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Hannah Davidson and her fellow seniors will get another game at home. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

CHS coach Scott Fox discusses strategy with his team.

They took a few shots to the rib cage, but are still standing.

The Coupeville High School girls basketball team absorbed a 61-15 loss at Nooksack Valley Monday in its district playoff opener, but lives to play another day.

Now 12-6 on the season, the Wolves, the #3 seed from the North Sound Conference, host Meridian (10-12) Tuesday in a loser-out game.

Tip-off is 7 PM.

The Trojans, the #4 team from the Northwest Conference, beat Sultan 65-34 in a play-in game Feb. 8, then were nipped 42-36 Monday by NSC #1 King’s.

A loss Tuesday in the CHS gym is a season-ender for either team, while the winner is guaranteed two more playoff games Feb. 13 and 15.

Win at least one of those two, and you advance on to bi-districts, a step away from the state tourney.

To see the playoff bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=3214&sport=12

Monday night was a rematch, with Coupeville facing a team it lost to by 22 points in a non-conference game right before winter break.

Things were rougher this time around, as the Wolves fell behind 19-3 after the first eight minutes and never recovered.

A ball-hawking Nooksack defense pressured Coupeville into multiple turnovers and the Pioneers converted their extra chances into quick, game-busting buckets.

Up 34-9 at the half, the host team continued to stretch the lead out from there.

Holding Coupeville scoreless in the third quarter, Nooksack carried a 46-9 advantage into the final frame, then continued to run wild with its backups in the game.

The Pioneers finished with three players in double figures, led by McKenna Wichers, who banked in a game-high 14 points.

Kora Larsen and Maya Galley added 11 apiece.

“We ran into a buzz saw,” said CHS coach Scott Fox. “They played stifling defense and precision offense.

“It started off ugly and we couldn’t get anything started. Congrats to them!”

With the game out of control and another playoff bout hurtling towards them in less than 24 hours, Fox rested his starters early, giving his back-ups a chance to play quality minutes in the crucible.

Anya Leavell came off the bench to lead Coupeville’s scoring attack with eight points, while fellow sophomore Audrianna Shaw chipped in with four.

Tia Wurzrainer (2) and Avalon Renninger (1) also scored, while Scout Smith, Chelsea Prescott, Hannah Davidson, Mollie Bailey, Izzy Wells, Kylie Van Velkinburgh, Carolyn Lhamon, and Maddie Georges saw floor time for the Wolves.

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Jacobi Pilgrim was a key part of a very-deep group of CHS senior basketball players. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hawthorne Wolfe will return.

He and fellow sophomore Xavier Murdy were the only non-seniors on this year’s Coupeville High School boys basketball team, unless we also count brief cameos from Daniel Olson and Grady Rickner.

But it’s Hawk and X who will be looked to as the leaders when the Wolf hoops program moves into a new era, and a new league, next season.

So it’s a true positive that, as he exited the gym Saturday after Coupeville fell 69-48 to visiting Mount Baker in a loser-out playoff game, Wolfe only had one thing on his mind.

“I just want to say how much these seniors, all of them, mean to me,” he said.

Saturday’s loss ended Coupeville’s season, a win shy of making it to the double-elimination round of the district tourney, while Baker moves on to play King’s next week.

While the Wolves finished 6-13, they were just a few plays away from wins in half their losses, and never failed to sell out every time on the floor.

That traces back to the work put in by the Class of 2020, said CHS coach Brad Sherman.

“They’re a really cool group of kids, and I’m very proud of them,” he said. “Of how hard they always played, and how they played with a lot of class.”

Sherman also pointed to the positive impact the Wolf seniors had on helping CHS basketball coaches rebuild the youth program aimed at bringing elementary school children into the sport.

With sessions held on Saturday mornings, the Coupeville players often had to pull themselves back out of bed after Friday night games, but they always did.

And right at the forefront, each time, coaching, reffing, teaching and inspiring, were the 12th graders.

“A lot of people are getting excited about Coupeville basketball again,” Sherman said. “The seniors have put in so much work the last couple of years, and are such a huge part of what we’re doing.

