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Gavin Knoblich and the Coupeville High School varsity boys hoops squad host a playoff game Saturday. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’re coming home.

A narrow loss at Sultan Tuesday night in the regular-season finale means the Coupeville High School boys varsity basketball squad will open the playoffs on their own court.

Despite 23 points from senior sniper Mason Grove, the Wolves fell 66-59 to the Turks in a game which decided the #4 and #5 playoff seeds from the North Sound Conference.

Coupeville finished league play at 2-7, a game off of Sultan, which swept the season series from the Wolves to go 3-6.

As a #4 seed, CHS would have advanced straight away to the double-elimination portion of the district playoffs.

Instead, as a #5 seed, the Wolves, who sit at 6-12 overall, will host Mount Baker, the #4 seed from the Northwest Conference, in a loser-out play-in game.

That rumble goes down Saturday, February 8, with tip-off set for 7 PM.

Mount Baker is 5-14 with one regular-season game left to play, but the Mountaineers play in a 1A/2A/3A league, which tends to skew records a bit.

Win Saturday, and the Wolves move on to play games Feb. 10 and 12.

To see the playoff bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=3213&sport=3

Coming off an emotional Senior Night win over Granite Falls in which it punched its playoff ticket, Coupeville was looking for a bit of revenge against Sultan.

The first time around, the Wolves led for much of the game, before falling by five.

This time out, CHS stayed close, but couldn’t get over the hump.

Grove nailed the first two of his game-high seven three-balls in the opening quarter, while fellow backcourt gunner Hawthorne Wolfe added four points, but Coupeville trailed 17-13 at the first break.

From there, Sultan, which got double-digits scoring from three players, stretched the lead to 32-26 at the half, clung to a 52-47 advantage after three quarters, and held on for the crucial win.

While the Turks got 42 points combined from the trio of Austin Wood (16), Tyler Sargent (14), and Jeremy John (12), Coupeville’s big three virtually matched them.

Grove, who hit at least one three-ball in every quarter as he put up 23, was backed by sophomores Xavier Murdy (9) and Wolfe (8).

Sean Toomey-Stout (4), Gavin Knoblich (4), Koa Davison (4), Jered Brown (3), Jacobi Pilgrim (2), and Ulrik Wells (2) also scored, as every Wolf to hit the floor put the ball through the hoop.

It was a milestone night for Grove, as the senior cracked the 400-point club.

Heading into his final playoff run, he has 405 points, putting him #57 on the CHS boys hoops career scoring list, which stretches across 103 seasons.

Wolfe is just a three-ball away from joining his older teammate in the club, and his 397 points has him sitting #59 all-time.

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Don’t look now, but the playoffs are around the corner. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

We’re down to the final days.

Both Coupeville High School varsity basketball teams have just one regular-season game left on the schedule, then it’s on to the playoffs.

Win or lose Tuesday, when they host South Whidbey on Senior Night, the Wolf girls are locked in as the #3 seed from the North Sound Conference.

Things are a little more up in the air for the CHS boys, who travel to Sultan Tuesday for their finale.

Win, and they go into the postseason as a #4 seed, and get automatic entry into the double-elimination portion of the district playoffs.

Lose to the Turks, and Coupeville’s boys will carry a #5 seed and host a loser-out play-in game against Mount Baker.

As we head towards those regular-season finales, a quick look at where things stand:

 

North Sound Conference girls basketball:

School League Overall
King’s 5-0 14-5
CPC-Bothell 8-1 15-5
Coupeville 5-3 11-5
South Whidbey 3-5 9-10
Sultan 2-6 6-13
Granite Falls 0-8 4-16

 

North Sound Conference boys basketball:

School League Overall
King’s 6-0 10-9
South Whidbey 7-1 15-3
CPC-Bothell 6-3 12-7
Coupeville 2-6 6-11
Sultan 2-6 4-14
Granite Falls 1-8 3-17

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Mason Grove knocked down 21 points Friday as Coupeville won on Senior Night and punched its playoff ticket. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hawthorne Wolfe added 18 points, including four free throws in the final moments to clinch the win.

Playoffs? We’re talking about the playoffs.

