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Down two starters Friday, Coupeville pulled out a win at Sultan thanks to big performances from players such as freshmen Ja’Kenya Hoskins (left) and Izzy Wells. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When things were at their bleakest, they made their own sunshine.

It would have been so easy to lose Friday, but the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team flat-out refused.

Rallying against daunting odds, the Wolves pulled out the kind of win which can define a season, knocking off host Sultan 29-27 after Scout Smith drained a pair of pressure-packed free throws with 10 ticks left on the clock.

As a final Turks shot hit the back of the rim and bounced away, a weary but triumphant CHS squad rejoiced in the moment. Assessing the future will come later.

For the moment, the Wolves snap a three-game losing skid, while rising to 3-2 in North Sound Conference play, 5-7 overall.

They are in third-place, a game back of Cedar Park Christian (4-1), two off of King’s (5-0).

Granite Falls (2-3), Sultan (1-4) and South Whidbey (0-5) are in Coupeville’s rear-view mirror.

After four straight games on the road, CHS gets to play at home for the first time in a month, kicking off a four-game home-stand Jan. 15 with a game against Granite Falls.

As they head back to Whidbey, there is one potentially huge dark cloud hanging over the Wolves, however.

That’s the status of their leading scorer and rebounder, senior captain Lindsey Roberts.

The four-year varsity veteran, #23 all-time on the girls basketball career scoring chart, left Friday’s game early after suffering a dislocated and broken left ring finger.

The Wolves were already down another starter before they left Whidbey, with junior post player Hannah Davidson on crutches after spraining her ankle in practice earlier in the week.

Minus the duo, Coupeville’s remaining players stepped up big-time.

Unable to score for almost the entire first quarter, trailing by eight late in the third, the Wolves rallied to take their first lead of the night midway through the fourth quarter.

The 23-21 advantage came courtesy two free throws from Scout Smith, capping a 10-0 Wolf surge on which CHS scored mainly from the charity stripe.

Chelsea Prescott rippled the nets for four straight free throws to end the third, with the latter two set up by a huge offensive rebound from freshman Ja’Kenya Hoskins.

Fellow frosh Izzy Wells opened the fourth with her own pair of freebies, then senior captain Ema Smith drained a jumper before Scout Smith’s magic.

That set up a wild final couple of minutes, as the teams went through four ties down the stretch, though Coupeville never surrendered the lead after gaining it.

With Roberts and her 408 career points missing, Ema Smith played out of her mind, scoring a game-high 14, including six of those points with the game on the line.

Following up her early fourth-quarter jumper, she took control of the paint, scoring twice on power moves set up by nice feeds from her teammates.

First Prescott fired a laser shot through a maze of defenders, dropping the ball right on Ema’s waiting fingertips for a shot that went up, bounced around the rim 12 times, then softly flopped through the net.

Next time down the court it was Avalon Renninger running the point with precision, flicking a set-up pass to the hottest Wolf on the floor, who promptly banked the ball right back through the hoop.

Ema Smith’s final basket staked the Wolves to a 27-25 lead with a hair over a minute to play, and then things got a bit out of control.

As in neither team could hold on to the ball, exchanging turnovers on a series of wild passes which skipped every which way, before heading out of bounds and into the stands, which sit really close to the floor in Sultan.

The Turks finally broke through with 17 second to go, scoring their first field goal in a 10-minute span, knocking down a running layup to knot the game and give their fans a brief glimmer of hope.

Except Scout Smith is the Crusher of Spirits, and she fulfilled her role of becoming a full-fledged hardwood serial killer, gutting an entire town with two jabs.

Knocked to the floor and fouled by a hyped-up Turk, Scooter stared down an entire gym, sliding both of her free throws through the net, barely rippling the twine while never betraying a single emotion.

Something died, hard, in Sultan at that moment, both in their girls basketball team and the town itself.

And Scout Smith liked it.

As did her coach.

Scout has struggled all season with free throws,” David King said. “But tonight, CLUTCH!”

Sultan hurried down court and did get off a shot right before the buzzer, but, with the Wolf defense up in the shooter’s face, the desperation heave never had a chance.

The win capped a game that could have gone really badly in the early going.

Having lost Roberts, the Wolves failed to score until the final seconds of the first quarter. Thanks to a gritty defense, the deficit was just 5-0 when Ema Smith pulled in a pass from Scout Smith and buried a three-ball from the top of the arc.