“We’ve grown the youth program from 20-30 kids to 80, and a lot of it is because of that senior group,” he added.

“We told them, they should be proud of all of that, win, lose, or otherwise. There is nothing to hang our heads about.”

Six seniors made their final appearance on the CHS floor Saturday — Mason Grove, Koa Davison, Jacobi Pilgrim, Ulrik Wells, Gavin Knoblich, and Jered Brown, who was the lone Wolf to play on the varsity all four seasons.

Coupeville loses 11 seniors total, with Tucker Hall, Chris Ruck, Jean Lund-Olsen, Chris Cernick, and Sean Toomey-Stout also departing.

Toomey-Stout, a one-man wrecking crew who has used his springy legs, tenacious attitude, and hands o’ steel to top the Wolves in most stat categories the past two years, was out of state for a family funeral.

With “The Torpedo” not in action, that left Coupeville at a disadvantage on the boards, something which was compounded when Davison was injured shortly after scoring his team’s first bucket of the night.

The lanky big man hobbled back on the floor to play in the fourth quarter, but his absence for 2.5 quarters hurt on a night when Coupeville had a short bench.

Mount Baker entered the playoffs at just 5-15, but comes out of the ultra-competitive 1A/2A/3A Northwest Conference, which skews records.

The Mountaineers, while they didn’t have a ton of height, were quick, efficient, aggressive, and deadly shooters.

None more so than junior Braedan Hart, who tagged Coupeville for 31 points, hitting seven shots from behind the three-point arc.

The Wolves never led, falling behind 10-2 to start the first quarter, but fought back and kept the game close until a third quarter letdown.

Murdy rippled the nets for a three-ball of his own to stop Baker’s initial run, then Wolfe collected Coupeville’s final six points of the opening quarter, slashing hard to the hoop for buckets against a ferocious defense.

Down 18-11 at the first break, Coupeville put together a 7-0 run midway through the second quarter to cut the lead to five, and had the deficit back to four with seconds to play in the half.

Hart delivered a dagger, however, burying a three-ball right before the break to stake the Mountaineers to a 32-25 advantage.

Grove opened the second half with a trey which sweetly dropped through the net, then Wells rolled into the paint and hit a soft jumper and we had a game at 34-30.

But then the offense vanished.

Coupeville shots which were dropping started clanging instead, and a scrambling Baker defense forced several key turnovers, fueling a 15-3 surge which put the Wolves on their heels.

The only positive in the stretch was a three-ball from the top of the arc by Knoblich, but that wasn’t enough to stem the tide, and the deficit soared from four to 16 as the end of the quarter neared.

The Wolves never got closer than 14 after that, and Hart banged away for 11 of his 31 in the final frame, helping make the final score seem more lopsided than it really was for much of the night.

Coupeville’s sophomore duo paced the team in scoring, with Wolfe banking in 13 points, and Murdy adding 10.

Grove went off for all nine of his points in the second half, and his final made shot, a fourth-quarter three-ball, gave him the season scoring crown in the closest race the CHS boys hoops program has seen in 103 seasons.

The man who will launch from anywhere finished his final campaign with 254 points, narrowly edging Wolfe, who tossed in 252 this season.

The two-point differential is the smallest ever between Coupeville’s #1 and #2 varsity scorers, after three previous teams saw a three-point difference.

In 1993-1994, Brad Miller edged Gabe McMurray 238-235, in 1990-1991 Jason McFadyen held off Sean Dillon 261-258, and way back in 1939-1940, Banky Fisher topped Gaylord Stidham 44-41.

And yes, that really is supposed to say just 44-41. It was a way different game back then.

Grove, who was a swing player as a sophomore, then a full-time varsity gunner the past two seasons, departs having scored 414 points, which puts him #54 on the CHS boys career scoring chart.

Wolfe, with two seasons ahead of him, has 410 points (the most scored by a Coupeville boy through their sophomore season) and is #55 all-time.

