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   Wolf senior Allison Wenzel had three rebounds and two steals Saturday in her final high school hoops game. (Susan Wenzel photos)

   With nine players set to return next year, the future remains bright for Coupeville basketball.

There are several ways to look at the final game, and the year as a whole.

After three straight seasons of dominating the Olympic League, with a trip to the state tourney in the middle, the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad wasn’t able to reach those lofty levels this time around.

Battered by graduation and injuries, the Wolves, who won 15+ games in each of the last three seasons, finished 8-14 in 2017-2018, capping their season with a 55-23 first-round playoff loss Saturday to visiting Bellevue Christian.

And yet, CHS coach David King was still smiling in the aftermath, calling it “one of our best seasons” and his players exited, heads high, a glimmer of determination in their eyes in place of tears.

That’s largely because almost the entire roster, after learning under fire as underclassmen, can return next season.

Having lost four starters before the season, the Wolves played Saturday minus two of their three leading scorers, with Mikayla Elfrank (and her badly-injured ankle) in street clothes and Sarah Wright out of state.

That gave King a chance to give solid minutes to freshman Chelsea Prescott, sophomores Scout Smith, Hannah Davidson and Avalon Renninger and swing players Ashlie Shank and Maddy Hilkey.

Despite facing a tall, aggressive BC squad, the Wolf young guns never backed down, showing the same guts and determination they have all season.

Five of the six scored, with Shank knocking down a three-ball for her first varsity points and Renninger swishing her first varsity field goal.

The only player from that six-pack not to take a shot was Hilkey, and she tied for the team lead on the night with two assists, both off of especially sweet set-up passes.

Coupeville’s active players, which also included seniors Kyla Briscoe and Allison Wenzel and juniors Ema Smith and Lindsey Roberts, didn’t lack for heart or desire.

Or, in Briscoe’s case, refreshing chippiness, as the easy-going one inadvertently body-slammed a rival player off the hard-wood while trying to stuff a shot.

Catching the Viking right across the forehead as she went airborne, then hooking her, Briscoe put the BC player to the floor with enough force that the rafters in the gym shook.

That she immediately profusely apologized to her fallen foe showcased Briscoe’s eternal class and compassion, even if her rooting section went bonkers screaming for their newly-minted WWE superstar.

Coupeville’s biggest issue on this night was simply that BC had a lot more offensive fire power.

Freshman gunner Rylee Reese paced the Vikings with a game-high 15, three times pulling up to knock down a trey from behind the arc, while BC’s multiple tall trees crashed through the paint all night.

Roberts, who gave up several inches to Bellevue’s post players, fought like a wild woman, however, and refused to cede ground.

After battling illness all week which required her to sit out several practices, the long ‘n lanky speed demon paced the Wolves with nine points and 16 rebounds.

With her work on the glass, Roberts accounted for nearly half of Coupeville’s 34 rebounds by herself.

BC had a sweet shooting touch, from inside, outside and every place, however, and twice used 12-0 runs to cripple any Wolf comeback hopes.

The best Coupeville could do in response was a 9-2 mini-surge that started with Roberts dropping a three-ball from the left side on the final shot of the first half.

She then opened the third quarter with a put-back, before Scout Smith drilled a pair of soft jumpers while on the move.

CHS put together one other short run, with Renninger’s pull-up jumper, a beautiful bank shot by Prescott and another put-back off of an offensive board from Roberts accounting for six consecutive points.

King came away pleased with what he saw from his still very raw, developing roster.

“We settled down a little in the second half, got over some early nerves and dealt better with Bellevue’s pressure,” he said. “I thought we fought and worked hard as a team.”

With her nine points, Roberts raised her career total to 298, putting her in 36th place on the Wolf girls all-time scoring chart as she eyes her senior season.

Her scoring totals have increased each season, as she has jumped from #6 on the team as a freshman to #4 as a sophomore to #1 this season.

Prescott and Scout Smith each added four, Shank knocked down three on her long-ball, Renninger netted a bucket and Davidson swished a free throw to round out the scoring.

Next season will bring a jump from the four-team Olympic League to the newly-formed six-team North Sound Conference.

With just seniors Elfrank, Briscoe and Wenzel departing, there is prime opportunity awaiting the young players who learned on the fly this time around.

“I hope they embrace it,” King said. “If they are willing to put in the work, to go to camp and take advantage of off-season opportunities, they can accomplish great things.”