Another trey from the Wolf senior and a handful of free throws kept Coupeville close, but it still trailed 14-10 at the half and 21-13 late in the third.

Coupeville had just one regular field goal through three quarters – a jumper from Renninger set up by a nice pass from Nicole Laxton – using a mix of free throws and three-balls to stay close.

However they scored, the Wolves never lost heart, something huge in King’s book.

“I told the players that they rallied without Hannah and Lindsey and got a great win. Very, very proud of the team!,” he said. “Late in the game in a timeout, I told the five players, isn’t this fun!”

Ema played well, and she and Scout led us,” King added. “Izzy and Ja’Kenya played well and stepped up. One offensive and one defensive.”

Prescott (6), Scout Smith (5), Renninger (2) and Wells (2) combined for 15 points, while Ema Smith’s 14 was a season-high.

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Lindsey Roberts is just the 24th CHS girls basketball player to score 400 career points. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’ve had better nights.

The Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball squad fell apart under an avalanche of turnovers Tuesday, and slipped a rung lower in the league standings because of it.

Falling 48-28 at Cedar Park Christian, the Wolves drop to 2-2 in North Sound Conference action, 4-7 overall.

After entering the night in second-place in the six-team league, CHS now sits tied for third with Granite Falls (2-2, 4-9), with six games to play.

The Wolves are chasing King’s (4-0, 9-3) and CPC (3-1, 6-5), while still ahead of Sultan (1-3, 4-8) and South Whidbey (0-4, 2-10).

Heading to Bothell, Coupeville knew the Eagles star, Irena Korolenko, was dangerous.

But knowing you need to stop someone and being able to do it are often two very different things.

Korolenko is as advertised for CPC,” said Coupeville coach David King. “She got them going early and often.

“She scored 25 points that looked effortless, from a variety of drives, jumpers and at the free-throw line.”

The Wolves, who recently put together a run of games in which they sparkled on offense, didn’t have that same golden touch this time out.

“Offensively we struggled all game until the fourth quarter,” King said. “Normally our defense leads us, but tonight we struggled.

“When our defense isn’t up to par it takes a toll on our offense.”

Trailing 12-6 after the first quarter, the Wolves went stone-cold in the second frame and never fully recovered.

Unable to net a single point over an eight-minute span, CHS entered the locker room facing a 26-6 deficit, and things didn’t improve much during the third quarter.

It was only in the fourth, a quarter they entered on the wrong side of a 44-13 score, in which the Wolves were able to rekindle their flame.

“All game long we looked for a lineup that would compete. We found it starting the fourth,” King said. “We rode the group of Scout (Smith), Chelsea (Prescott), Tia (Wurzrainer), Izzy (Wells), and Lindsey (Roberts).

“This lineup came out with energy and heart,” he added. “The effort picked up defensively and like it does for us, it guided our offense. They got steals, rebounded well and had an urgency on both ends of the court.”

Prescott led the way down the stretch, banging home five points, while Roberts and Scout Smith each added four, and CHS closed the game on a 15-4 tear, even with Korolenko on the floor.

While the finale was a positive, Coupeville was stung by 28 turnovers and poor free throw shooting, netting only seven of 19 freebies.

“I knew this would be a tough game; we seemed to be evenly-matched based on scores from games played, but tonight, CPC outplayed us and out-coached us,” King said. “The positive we can take from this game was the play in the fourth quarter.”

Roberts finished with a team-high nine points and 10 rebounds, exiting the game with 408 career points, passing Ashley Manker (404) for #23 on the Wolf girls all-time scoring list.

Scout Smith tossed in six in support, Prescott notched five, Avalon Renninger banked home three, Ema Smith and Wells netted a bucket apiece and Nicole Laxton tickled the twines for a free throw.

Just a sophomore, Prescott became the fourth active player and 98th in the 45-year history of the Wolf girls program to top 100 career points.

With 102 and counting, she’s hot on the trail of Roberts, Ema Smith (153) and Scout Smith (110).

 

Cedar Park doesn’t have a girls JV team, so Coupeville’s second unit had the night off.

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Mason Grove netted nine of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter Tuesday, as Coupeville held off pesky Granite Falls for a 52-43 win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hop on the roller-coaster and strap your butt in nice and tight.

Tuesday’s varsity boys basketball showdown between Coupeville and visiting Granite Falls went topsy, then turvy, then nutso, before finally ending just perfect.