CHS got scoring from almost everyone on the floor Saturday, with Wells (8), Knoblich (3), Davison (2), Pilgrim (2), and Brown (1) also tallying points.

The lone Wolf not to score was sophomore Grady Rickner, a JV star who got to make a late-game appearance, a herald of positive things to come.

 

Final (unofficial) season scoring stats:

Mason Grove – 254
Hawthorne Wolfe
– 252
Sean Toomey-Stout
– 113
Xavier Murdy
– 95
Koa Davison
– 83
Ulrik Wells
– 74
Jacobi Pilgrim
– 67
Jered Brown
– 56
Gavin Knoblich
– 56
Jean Lund-Olsen
– 10
Tucker Hall
– 6
Daniel Olson
– 2

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Morgan Stevens and the Coupeville JV are 4-2 headed into winter break. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Some games the basket just plays unfair.

Saturday afternoon the rim and the net conspired against the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad, holding the Wolves to a season-low in points during a 28-9 loss to visiting Nooksack Valley.

The non-conference loss snaps a three-game winning streak for CHS, which heads into winter break sitting at 4-2 on the season.

The Wolves are off 16 days now, not returning to action until Jan. 7, when Cedar Park Christian comes to Whidbey.

The Coupeville varsity returns four days earlier, but their opponent, Chimacum, doesn’t have a JV squad this season.

Saturday’s tilt came against a strong foe which has held three of its six opponents to single-digit scoring.

The Nooksack JV limited Sedro-Woolley to just two points, and Sultan to four, so Coupeville’s nine point total, while low, is understandable.

Damage was done in the opening quarter, as the visiting Pioneers charged out to an 11-0 lead.

Holding the Wolves without a field goal in the first half, Nooksack stretched the margin to 16-2 at the half, with Coupeville’s scoring coming on free throws from freshmen Alita Blouin and Ryanne Knoblich.

CHS got off the schneid in the third thanks to field goals by Abby Mulholland and Knoblich and played Nooksack close to straight-up across the final two quarters.

Knoblich led the Wolves with three points, while Blouin, Mulholland, and Gwen Gustafson chipped in with two apiece.

Also seeing floor time for Megan Smith’s squad were Savana Allen, Natalie Castano, Samantha Streitler, Claire Mayne, Jessenia Camarena, Heidi Meyers, Morgan Stevens, and Ella Colwell.

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Jean Lund-Olsen, celebrating his 18th birthday Saturday, got the game’s biggest cheer when he scored on a breakaway in the fourth quarter. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One bad quarter crippled the Wolves Saturday afternoon.

But it was how the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball team bounced back which won the approval of its coach.

While CHS couldn’t fully overcome the effects of a 26-7 deficit at the first break, it did play visiting Nooksack Valley virtually even the rest of the game in a 71-48 loss.

The non-conference defeat sends the Wolves into the winter break with a 3-5 record and a lot of positives.

Having 12 days off between games may enable Coupeville to get back some of its injured and sick players — front court warriors Koa Davison, Gavin Knoblich, and Xavier Murdy sat out Saturday — while fine-tuning its game plan.

When they return, the Wolves travel to Chimacum Jan. 3 for a final non-league tilt, then wade into North Sound Conference play.

Saturday Coupeville opened with a crowd-pleasing play, getting a thunderous blocked shot from mop-topped big man Ulrik Wells in the opening moments.

Then, Nooksack went to work.

With the win on Whidbey, the Pioneers are 6-1 this season, with their only loss to 3A Ferndale, and they showed why, running their offense efficiently while dictating the flow of the game on defense.

Coupeville struggled to score in the opening quarter, with a put-back from Wells its lone basket during an opening 16-2 surge from the visitors.

A Hawthorne Wolfe free throw tossed a pebble in the way of Nooksack’s careening SUV, then a Mason Grove jumper and an inside bucket by Jacobi Pilgrim gave CHS a bit of hope.

With the refs calling everything, and then some, a foul-heavy game had already established a herky-jerky rhythm before the first quarter drug to an end.

Saddled with three quick-fire fouls, some more questionable than others, Sean Toomey-Stout, the beating heart of Coupeville’s defense, ended up handcuffed to the bench for much of the first half.

