 3-3 overall, with another NWL bout set for Wednesday at home against Darrington.

CHS wraps the week with a doubleheader Friday on the road at defending league champ Friday Harbor.

Tuesday’s tilt was a pitcher’s duel, with the wham-bam combo of Wolf hurlers Cody Roberts and Scott Hilborn combining to whiff 12 Hurricanes.

Scott and Cody pitched awesome!” said Coupeville coach Will Thayer.

After escaping a big-time jam in the top of the first, Roberts was largely lights out, putting up 10 K’s.

Cody Roberts brings the heat.

The senior righty had the bags full after giving up a pair of singles and a walk, but brought the hammer down with a vengeance, ending the danger with his third punch-out of the frame.

After that, the best Mount Vernon Christian could do was put just a single runner aboard in a given inning, with Roberts and Hilborn stranding every Hurricane who (momentarily) breached their defense.

Coupeville pushed across one runner in the bottom of the second, and two more in the third to claim an advantage it would not surrender.

Xavier Murdy was plunked by a pitch to set up the game’s first run.

After moving to second on a ground-out, X-Man stole third, before scampering home when a third strike — which would have ended the inning — was dropped.

In the third, Wolf 8th grader Chase Anderson whacked a single and Jonathan Valenzuela walked, with the former coming around to tap home on a Hilborn groundout, and the latter scoring on an RBI single from Peyton Caveness.

Coupeville had a couple of other chances, most noticeably in the fourth inning when it had two runners on base, but MVC’s pitching staff held the Wolves at bay.

Not that it mattered much as solid teamwide defense and crackling fastballs from their pitchers helped the Wolves close things out.

Caveness paced CHS with a pair of hits, Anderson and Jack Porter added base-knocks, and Valenzuela (2) and Murdy (1) accounted for Coupeville’s walks.

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Coupeville’s Ja’Kenya Hoskins battles with Mount Vernon Christian’s Kylee Russell this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The 15th time was the sweetest.

After never finishing higher than fifth place in 14 previous trips to the state tournament, the Mount Vernon Christian girls basketball program achieved nirvana Saturday night.

Holding off Neah Bay 37-33 at the Spokane Arena, the Hurricanes captured the 1B state title.

It’s the third crown for teams from the Northwest 2B/1B League during the 2021-2022 school year.

In the fall, La Conner won the 2B volleyball title, while Orcas Island ruled 2B/1B boys soccer.

MVC, which handed Coupeville 55-24 and 43-23 losses in league play, finishes 23-3.

The Hurricanes knocked off Pomeroy, Naselle, Garfield-Palouse, and Neah Bay in the 16-team state tourney to claim the crown.

Getting the final victory was a bit of struggle, however, as MVC trailed by 11 points in the second half.

Still down four with less than four to go, the ‘Canes closed the season on an 8-0 run, with five different players scoring.

Kylee Russell, Allie Heino, Caitlin Vander Kooy, Emma Droog, and Hannah Van Hofwegen all chipped in to fuel the frantic final run.

The championship caps a postseason in which five NWL hoops teams made it to the state tourney.

On the boys side, Coupeville pushed Kalama and Lake Roosevelt hard in 2B tourney games in their first trip to the big dance in 34 years, while MVC and Orcas Island made the 1B draw.

The Hurricane boys beat Riverside Christian, before being eliminated by Lummi Nation.

Orcas lost to Wellpinit in its one state game.

The NWL team which was heavily favored to win a state title, the top-ranked La Conner girls, finished fourth after being upended by eventual champ Warden in the quarterfinals.

The Braves, who opened with a win over Chief Leschi, rebounded from their loss to beat Lake Roosevelt and Raymond.

Liberty (Spangle) won the 2B boys crown, joining Warden as champs, while the Cusick boys matched the MVC girls in bringing home the biggest hardware.

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Caleb Meyer and Coupeville won their 12th straight game Thursday, matching the best start in program history. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Two milestones reached, several more to go.

With a 57-47 win at Mount Vernon Christian Thursday, the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball squad equals the best start in program history, while clinching at least a tie for its first league title in two decades.

The Wolves, now a pristine 9-0 in Northwest 2B/1B League play, 12-0 overall, have matched the starts of the 1969-1970 and 1996-1997 teams.

With three regular season games left on the schedule, including NWL showdowns with Friday Harbor and La Conner, the CHS boys will add their first new plaque to the school’s Wall of Fame since current coach Brad Sherman was a player.

Coupeville can finish no worse than 9-2 in league play, while MVC, at 6-2 with three conference clashes left, can finish no better than 9-2.

If that happens, the schools will technically share the title, though the Wolves swept the season series against the Hurricanes, giving them an edge which can’t be denied.

One more Wolf win in league play, or one more MVC loss, however, and Coupeville sits alone atop the NWL.

The last time a Coupeville boys basketball squad claimed a league title was the 2001-2002 season, when Sherman was a junior sharpshooter rattling the rims for 275 points and Randy King was Wolf coach.

Chris Good led that team in scoring, followed by ShermanGeoff Hageman, Sean Callahan, Casey ClarkJames MeekBrian RoundyDustin VanvelkinburghBrian FakkemaRob Fasolo, and Joe Kelley.

20 years after playing on the last Wolf boys hoops team to win a league title, Brad Sherman has led this year’s team to the first level of the promised land. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This year’s Wolf squad, which travels to Granite Falls Saturday for a non-conference rumble and a crack at the first 13-0 mark in 105 seasons, faced down one of its toughest tests Thursday night.