 

2017-2018 varsity scoring stats:

Lindsey Roberts 161
Mikayla Elfrank
99
Sarah Wright
99
Ema Smith
94
Kyla Briscoe
78
Scout Smith
56
Kalia Littlejohn
38
Chelsea Prescott
38
Hannah Davidson
11
Allison Wenzel
5
Avalon Renninger
3
Ashlie Shank
3

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   Ema Smith helps anchor a bruising defense which has carried Coupeville to the playoffs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One game, with everything riding on it.

Having made it in the postseason as the #2 seed out of the Olympic League, the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad gets a little reward mixed with a lot of danger.

The pay-off is a home playoff game 6 PM Saturday against Bellevue Christian, the #3 seed from the Nisqually League.

The danger comes with the battle royal being a loser-out game.

Win, and the Wolves get revenge for a non-conference loss earlier this season to the Vikings.

Plus, and this is probably the biggie, a victory sends Coupeville to the double-elimination portion of districts Feb. 14-17, where three of four teams will punch their ticket to the state tourney.

Here’s what you need to know before you head to the CHS gym this Saturday:

 

Ticket prices:

Cash only (no bills over $20), no checks

Adults: $8.00
Students (with ASB): $5.00
Students (without ASB): $8.00
Senior Citizens (62+): $5.00
Elementary school students: $4.00

 

How the teams compare:

Records – Coupeville (8-13); BC (12-8)

RPI rankings – Coupeville (#56); BC (#17)

Last meeting: BC beat Coupeville 51-29

Point differential – Coupeville (662-747); BC (914-692)

Seniors – Coupeville – Allison Wenzel, Kyla Briscoe, Mikayla Elfrank; BC – Catherine Dugoni, Jasmine Hathaway, Nicole Bloch 

Coaches – Coupeville – David King; BC – Mark DeJonge

 

To see the layout for the whole district hoops tourney, the final one CHS will play in District 3 before moving to the North Sound Conference and District 1 next year, pop over to:

http://www.olympicleague.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2521&sport=1

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   David King has preached defense all season, and it has carried the Wolves back to the playoffs. (Amy King photo)

   Kyla Briscoe was one of three Wolves honored on Senior Night. (Jackie Calkins photos)

   An injury has kept senior Mikayla Elfrank on the bench for a chunk of the season, but she and her family could joke about it as they all sported bandaged legs.

Allison Wenzel capped Senior Night by playing like a beast on defense.

Defense is their calling card.

Through injuries and defections, through great games and struggles, the Coupeville High School girls basketball squad has hung its hat on stopping the other team from putting the ball in the bucket this season.

Saturday night was a prime example, as the Wolves stepped up huge, holding visiting Chimacum scoreless for 10 minutes to open the second half.

Sparked by the rush of corralling rebounds, taking charges and making off with steal after steal, Coupeville held on for a taut 36-29 win in a game which decided the #2 playoff seed from the Olympic League.

Now 8-13 overall after winning for the fourth time in their last six games, the Wolves finished 6-3 in Olympic League play.

They will host a loser-out playoff game next Saturday, Feb. 10 against the #3 team from the Nisqually League. Their foe will be known after play in that conference wraps Tuesday.

Win that postseason clash and Coupeville advances to the double-elimination portion of districts, from which three of four teams will move on to the state tourney.

After three consecutive 9-0 seasons, Coupeville capped a 33-3 run through the four-team conference by pulling off maybe its biggest accomplishment.

In past seasons, the Wolves had a transcendent star in Makana Stone and deep, veteran rosters.

This time around, they began by losing four starters (three to graduation, one to a transfer), then lost two more, including their leading scorer, as the season progressed.

That required CHS coach David King to find different ways to win, and defense has always been at the core of his teachings.

Saturday night, in the crucible against a very physical Chimacum squad, it paid off handsomely.

“Defensively we have been working really hard on sliding our feet and not reaching,” King said. “Tonight we really played the way we wanted.

Sarah (Wright) and Allison (Wenzel) were so outstanding stopping the dribble drive,” he added. “Then you take our steals off of our press and going hard to the basket once we had the ball – exactly the goal.”

Clinging to a 20-18 lead at the half, the Wolves erupted from the locker room with fire in their eyes and passion in their hearts.

With youngsters like Scout Smith and Chelsea Prescott coming of age under considerable fire from the elbow-throwing and hip-checking Cowboys, Coupeville’s defense stood tall in the third quarter.

Forcing wild shots or turnovers, then pounding the boards or getting out on the break, the Wolves took control of the game with a 10-0 run.

Kyla Briscoe netted an epic three-ball from the left side, while Ema Smith, Wright and Lindsey Roberts all drained huge buckets off of set-ups from teammates.