Grove soon followed him off the court, but, at the very least, the refs were quite content to call a lot of fouls on both teams, so numerous Pioneers also quickly discovered the joy of sitting.

That set up a second quarter which was a brawl, as both teams exchanged scoring plays one after another, with neither squad able to string together consecutive buckets over eight minutes which felt like eight hours.

Grove nailed a three-ball from the left side, while Tucker Hall had the best basket of the frame, slashing hard to the hoop where he found a pass from Wells awaiting him, setting up a wham-bam layup for the hard-working senior role player.

Hall did a little bit of everything in his time on the floor Saturday, twice drawing offensive charges on Pioneers flying in hot and out of control as they neared the hoop.

Actually, it arguably should have been three times, but the one call the refs didn’t give to Hall was the one where he bounced off the back wall after absorbing the blow.

Popping up a bit tenderly, he shook his head and smiled, getting congratulatory pats from his teammates, who all had better vision than the dude in the stripes.

Other than a brief lapse late in the third, when the Wolves took a quick snooze and allowed Nooksack to rip off a 14-0 run in approximately 12.3 seconds, Coupeville played strongly through the final three quarters.

Toomey-Stout, back on the floor, made a sensational airborne, one-handed save on a ball headed for the wall to open the third quarter.

Not only did he prevent a Wolf turnover, but the ever-springy one actually picked up an assist on the play, redirecting the ball right onto the fingertips of a waiting Jacobi Pilgrim, who slapped the rock home.

Even in a losing cause, Coupeville scrapped and fought in the game’s waning minutes, closing things on a 16-6 run.

A three-ball from Wolfe snapped out the bottom of the net, Grove snatched a rebound, slid sideways and netted a jumper on the move, and Jean Lund-Olsen got some birthday love.

The CHS senior, celebrating his 18th birthday, swished a free throw to get into the scoring column, before capping things with a driving layup on a breakaway, bringing the Wolf student section to hysterics.

Wolfe and Grove led the attack, finishing with 13 and 10 points, respectively, while Pilgrim (8), Wells (6), Jered Brown (6), Lund-Olsen (3), and Hall (2) also scored.

Toomey-Stout, pulling down a ton o’ rebounds (when the refs let him rumble) and Daniel Olson rounded out the active roster.

With 13 points Saturday, Wolfe reaches a major personal milestone, cracking the Top 100 on the CHS boys career scoring chart, which stretches back 103 seasons.

The sophomore guard has tallied 285 points in a hair under 1.5 seasons, and now sits #98 all-time.

He passed Alex Evans (272), Zepher Loesch (274), Boom Phomvongkoth (275), Kit Manzanares (275), Terry Roberts (277), Keith Jameson (277), and Mike Mallo (282) Saturday.

Grove, a senior, is making his own run up the chart, and with 249 points, is now #114 all-time.

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Scout Smith scored 12 points Saturday to pace Coupeville’s varsity in a brawl with Nooksack Valley. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Survive playing against the best, and you will likely prosper.

Saturday afternoon wasn’t exactly fun for the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball squad, but it should help prepare them for the road ahead.

Playing against a very-dangerous Nooksack Valley team, the Wolves battled almost evenly on the scoreboard in the second half, but couldn’t overcome an early deficit and fell 52-30 on their home floor.

The non-conference loss snaps a five-game winning streak and sends Coupeville into winter break carrying a 6-2 record on the season.

When the Wolves return to action Jan. 3, they’ll travel to Chimacum for one more non-league tune-up, before playing their final eight regular season games against North Sound Conference foes.

CHS, at 1-0 in league play, is currently tied with Cedar Park Christian atop the six-team conference standings.

Saturday’s game, coming against a top-notch 1A school which lives and thrives in a brutal 1A/2A/3A mega-conference, was always going to be one of the toughest games on Coupeville’s schedule.

But, like the saying goes, you have to beat the best to be the best.

Or, in this case, go toe-to-toe (and chest-to-chest) with the best to get better.