It was the kind of night when the Wolves blew out to a 16-point lead in the first quarter, eventually gave their advantage completely away, then closed like cold-blooded killers.

It turned into a 52-43 win, which improves Coupeville’s league standings greatly as we head into the heart of the schedule.

Now 1-2 in North Sound Conference play, 2-8 overall, CHS moves into a fourth-place tie with Cedar Park Christian (1-2, 5-8), a game-and-a-half up on Granite (0-4, 2-11).

That’s big, as five of six teams make the playoffs.

Coupeville is just a game out of second, where Sultan (2-1, 2-8) and South Whidbey (2-1, 8-4) are tied, while King’s (4-0, 9-4) is out in front after crushing South Whidbey 80-54 Tuesday.

The battle royal between the Wolves and Granite started as a blowout, as Coupeville blistered the net in the early going.

Sparked by Gavin Knoblich, a solid role player who suddenly morphed into a can’t-miss shooter, CHS roared out to a 13-1 lead, before stretching it all the way out to 20-4 in the final moments of the first quarter.

The ball was moving, the passes were crisp and purposeful, and one Wolf after another took turns setting up their teammates for easy buckets.

Ulrik Wells opened the game with a soft lil’ jumper, set up by a nice dish from freshman Hawthorne Wolfe, then Wells turned around and popped a perfect pass that Knoblich translated into a layup.

Knoblich came back around to net a three-ball, with Wolfe netting the assist, before Wolfe launched his own trey from well behind the arc.

As all this was happening, Sean Toomey-Stout was bouncing and bounding, snaring rebounds, chasing down errant passes, harassing any Tiger within several hundred feet and being electrifying every time the ball was in his hands.

Taking steals coast to coast, banking left-handed leaners while hovering in mid-air, “The Torpedo” knocked down eight points in the opening frame, one better than Knoblich.

At that point, the Wolves looked like a team on its way to an 80-point night, but then the rim turned unforgiving for a bit.

Granite closed the first quarter with a three-ball of its own, then continued to chip away in the second frame.

Wolfe and Mason Grove sank long treys under great duress, but a 16-point lead was chiseled down to 28-20 by the half.

The successful shots got fewer and farther between in the third, and, despite Wolf big men Wells and Jacobi Pilgrim fighting like beasts in the paint, Coupeville finally saw its lead completely evaporate.

Granite slipped a pair of free throws through the net to claim its first lead of the night at 33-32, and it could easily have been the moment the Wolves cracked and completely fell apart.

But they didn’t.

Grove drilled the bottom of the net out on the very next play, his three-ball lifting CHS back in front, and he and his teammates displayed a calmness, mixed with derring-do.

Even when the Tigers knotted the game at 36 right before the third quarter buzzer, the Wolves never flinched.

And never stopped attacking, which might have been even bigger.

Coupeville rolled out of the timeout between quarters ready to run, and struck quickly, with Wolfe slashing through the defense and flicking a pass to Knoblich, who drained a jumper from the side.

Another three-ball from Grove, paired with a free throw by Wells, and the lead was back to six.

The visitors tried to keep the pressure on, tossing in a trey to pull back within 42-39, but Grove wasn’t having it.

Catching his defender off balance, the CHS junior rimmed out a three-ball, but caught the Granite player leaning and suckered him into picking up the foul.

Awarded three free throws, Grove barely rippled the net, sinking each one with the precision of an assassin slipping a dagger between the rib cage of his foes.

Granite crumbled from that point, unable to hit anything from the field the rest of the way, while Coupeville closed with three stellar buckets.

Wolfe tiptoed through a maze of defenders, flicking home a roller over outstretched arms.

Wells yanked down a rebound, then did a ballerina twirl and knocked down a mini-hook shot.

And the final dagger? It came from Grove, naturally, as he capped a season-best 15-point show by burying yet another three-ball, this time while on the move to his left.

The victory, and the way his players pulled it out, brought a smile to Coupeville coach Brad Sherman’s face afterwards.

“It was a great team win,” he said. “I love how much fire we came out with.

“We knew Granite would make a run at some point, but we didn’t let it go; I’m proud of how much fight they showed,” Sherman added. “They played pretty tough all game, diving on the floor for loose balls, doing what you have to do to win a tight game.”

Coupeville spread its offense among six players, with Toomey-Stout rumbling for 11 to back up Grove’s 15. Knoblich added nine, Wolfe rattled home eight, Wells netted five and Pilgrim banked home four.

