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Posts Tagged ‘Nezi Keiper’

Nezi Keiper (middle) gets mugged in broad daylight, but refuses to surrender the basketball. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Keiper is one of the most promising athletes headed to Coupeville High School this fall.

Nezi Keiper is going to be a star.

Let’s just start there, with a little editorial comment.

There’s a strong group of athletes headed to Coupeville High School this fall, especially on the girls side of things, and Keiper, if she wants it, could be the kind of athlete people talk about long after her prep playing days are done.

She’s a standout on the soccer pitch, and a far better basketball player than she might think, one who showed tremendous growth from 7th to 8th grade.

Her time on the gridiron — she more than held her own while playing for the CMS football team — prepared her for the sometimes-vicious battle awaiting her down in the paint, and she showed a nice scoring touch for an 8th grade hoops team which went undefeated.

As Keiper prepares for her freshman year, she’s dead-set on following her love of soccer as far as it will carry her.

“I’ve been playing soccer since third grade,” Keiper said. “Soccer is my favorite sport because it was the very first sport I played.

“My mom got me into it at a young age and I continued to love it,” she added. “I only want to get better at soccer and I think I have a pretty good chance at being a starter on varsity this season if I give it my all.”

Keiper plays shut-down defense, and is a player not afraid to stand up to any foolhardy rivals who dare to crash into her side of the field.

“I’ve heard that I am a good defender and I will risk any body part to stop the ball from going into the goal, except my hands … that’s illegal,” she said.

“Soccer is also something I turn to when I’m not feeling myself, to remind me of who I am and what I am meant to do, be a good athlete and follow my dreams.”

Those dreams include playing on the soccer pitch beyond her high school days.

“My main goal is to make varsity for soccer and be a starter,” Keiper said. “I want to play soccer all four years and hopefully get into a college with a scholarship for soccer.”

As she progresses in her own sports career, she also continues to give back, helping keep the circle of life going for Coupeville sports.

“Being an athlete has its perks if you’re good,” Keiper said. “I’ve heard many people tell me they look up to me when it comes to soccer and I enjoy being able to help younger kids who want to learn how to play.”

While she’s firmly entrenched in the soccer world, she’s wavering a bit on basketball, intending to play her freshman year and then see how it goes.

When I hear Keiper say, “being an athlete includes getting respect from others and from older people if they think you are good,” I agree.

So, here’s another quick editorial comment.

As one of those older people, and one who has seen all your middle school basketball games, and a lot of other games before you hit CMS, let me say one more time — you are a far better basketball player than you may think.

I hope you don’t give up hoops, because with your combination of inside power, ferocious rebounding skills, and a surprisingly light scoring touch, you, Nezi Keiper, can be a star in two sports.

End of editorial comment, cause every young woman (or man) needs to choose their own path, what will make them personally happy, so, whatever route Keiper takes, good on her.

The bright, outgoing soon-to-be-a-high-schooler has a great mind-set (“I have a good attitude when it comes to what I love; win or lose I still have fun”) and is a star in the classroom, as well.

Language arts is her favorite class, she has her heart set on getting into AP English, and writing stirs her soul.

“Writing is something I really enjoy doing,” Keiper said. “I like to write essays about historical events or even just a story about something stupid.

“I do it a lot in my free time and I’m proud of my language arts grade; being able to write essays good is a big part of it.”

On or off the field and court, Keiper knows there is one person she can always look to for guidance and support.

“My mom has definitely helped me become the person I am,” Keiper said. “She has a strong personality and doesn’t give a crap about anything people say or think about her and I respect that and I want to be able to be like that one day.

“I look up to her when it comes to sports because she was a star athlete when she was my age,” she added. “She inspires me and I will need her to get through high school.”

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Carolyn Lhamon (11), seen here in an earlier game, was a one-woman wrecking crew Thursday as Coupeville’s 8th graders improved to 8-0. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Some good, some bad, all covered in a solid slathering of germs.

Thursday night offered up the home finales for the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball teams, and the Wolves emerged with a split against pesky Sultan.

Or, at least the girls semi-healthy enough to play did.

There was no JV game, as the visiting Turks, also dealing with flu and cold season, couldn’t field enough bodies for a contest.