The chests in question belonged to Wolf freshman guard Maddie Georges and the poor Pioneer she obliterated on the game’s best play.

Senior point guard Scout Smith had the ball for Coupeville, and was looking for a slice of daylight to make a dash to the hoop.

Enter Georges, who delivered “The Screen o’ Death,” giving her older teammate room to rumble.

Some screens are half-hearted. Some screens are held for .00002 of a second, then forgotten about. Some screens arrive too late.

This screen, set by a scrappy frosh, was none of those things.

Georges slid into place and held fast, absorbing the collision and dropping the incoming, oblivious Pioneer flat on her butt, sending her sliding several feet across the shiny hardwood.

In a game which Coupeville lost, in a game against very strong competition, it was plays like that one, maybe only noticed by a handful of viewers, which speak the loudest.

Combine that with some smart, explosive scoring moves by seasoned pros SmithChelsea Prescott, and Avalon Renninger, and there was a lot to like about how the Wolves played.

The only problem is, Nooksack is a battle-hardened team which jumps on every mistake, no matter how small, and can turn one error into two or three quick buckets before the tide can be stemmed.

And that’s hard to counter.

Case in point, the first quarter, as Coupeville fell behind 6-0, then got a jolt to the nervous system when Izzy Wells came amblin’ up court, slid to the outside and drained a beauty of a three-ball from the left side.

The ball had barely finished rippling through the net, with the crowd’s screams still rising, and BAM, Nooksack answered with a three-ball of its own, followed by a steal and some ensuing free throws.

Wells slapped home a layup, off of Coupeville breaking the Pioneer press, but then WHAM, Nooksack stole an inbounds pass, turning the interception into a layup in one silky-smooth motion.

That was the tone of the game – the Wolves worked hard, pulled off a solid play, only to be gutted as Nooksack answered with an immediate hail of points.

Smith scorched the net for a three-ball from the side with just a few ticks left on the clock in the first quarter, but the Pioneers answered with their own trey to close the frame, then ran off 10 straight points to open the second.

Nooksack’s final bucket during that game-busting surge came off of a steal and breakaway, pushing the lead out to 26-8, but it also marked the end of the Pioneer domination.

From that moment on, the Wolves buckled down, and held their own over the final 2.5 quarters, hanging within 26-22 over the final 20 minutes.

Prescott stood tall, draining several pull-up jumpers with arms in her face, while Smith threw down three consecutive buckets during a 6-0 run of her own in the third quarter.

The middle one of that trio of baskets joined George’s “Screen o’ Death” as the other standout play of the game.

Looking for someone to inbound the ball to, Prescott suddenly reared back and, recalling her days as a baseball star in little league, hucked a full-court pass.

Out ahead of the defense, Smith never broke stride, hauling in the pass like older brother’s Hunter and CJ once did on the gridiron, before curving back inside and pounding home the layup.

Toss in a pretty dang gorgeous curling layup from Renninger, quality work on the boards from elbow-flingin’ freshman Carolyn Lhamon, and nice hustle from all involved, and the Wolves have little reason to hang their heads.

Coupeville is a good team, potentially a very good one, and it just ran into a well-seasoned, strongly-coached squad which should hold its own in their juggernaut of a league.

A loss is a loss, but some are better than others, and this very much lands in the category of a “good” loss.

Smith paced the Wolves with a team-high 12 points, taking her career total to 221 and counting.

She passed Linda Cheshier (210), Lisa Roehl (216), and Beth Mouw (216) on the all-time Wolf girls scoring chart, and is a bucket shy of tying Annette Jameson (223) for 50th place with a program which started in 1974.

Smith is not the only CHS player on the cusp of getting historical, however.

Prescott banged home seven to back her up, and, with 192 career points, is close to cracking the 200-point barrier herself.

Renninger and Wells rounded out Saturday’s scoring attack, with six and five points, respectively, while Anya Leavell, Mollie Bailey, Hannah Davidson, Georges, Lhamon, Audrianna Shaw, and Kylie Van Velkinburgh also saw floor time.

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