Jered Brown and Dane Lucero rounded out a short roster for the Wolves, providing smooth ball-handling and defensive grit, respectively.

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Ema Smith is third in scoring among Coupeville girls, and fourth overall among all Wolf players. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

From here on out, every game is big.

As the second part of the 2018-2019 high school basketball season gets fully underway this coming week, both Coupeville squads have the chance to make statements.

The Wolf girls, who sit in a second-place tie, a game off of top dog King’s, travel Tuesday to Bothell and Friday to Sultan.

The first game pits them against Cedar Park Christian, the school they’re tied with, while the second gives them a chance to sweep the season series from the Turks.

Meanwhile, the CHS boys, who are sitting a bit further down in the standings, host Granite Falls Tuesday before joining the trek to Sultan.

A win in the home game, which pits the bottom two teams in the league standings, would propel the Wolves a game-and-a-half up on Granite.

While there’s still plenty of season to play, having that edge could be a huge confidence booster, as five of six league teams make the playoffs.

As we head into a new week, a look at where we are, through Jan. 6:

 

North Sound Conference girls basketball:

School League Overall
King’s 3-0 8-3
Coupeville 2-1 4-6
CPC-Bothell 2-1 5-5
Granite Falls 1-2 3-9
Sultan 1-2 4-7
South Whidbey 0-3 2-9

 

North Sound Conference boys basketball:

School League Overall
King’s 3-0 8-4
South Whidbey 2-0 8-3
Sultan 2-1 2-8
CPC-Bothell 1-2 5-8
Coupeville 0-2 1-8
Granite Falls 0-3 2-10

 

CHS girls basketball varsity scoring:

Lindsey Roberts – 101
Chelsea Prescott – 59
Ema Smith – 57
Scout Smith – 48
Avalon Renninger – 39
Hannah Davidson – 10
Nicole Laxton – 10
Tia Wurzrainer – 10
Mollie Bailey – 8
Izzy Wells – 5
Anya Leavell – 2
Ja’Kenya Hoskins

 

CHS boys basketball varsity scoring:

Hawthorne Wolfe – 90
Sean Toomey-Stout – 50
Ulrik Wells – 47
Mason Grove – 46
Jered Brown – 44
Gavin Knoblich – 28
Koa Davison – 11
Jacobi Pilgrim – 8
Dane Lucero – 2
Jean Lund-Olsen

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Gavin Knoblich knocked down six points Friday as Coupeville basketball returned to the floor after a 12-day holiday break. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The “Showdown in Shoreline” was decidedly one-sided.

None of the Coupeville High School basketball teams have played in 12 days, and their welcome-back present Friday was a road match-up with powerhouse King’s.

It did not go especially well on the scoreboard.

By the time things were done and the bus was headed back to Whidbey, the Wolves had absorbed five losses in as many games.

But, every game is a lesson and tomorrow is another day, as they say.

How things played out:

 

Girls varsity:

The game was a showdown for sole possession of first-place in the North Sound Conference, but one team was a little more oiled-up.

King’s, a tall, athletic team led by all-universe freshman Jada Wynn, was coming off four wins in four games at a holiday tournament in California, and the Knights jumped out to a 15-0 lead Friday en route to a 50-17 win.

With the loss, the Wolves (2-1 in league play, 4-6 overall) slip into a second-place tie with Cedar Park Christian (2-1, 5-5), a game back of King’s (3-0, 8-3).

Coupeville travels to Bothell Tuesday, giving it a prime shot to bounce back and knock CPC down a rung.

While the final score was lopsided, CHS coach David King liked chunks of what he witnessed.

“We came into the game ready to compete,” he said. “Our defensive effort was present all game; in the second quarter we caused a 30-second violation and Lindsey (Roberts) also had a highlight-reel block.

“We did a lot of good things on defense, still have some things to correct,” he added. “But, it’s things we can correct.”

Trailing 15-0 at the first break, the Wolves came back and put together a solid effort in the second quarter, holding King’s to just a 16-10 advantage.

The second frame was a battle of the stars, with Wynn tossing in nine of her game-high 17, while Roberts answered with seven of her team-best nine.

Another bagel job in the third (11-0) hurt, but Coupeville closed strongly, edged just 8-7 in the fourth quarter.

David King praised his team, which fought through any rustiness and showed admirable chippiness.