The game was a one-point affair with six minutes to play, but the Wolves refused to bend or crack.

Having frittered away a 14-point second quarter lead, Coupeville saw MVC tie the game up twice in the second half, but never trailed against the Hurricanes after Logan Downes slapped a rebound home to stake his squad to an early 8-7 lead.

Clinging to a 43-42 advantage with the clock headed under six to play, the Wolves stiffened on defense and swarmed to the ball.

Forcing bad passes, hitting the boards with intensity, and plucking the ball away from the Hurricane ballhandlers, CHS closed the game on a 14-5 run which drove a stake through the heart of every MVC fan in attendance.

We dine on your private school tears, and it is sweet. So sweet.

The Wolves did it from distance, with Downes and Xavier Murdy draining three-balls, with the former making the net jump off a pinpoint pass from Hawthorne Wolfe, and the latter hitting a step-back trey.

And Coupeville’s players did it at the free throw line, hitting six of eight freebies in the waning moments after getting hacked and molested on their way to the hoop.

Caleb Meyer put the cherries on top of the sundae, swishing four consecutive free throws to end things, while Grady Rickner and Downes also tickled the twines for a crucial point.

Toss in Wolfe rippling the nets for a foul shot early in the quarter — netting the 750th point of his prep career — and CHS dominated at the line.

Coupeville hit 12 of 18, while MVC was a modest 3-7.

Coupeville Middle School stars made the trek to Mount Vernon to support their high school counterparts. (Riley White photo)

The game tipped off with Xavier Murdy and Meyer in fine form, as the senior duo combined for 19 points as CHS built a 21-12 lead by the first break.

Meyer knocked down back-to-back treys, with one set up by a Wolfe steal, and things were headed in a positive direction.

Barely a minute into the second quarter, after X-Man converted off of an offensive rebound and Downes drilled the bottom out of the net on a three-ball, the romp was on at 26-12.

But then the romp was back off, at least for a bit.

Coupeville hit a dry spell, MVC went on a run, and then the Hurricanes got lucky to tighten things up considerably.

A 10-0 Hurricanes surge cut the lead, while a three-ball which beat the shot clock and halftime buzzer by about .00002 of a second pulled the host team all the way back to within 31-29.

The lid on the bucket refused to budge for the Wolves during much of the third quarter, but Coupeville’s ramped-up defense kept them in front.

A three-point play the hard way from Meyer cracked a 31-31 tie, while Downes put a rebound back up and in to push the lead to 39-35 heading into the final frame.

That set up a rough-and-tumble fourth quarter, with the game tied at 40-40, then CHS up 43-42 when it made its heroic stand.

By getting the final margin out to 10, the Wolves won by double digits for the 11th time in 12 games this season.

The only team to lose by single digits was 3A Oak Harbor in the season opener, when lil’ 2B Coupeville made a major statement (and harvested many a sweet, sweet tear) with a 70-64 win.

Sherman used seven players in the title clincher, with six scoring.

Xavier Murdy led the way with 23 points, while Meyer banked in 18 and Downes rattled the rims for 12.

Alex Murdy (2), Wolfe (1), and Rickner (1) rounded out the scoring, with Logan Martin a terror on the boards.

“Un-de-feated!!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

 

What’s ahead:

Saturday’s non-conference game pits CHS against a 2-8 Granite Falls team, then the Wolves close the regular season with road tilts against NWL foes Friday Harbor (Feb. 4) and La Conner (Feb. 10).

Those games are important, as the three 2B schools in the conference are fighting for two playoff berths — with those slots decided not by the team’s overall record, but their mark against each other.

The league’s four 1B schools — MVC, Darrington, Concrete, and Orcas Island — go their own way in the postseason.

Coupeville is 2-0 in the four-game 2B mini-rumble, having beaten La Conner and Friday Harbor the first time around, with La Conner at 1-1 and Friday Harbor at 0-2.

Districts are Feb. 15-17, with CHS hosting.

The second-ranked 2B team from the NWL plays Auburn Adventist in a loser-out game, with the winner advancing to play the #1 seed.

Both teams in the district championship game earn a trip to state, which would be the first for the Coupeville boys since 1988.

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Zane Oldenstadt pops a shot. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The Wolf JV gets back at it this weekend.

Not every night goes your way.

Frustrated by an unforgiving rim Thursday the Coupeville High School JV boys basketball squad fell 50-23 at Mount Vernon Christian.

The loss drops the young Wolves to 1-4 in Northwest 2B/1B League play, 2-6 overall.

There are three games left on the schedule, however, with all of them on the road, giving Hunter Smith’s squad a chance to bounce back and exit on a high note.

Thursday night the Wolves found themselves in a hole early, and were never able to dig all the way back out.

Trailing 13-6 at the first break, Coupeville slipped behind 24-12 by halftime and 41-15 heading into the final frame.

Once there, the Wolves put together their best charge, playing MVC virtually straight up with four players rattling home points.

Freshman Hunter Bronec paced Coupeville, rippling the nets on a trio of three-balls en route to a team-high 10 points.

Zane Oldenstadt (5), Nick Guay (4), Landon Roberts (2), and Jack Porter (2) joined him in the scoring column, with Guay also hitting a trey.

Hurlee Bronec, Mikey Robinett, Ryan Blouin, William Davidson, and Quinten-Simpson Pilgrim all saw floor time as well.

Coupeville returns to action this Saturday with a non-conference rumble at Granite Falls.

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