How the varsity games played out:

 

8th grade:

Alex Evans played with fire, and didn’t get burned.

Trying to achieve two missions – to give a chunk of JV players valuable floor time since their game was cancelled, while still getting a win to keep his team undefeated – the Wolf hoops guru succeeded admirably in a 33-20 victory.

Coupeville, which is 8-0 with one road game left on the schedule, blew Sultan off the floor the first time around.

This time, the Wolves showed the same dominance, but just in spurts, and when it mattered most.

The prime example came in the fourth quarter, as Evans‘ two missions collided.

With all of his starters on the bench, the coach watched a 12-point lead shrink to four, but showed only calmness to the folks in the stands, and, most importantly, his own players.

Evans allowed his more inexperienced players a chance to discover what it’s like to play under pressure, holding a lead against a rival which was greatly-improved from the two teams first meeting.

Then, when the Turks had a brief moment of hope, Coupeville’s coach slid his starting five – Maddie Georges, Nezi Keiper, Gwen Gustafson, Alita Blouin, and Carolyn Lhamon – back into the game, and let them put the hammer down.

And they did, closing the game on a 9-0 run, started by Keiper pounding down low and utterly annihilating her defender in the paint.

After that, her buddy in the post, Lhamon, snatched the spotlight, throwing down five of the game’s final seven points.

One bucket came on a nice roll to the hoop, set up by a pinpoint pass off the fingers of Georges, while another showcased Lhamon’s skills in the open court.

Leading a one-woman charge down the floor, Lhamon broke every bone in her defender’s body, faking left, then slashing hard to the right, all while on the move.

As the backpedaling Turk went down in a crumpled pile of misery and regret, the Wolf ace pulled the ball back into her body to keep it away from a different defender, then banged home the layup.

The run, one unbroken charge from coast to coast, was a thing of beauty, even more so coming from a player who gets the majority of her points working with her back to the basket.

Coupeville used sustained runs like that 9-0 swan song to set the pace all afternoon.

The Wolves closed the first quarter on an 8-2 surge, punctuated by Hayley Fiedler drilling the bottom of the bucket out with a long-range bomb.

In the second quarter, it was a 6-0 run to close the half, then, in the third, CMS capped the quarter with an 8-0 tear.

The one constant through it all was “The Assassin,” zippy guard Alita Blouin, who blew by the Turks for buckets, then jumped outside to nail a three-ball from the top of the arc.

Coupeville spread its offensive attack out nicely, with Blouin topping the scoring chart with nine points, while Lhamon banked home seven, and Keiper popped for five.

Georges (4), Gustafson (4), Fiedler (2), and Ryanne Knoblich (2), who looked deathly ill, yet hit the boards with her usual ferocity, rounded out the scoring.

Mixing and matching his lineups, Evans was able to get a whopping 16 players floor time.

Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson, Melanie Navarro, Jill Prince, Jordyn Rogers, Claire Mayne, Jessenia Camarena, Cristine McGrath, Abigail Ramirez, and Adrian Burrows all saw action.

Camarena was a particular standout on this day, ripping down rebounds and playing an enforcer role.

In the midst of another Wolf win, this one coming in the final home game, the game’s enduring moment was crafted by a ref, however.

Coming out of halftime, one of the two officials was late to return to the floor. When he did, he turned and blindly lobbed the ball cross-court to his partner, only to drill a hapless Sultan player in the back of the head.

 

7th grade:

The Wolves were missing four players, including leading scorer Brionna Blouin, and fell 21-9.

The loss drops the young guns to 2-7 on the season.

Take away the first quarter, when Sultan romped to a 12-0 lead as the basket displayed a harsh, unforgiving nature whenever a Coupeville shot came its way, and the game was a tie.

Sparked by Lauren Marrs, who pumped in seven of her team’s points, the Wolves put up a strong fight over the game’s final 21 minutes.

Desi Ramirez finally got CMS on the board when she plucked a rebound free, then swished a fall-away shot over a sea of Turk arms with 2:30 left to play in the opening half.

Marrs immediately followed by gunning it up-court on Coupeville’s next possession, weaving through a pack of defenders jammed together in the paint, and slapping home a running layup.