“The starters led us the whole game with their energy and never-quit attitude,” he said. “Our reserves gave us some great minutes all game long, as well.

Avalon (Renninger) was aggressive on both ends of the court, while Tia (Wurzrainer) brought us a good spark on the defensive end,” King added.

Nicole (Laxton) is establishing herself as a very good rebounder; I never like losing, but this game showed me we will compete with the very good teams and can and will get better.”

The nine points for Roberts pushes her career total to 399, leaving her a free-throw shy of becoming the 24th Wolf girl to top 400.

Renninger knocked down four points in support, Ema Smith swished a three-ball and Scout Smith slipped a free-throw through the net to top off the scoring effort.

Hannah Davidson hauled in five boards for CHS, while Chelsea Prescott and Ja’Kenya Hoskins also saw floor time.

 

Boys varsity:

King’s rained down 11 three-balls, with seven different players netting a trey, as it cruised in with a 76-23 win.

The loss drops the Wolves to 0-2 in league play, 1-8 overall.

They currently sit fifth in the six-team conference, a half-game up on Granite Falls (0-3, 2-9), which they host Tuesday night.

Coupeville couldn’t get much to drop in the opening quarter Friday, digging a 16-2 hole it couldn’t recover from.

The Wolves best performance came in the second frame, when they went for almost half of their points on the night, dropping in 11 of 23.

Gavin Knoblich paced CHS with four in the quarter, finishing in a tie with Hawthorne Wolfe for top scoring honors with six for the game.

Wolfe netted both of Coupeville’s three-balls, hitting one in the second and another in the fourth.

Jered Brown (4), Jacobi Pilgrim (2), Mason Grove (2), Sean Toomey-Stout (2) and Ulrik Wells (1) also scored, while Dane Lucero chipped in with rebounding and hustle.

King’s, which sits atop the league at 3-0, a half-game up on South Whidbey (2-0), got points from all 12 of the players on its roster, with Tyler Linhardt leading the way with 19.

 

Girls JV:

Facing a team which shot (and made) a lot of three-balls, Coupeville fell 49-14.

The Wolf young guns fall to 2-1 in league play, 4-5 overall, heading into a JV-only match-up Monday at Oak Harbor.

While her team went scoreless in the first quarter, falling behind 12-0, CHS coach Amy King liked that her squad never fell to pieces.

“Everyone kept working,” she said. “We got a number of shots up that just didn’t fall.

“We worked to slow them down and give no uncontested layups, and we accomplished that,” King added. “It’s about heart, not paying attention to the score, and being a team.

The Wolves finally broke through on the scoreboard when Anya Leavell went coast-to-coast for a bucket after snatching a rebound on the defensive end of the floor.

Leavell added a three-ball to account for a team-high five points, while Izzy Wells knocked down four, Audrianna Shaw drilled a trey and Kiara Contreras popped for two to round out the scoring.

The bucket from Contreras was set up by a “sweet offensive rebound and dish” from teammate Abby Mulholland.

Wells paced the Wolves with nine rebounds and two assists, while Ja’Kenya Hoskins rejected a pair of Knights shots.

Lily Leedy, Morgan Stevens, Kylie Van Velkinburgh, Alana Mihill and Mollie Bailey all saw floor time to round out the active roster.

 

Boys JV:

The first three quarters were brutal, but Coupeville rebounded to win the fourth-quarter battle in a 63-19 loss.

The Wolves slip to 0-2 in league play, 4-5 overall.

Trailing 50-3 after going scoreless in the first and third quarters, CHS closed the game with a 16-13 surge across the final eight minutes.

With six different players scoring in the fourth, the Wolves held off a Knights team which kept its top scorer on the floor in the final quarter, providing a nice finish to a rough night.

Xavier Murdy paced Coupeville with six points, popping for five in the final frame, while Sage Downes (4), Daniel Olson (3), Cody Roberts (3), Tucker Hall (2) and Grady Rickner (1) also scored.

Gibby Marshall led King’s with 23, getting 11 of those in the fourth.

Coupeville’s active roster also included Chris Ruck, Logan Martin, TJ Rickner, and Miles Davidson, who all saw floor time.

 

Boys C-Team:

Coupeville came out extremely-cold and lost 60-3 to a very-efficient Knights squad.

The defeat drops the young Wolves to 0-1 in league play, 0-4 overall, the score-book was lost to the sands of time, and that’s pretty much all we’re going to say about that.

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