Rallying from an eight-point second-half deficit on Senior Night Friday, the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball squad beat visiting Granite Falls 75-72.

With the win, the Wolves, who honored 11 seniors in pre-game ceremonies, improve to 2-6 in North Sound Conference play, 6-11 overall.

They also clinch a postseason berth, and will play their regular-season finale next Tuesday, Feb. 4, to decide if they are the #4 or #5 seed from their league.

Beat Sultan on its home floor, and Coupeville is #4 and opens the double-elimination district playoffs Feb. 10 on the road against Lynden Christian (13-4), the #1 seed from the Northwest Conference.

Lose Tuesday to the Turks, and the Wolves host Mount Baker (5-13), the #4 seed from the NWC, Feb. 8 in a loser-out game.

However the rumble with Sultan plays out, Friday’s win gives the CHS hoops stars a huge boost.

“It was a big win for our seniors on Senior Night, and we responded really well after halftime,” said Coupeville coach Brad Sherman. “I’m really proud of how hard they played to get that W.”

The game was decided under the bright lights of the fourth quarter, a time when the Wolves got points from six different players and refused to crack under pressure.

Holding a 54-51 lead entering the final frame, with that advantage thanks to Mason Grove rifling home a three-ball to end the third quarter, CHS was still on edge.

It had nothing to worry about, however, as one Wolf after another came through in crunch time, turning back a scrappy Tiger squad which knew it would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss.

The teams traded blows, but Coupeville never gave back the lead in the fourth.

The Wolves attacked in waves, with Jacobi Pilgrim muscling his way inside for a key put-back off of an offensive rebound, and Grove sinking a trey which hit the rim, started to go down, popped back up, then flopped back through.

Coupeville hit the boards with great intensity, controlling the paint, and it paid off.

Sophomore sensation Xavier Murdy, who missed a huge chunk of the season recovering from a preseason injury, has been a jolt of lightning since his return, and Friday showcased all the different weapons he has at his disposal.

With the lead in doubt, X-Man came through with two epically big rebound put-backs, then he slid to the side and let some of his senior counterparts pen their part of the winning tale.

Gavin Knoblich, a grinder and a hustler who lives to do the down ‘n dirty work, netted a bucket down low, then put a perfect pass on to the fingertips of fellow big man Koa Davison as he rolled through the paint on his way to the promised land.

But, even with all that, the game wasn’t decided until sophomore Hawthorne Wolfe, who spent the days leading up to this game working relentlessly on his free throw shooting, iced things.

Tuning out the deafening screams of Granite’s JV players, who thought (wrongly) they could buffalo him, Joan McPherson’s grandson calmly, quietly, laid down the law, scoring Coupeville’s final five points from the line.

As each charity shot arced upwards, then splashed downwards, the Tiger faithful choked on their screams, while the Wolf faithful went progressively more bonkers for Wolfe (and his dead-eye shooting).

The final two times he strolled to the line, while being slapped and talked-up by a fired-up Grove, Wolfe sank both of his chances, pushing three-point leads out to five and erasing Granite’s chance to tie the game on a three-ball.

Trailing 75-70 with under 20 seconds to play, the Tigers ran headlong into a ferocious final defensive stand, and meekly surrendered, unable to do anything other than toss in a largely meaningless layup as the clock struck 0.9 seconds to play.

That set off a celebration for a CHS team deep in seniors, and a jam-packed gym which had come out to hail what might have been their final moments on their home hardwood.

Both teams had begun the game with fire in their bellies, and a deep desire to grab an early advantage.

Only problem is, both rims refused to accept any incoming shots for a very long time.

Three minutes and 18 seconds of scoreless ball later, Coupeville broke through on a pair of Grove free throws, then things got goin’.

Ulrik Wells popped for six points in the opening frame, hitting a pair of jumpers off nice feeds from Wolfe and Grove, packaged around a rebound put-back, and CHS went to the first break up 16-14.

After the teams played through five ties in the first frame, they tacked on two more (momentary) stalemates in the second quarter, the last at 26-26.

Grove airmailed a pair of three-balls to keep the Tigers jumpy, but a late mini-run by Granite helped the visitors carry a 40-34 lead to the halftime locker room.