But, just as quickly as the Wolves hit those back-to-back buckets, the basket went back to being a jerk, spitting out any and all offerings from CMS.

Other than a Marrs free throw right before halftime, Coupeville couldn’t get anything to drop until midway through the fourth quarter.

By that time the Wolves trailed 20-5, thanks to a couple of offensive rebound put-backs by the Turks, and a glaring lack of traveling calls being whistled on a Sultan team which seemed to have studied with James “I’ll take five steps, thanks” Harden.

Marrs finally broke the drought, with a pair of sweetly-crafted buckets.

On the first, she curled around the defense, then slashed through a tiny gap for a layup. The second, a breakaway bucket, was set up by a strong outlet pass from Mayne.

Each Wolf to see action chipped in with something, from Reese Wilkinson playing strongly on the boards, to Kaitlyn Leavell streaking down floor, ahead of the play, almost every single time.

Allison Nastali, Skylar Parker, Karyme Castro, and Erica McGrath rounded out the active roster, with all four fighting until the final buzzer for coach Megan Smith.

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Alita Blouin (10) is out in front of the pack, on her way to slapping home yet another layup. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

294 points.

Well, at least that’s my best guess.

As the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball squads make the turn at the halfway point of the season, that’s what the three units have combined to score across 14 games.

Both the 7th grade varsity and the 8th grade JV team have played five times, and have another five tilts left on the schedule.

The 8th grade varsity, stung by King’s and Northshore Christian not fielding teams, sits with four in the books and five to play.

Now, if I was super-productive, I would have tracked all the rebounds, assists, personal fouls, and other stats as the season has unfolded.

Yeah, didn’t happen…

But, while I might not have achieved statistical nirvana, I have managed to track the gaudiest of all stats – who scored.

At home games, I had my own numbers, and compared them to the official score-books.

When the Wolves were on the road, I went off of the books, which fluctuated in quality depending on whether a Coupeville person was doing them, or whether a local scrawled a pencil across the page.

So, it may not be 100% correct, but I feel pretty confident that it’s at least 97.24% dead-on.

 

The points race:

 

8th varsity (four games):

Nezi Keiper – 32
Carolyn Lhamon – 31
Maddie Georges – 30
Alita Blouin – 15
Gwen Gustafson – 8
Ryanne Knoblich – 7
Jill Prince – 4
Hayley Fiedler – 2
Trinity McGee – 2
Jordyn Rogers – 2

 

7th varsity (five games):

Brionna Blouin – 59
Lauren Marrs – 27
Reese Wilkinson – 8
Desi Ramirez – 7
Erica McGrath – 4
Kayla Arnold – 2
Allison Nastali – 2
Skylar Parker – 2

 

8th JV (five games):

Trinity McGee – 10
Jessenia Camarena – 6
Mercedes Kalwies-Anderson – 6
Ryanne Knoblich – 6
Cristina McGrath – 6
Adrian Burrows – 4
Karyme Castro – 4
Claire Mayne – 4
Melanie Navarro – 2
Jordyn Rogers – 2

 

**There is no 7th grade JV.**

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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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Coupeville’s Nezi Keiper (with ball) battles down low with Langley’s Morgan Batchelor, while getting mugged from behind. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Carolyn Lhamon denies a Langley shot.

Gwen Gustafson remains calm in the eye of the storm, waiting for the play to develop.

Wolf fans come to a consensus. “The snow is melting! The snow is melting!!”

If you can’t see Maddie Georges’ eyes, you have no way of knowing which way she’s about to pass.

Ema Smith lays down the law. “The clock starts when I say it starts, Skippy.”

Helene Lhamon implores the Wolves to make a defensive stop. Spoiler alert: they did.

Ryanne Knoblich fires a pass into the key during Coupeville’s come-from-behind win.

Finally a break in the snow and ice.

That gave the Coupeville Middle School girls basketball teams a chance to play Wednesday, while also allowing paparazzi John Fisken to check and see if his cameras had unfrozen.

They had, and the pics above, which capture action from the 8th grade varsity game, are courtesy him.

To see everything Fisken shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2018-2019-boys-and-girls/MSGBB-2019-02-13-vs-South-Whidbey/

And, when you go, remember any purchases help fund scholarships for CHS senior student/athletes.

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