The margin stretched out to eight early in the third quarter, but then Coupeville’s gunners, a Three Musketeers trio made up of young upstarts Murdy and Wolfe, plus grizzled old-timer Grove, went to work.

X coaxed a three-ball through the net to start the comeback, while Hawk ripped off back-to-back treys, the first tying the game at 44-44, the second shoving Coupeville back into the lead.

While there would be one more tie after Wolfe’s second bomb, at 51-51 right before Grove dropped a punctuation mark at the end of the third, CHS never trailed again.

Granite kept coming, kept fighting, but Coupeville had an answer each time, whether it was Wells rejecting a shot into the rafters, or Davison imploring his teammates to keep their intensity sky-high during a timeout.

As his team celebrated with their parents, fellow students, and fans, Sherman was able to gaze at the scorebook and enjoy an especially well-balanced scoring performance.

Grove popped for a game-high 21, while Wolfe rattled the rims for 18, and Murdy banked in 17.

Davison (9), Wells (6), Pilgrim (2), and Knoblich (2) also scored, with Sean Toomey-Stout yanking down endless rebounds, Jered Brown running the point with precision, and Jean Lund-Olsen giving the Wolves a jolt of electricity in the early going while making his first start.

With sophomores Murdy and Wolfe the only non-seniors on the varsity roster, Sherman also honored Chris Cernick, Tucker Hall, and Chris Ruck during opening ceremonies.

While the focus was rightfully on the win and the approaching departure of the seniors, stat fans can also take a moment to note that Coupeville’s leading scorers, Wolfe and Grove, continue to climb the career scoring list.

After entering the night #64 and #68 all-time, respectively, for a program in its 103rd season, they exited the court as #59 and #61.

Separated by just seven points (Wolfe has 389, Grove 382), the duo leapfrogged former CHS greats such as JD Wilcox, Chad Gale, and Mike Millenbach.

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Avalon Renninger hit one bucket Friday, and it was huge. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Just win, baby.

It was the mantra of the Oakland Raiders during their Super Bowl-winning heyday, and it fits for the current Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball squad as well.

The Wolves have been a work in progress this season, but a successful one.

They’ve endured some shooting woes, from the field and the line, but hard work on the boards, a feisty mentality on defense, and some clutch shooting when it matters most, has kept CHS alive and thriving.

Case in point, Friday night, as the Wolves overcame an epic cold spell and found a way to turn on the heat in crunch time, using a fourth-quarter run to crack visiting Granite Falls.

Closing the game on a 14-2 run, with four different players scoring, Coupeville pulled out a come-from-behind 41-32 win and set themselves up nicely for the playoffs.

With the win, the Wolves improve to 5-3 in North Sound Conference play and clinch the league’s #3 postseason seed behind King’s and Cedar Park Christian.

Now 11-5 overall, Coupeville closes the regular season Tuesday at home, with Senior Night on tap, and South Whidbey (3-5, 9-10) the opponent.

The double-elimination district playoffs kick off Feb. 10, and Coupeville will be on the road at the home of the #2 Northwest Conference team.

That should be Nooksack Valley (13-4), a team the Wolves lost to 52-30 right before winter break.

A win sends CHS on to play NSC league champ King’s, while a loss pits them against either the #5 NSC team (Sultan) or the #4 NWC squad (Meridian or Mount Baker).

Either way the second game is Feb. 11.

Win their opener, and the Wolves travel to Shoreline. Lose, and they host game two.

Friday night’s fracas, which pitted the Wolves against a cellar-dweller team, was always going to be tough, regardless of records.

Granite Falls hasn’t won many games this season, but the Tigers are a physical, scrappy squad which doesn’t go down easily.

Coupeville got a taste of that a week-and-a-half back, when it escaped Granite with a one-point win, and Friday’s game, after a great start, quickly went the same way.

In the early going, CHS coach Scott Fox might have been feeling pretty good, as the Wolves roared out to a 14-6 lead before the first quarter was done.

Hannah Davidson drilled the bottom out of the net on a lil’ jumper from the side to kick off the scoring, then almost all of her teammates jumped on the scoring train.

Scout Smith, Maddie Georges, Izzy Wells, and Chelsea Prescott all scored during the opening surge, with Georges pulling off a three-point play the hard way on a full-court drive, layup in traffic, and free throw.

Prescott swished back-to-back jumpers from the side, with the second coming off a very long rebound which found its way right into her hands, and things looked peachy.

And then they didn’t.

Covering a period which stretched from the final minute or so of the first quarter until halfway through the third quarter, Coupeville found new and creative ways to NOT make buckets.

The Wolves had good look after even better look, often thanks to aggressive work on defense, but the rim just wasn’t having it.

Shots popped up, rolled sideways, dribbled out, swirled around and died, and flat out refused to stay down.

CHS could only get two shots to drop through the net in the second quarter — a long jumper from Georges and a slashing layup from Smith off a run up the middle — and the Wolves were in trouble.

But not as much as they could have been.

The aforementioned aggressive defense, keyed by Smith slapping 1,001 balls out of the hands of Tiger guards, kept the Wolves close.

Also helping out was strong work on the glass from Davidson, Izzy Wells, and freshman brawler Carolyn Lhamon, and Coupeville went in to the locker room at the half trailing just 20-18.

Neither team could score for the first half of the third quarter, but for different reasons.

The Wolves still couldn’t get the rim to play nice, while Granite flat out couldn’t get a shot off, as Smith, backed by Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer, drove their ballhandlers batty.

The dry spell finally, mercifully ended some four minutes into the third frame, when Renninger, rolling to her left, lofted up a ball and banked it off the glass, earning a deep sigh of relief from her coach.

That seemed to bust things open, a bit at least.

Wells rolled under her defender for a bucket in the paint, Georges dropped a three-ball from the top of the arc, and Wurzrainer absolutely drilled a pull-up jumper once things started rolling.

But Granite wouldn’t break, converting a breakaway bucket to end the third, then slapping home another layup to open the final frame.

Up 30-27, the Tigers could see the victory.

Then again, they might want to check their vision.

Backs to the wall, the Wolves came through one more time, just as they have done again and again this season, pulling yet another victory out of the jaws of defeat.

Free throws knotted the game at 30-30, before Smith delivered the sucker punch, nailing a jumper just inside the three-point line after Prescott punched a ball free, then chased it down and fed her running mate.

Add another three-ball from Georges, a freshman who shoots like a senior, and a couple of sweet jumpers from wily veterans Prescott and Davidson, and the damage was done.

The furious finale capped a game in which seven Wolves tallied points.

Georges led the way with 11, while Smith (9), Davidson (7), Prescott (6), Wells (4), Renninger (2), and Wurzrainer (2) also filled up the scorebook.

Lhamon, Audrianna Shaw, and Kylie Van Velkinburgh also saw floor time for the Wolves.

The game marked a personal milestone for Davidson, as she became the 100th CHS girl to score 100 points during their prep career.

Her game-opening bucket was the big one, and with 105 points by night’s end, she now sits at #97 all-time for a modern-day Wolf program which began play in 1974.

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Mason Grove pumped in a team-best 20 points Tuesday night, pacing the Coupeville varsity in its battle with South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Well, that was something.

In a game which featured three technical fouls called on a South Whidbey squad which seemed to do an awful lot of whining, the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball team showed grit and passion Tuesday, but couldn’t overcome a substantial height disadvantage.

The Falcons, who feature four players between 6-foot-7 and 6’4, are a talented team, and they showed it, earning a season sweep of the Wolves with a 76-65 win.

The victory lifts South Whidbey to 6-1 in North Sound Conference play, 14-3 overall, headed into a Friday tango with King’s (6-0, 10-9).

The Knights, whose record is deceptive, as the 1A state title contenders have spent the season playing a ton of 3A and 4A schools, ran the Falcons off the floor the first time they met, crushing them 78-45.

Win Friday to seal a perfect league mark, and King’s will give South Whidbey plenty more to kvetch about.

Coupeville, which sits at 1-6 in league play, 5-11 overall, is in a battle with Sultan (2-5, 4-13) and Granite Falls (1-6, 3-15) for the #4 and #5 playoff seeds from the NSC.

The Wolves welcome Granite to town Friday, then travel to Sultan Feb. 4 for the season finale.

Tuesday’s battle for Whidbey produced some stellar basketball, liberally mixed with some hard fouls, though the technical fouls came not for scrappiness, but for South Whidbey’s apparent love of flapping its gums.

Not to make too much out of things, but we’re 92% into the season, and no collection of players that I’ve seen this year has spent so much time complaining, making faces, whispering sweet nothings at the refs out of the side of their mouths, and losing their cool on what seemed like EVERY SINGLE PLAY.

Big props to Dexter Jokinen, South Whidbey’s senior guard, who played with great intensity, but took calls good and bad in stride, merely nodding his head and quickly moving on to gutting the Wolves.

Maybe it was a one-night thing. Maybe not.

I’ve only see the Falcons play once this season, since I was sick the first time they played Coupeville in Langley, but good lord, if you’re going to make a solid playoff run and represent Whidbey, you all need to suck it up, buttercups.

You crack like this against a scrappy underdog team, you are going to implode when you face a Lynden Christian.

Come on, be like Jokinen. That dude gets it.

Anyways, let the hate mail flow I guess, Falcon faithful. It’s been a hot moment or two since I managed to tick off the South end of the Island.

The game itself, in between the frequent freak-outs, was your usual intense Island rivalry clash.

South Whidbey has talent, and can sting you from multiple directions, whether it’s Sterling Patton raining three-balls or Carson Wrightson roaring through the paint and finishing with a nasty two-handed dunk.

Coupeville responded in the early going with a couple of quick buckets from senior Mason Grove, who nailed his own trey, before slapping home a layup off of a dish from sophomore Xavier Murdy.

After that, X marked the spot, as the now healthy and ready to rumble CHS young gun ripped off his team’s next 10 points.

Showing off his rapidly-developing skill set, Murdy got his points in a variety of ways, hitting from range while also crashing hard to the hoop for three-point plays the hard way.

Tack on a couple of free throws from Jacobi Pilgrim and Jered Brown, then another Grove three-ball, with this one set up by a kick-out from Ulrik Wells, and the Wolves led 21-20 at the first break.

It was a huge change from the first time these teams met, when Coupeville fell behind 14-0 in a hail of turnovers.

CHS continued to fight hard through the second quarter, but the Falcons closed the half on a 9-4 run, stretching a three-point margin out to eight at 43-35.

A little runner in the paint from Hawthorne Wolfe to open the third quarter had thoughts of a comeback in the air, but then South Whidbey asserted its dominance to make things tougher.

Despite missing six consecutive free throws during the run, the Falcons put together a 9-0 surge to put the lead into double-digits for the first time.

Coupeville actually outscored the visitors 28-24 the rest of the way, but the damage was done, as the Wolves were unable to get all the way back.

Coming down the back stretch, they did get a ferocious block from Pilgrim, who caught a Falcon shooter just as he came off the floor, then rejected the ball off the back wall to loud applause from the Wolf student section.

“We put up a great, hard-fought effort against a tough basketball team,” said Coupeville coach Brad Sherman.

“This team really does not ever quit,” he added. “They kept scrapping and stopped several runs when they could have been blown out.”

Grove finished the game with a team-high 20 points, while Nick Young paced the Falcons with 21.

Koa Davison, who played strongly down low in the paint, banged home 11 to match Murdy, with Sean Toomey-Stout (7), Wolfe (5), Wells (4), Gavin Knoblich (4), Brown (2), and Pilgrim (1) also scoring.

Jean Lund-Olsen also saw floor time for CHS.

Coupeville’s top scorers this season, Wolfe and Grove, continue to climb the program’s career scoring chart.

Wolfe, a sophomore, has 371 points as a prep player, and jumped from #67 to #64 all-time Tuesday, passing Ray Harvey (368), Caesar Kortuem (369), and Ty Blouin (369).

His senior teammate scaled six players with his 20-point night, moving from #74 to #68 on a list which covers 103 seasons of CHS hoops action.

Grove sits with 361 career points, having passed former Coupeville greats like Pat Brown and Glenn Losey.

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