Wenzel fed Ema Smith, Scout Smith punched the ball between defenders to find Wright, and Prescott laid the ball right on Robert’s fingertips on a note-perfect in-bounds pass.

Coupeville’s shooting touch dried up a bit in the fourth, as the Wolves couldn’t get a field goal to drop.

A combination of stellar defense, free throws from Ema Smith (she drained six pressure-packed freebies in the game’s final minutes) and Chimacum’s terrible night at the free throw stripe (8-25) prevented the Cowboys from mounting a full comeback.

Chimacum pulled within 33-29 with a little over a minute to play, but Ema Smith drained three of four free throws to close the scoring.

Even better, the Wolf defense thoroughly shut down the Cowboys over those final 60 seconds, not letting the ball come anywhere close to hitting the net.

The game had started with a little back and forth, as Coupeville went to the first break up 9-6.

Scout Smith had the sweetest bucket of the quarter, pulling in a long pass from Briscoe, then hanging in air for an eternity before slapping home a layup over a defender’s outstretched arm.

The second quarter belonged to Roberts, who played the entire 32 minutes and combined with Wright to dominate on the boards.

The Wolf junior tossed in six points in the quarter, sticking a jumper back in off of a rebound, before converting on a pair of breakaways.

Scout Smith was back at it again, as well, losing the handle on the ball, only to spin and steal the ball right back from a Cowboy.

Completing the play o’ wonder, she promptly knocked down the layup to thoroughly befuddle Chimacum.

Ema Smith and Roberts paced the Wolves with 10 points apiece, while Wright knocked down seven, Briscoe popped for five and Scout Smith had a dazzling four.

Prescott, Wenzel and Hannah Davidson all contributed greatly to Coupeville’s withering defense.

JV falls in final moments:

The win slipped through the fingers of the Wolf young guns in literally the final few seconds, as Chimacum scored the last four points en route to a 33-29 win.

The loss leaves the JV with a final record of 3-5 in league play, 7-11 overall.

Coupeville fell behind 8-0 in the early going, then rode the stellar shooting of Ashlie Shank and some strong defense of its own to get back in the game.

Shank, who rattled in a game-high 14, got the Wolves on the board with back-to-back buckets to end the first quarter, then tossed in 10 more in the second-half.

After surging in front 10-8 midway through the second, when Maddie Hilkey took a pass from Avalon Renninger and slashed through two defenders for a go-ahead basket, CHS led most of the way.

Chimacum didn’t regain the lead until a minute into the fourth, when a 6-0 run put it up 24-20.

Shank was having none of that, knocking down a jumper, then snatching a rebound off of a missed free throw and knotting the game up with a put-back.

From that point, there were four lead changes, with neither team being more than two points ahead.

A free throw from Genna Wright gave the teams their final tie, at 29-29, but Chimacum slipped in a basket off of a nice roll under the hoop by their point guard, then sealed the deal with two free throws.

Hilkey finished with six to back Shank’s 14, while Wright (3), Renninger (2), Tia Wurzrainer (2) and Nicole Lester (2) also scored.

Kylie Chernikoff, Julia García Oñoro and Mollie Bailey also saw court time in the JV team’s season finale.

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   CHS grad Nick Streubel (left) was an All-Conference lineman on a Central Washington University football team which won a league title and finished 11-1. (Photo courtesy Nanette Streubel)

It was there. Then it wasn’t.

Unable to hold on to a three-touchdown lead, and unable to stop the best quarterback in NCAA D-II football on the (disputed) final play of regulation, Central Washington University saw its season end Saturday afternoon.

The undefeated Wildcats, roaring behind an offensive line which includes Coupeville grad Nick Streubel, built a 28-7 halftime lead on visiting Texas A & M-Commerce, but couldn’t stick the landing.

Luis Perez, the front runner for the Harlon Hill trophy (the D-II version of the Heisman) tossed a game-tying “touchdown” on the final play of regulation, then his defense stood tall in a 34-31 win in double overtime.

With the loss, Central finishes 11-1 and joins Fort Hays State as the second #1 seed to be knocked out of a wild-and-woolly playoffs.

Of the remaining eight teams with national title hopes, only three (#1 seeds Indiana, PA and West Alabama and #2 seed Minnesota State-Mankato) were supposed to still be alive at this point.

Central, making its first trip to the playoffs since 2009, was coming off a bye week and looked phenomenal in the first half.

Sparked by a defense which picked off Perez three times before the break (he had just six interceptions against 38 touchdowns entering the day), the Wildcats dominated.

While he doesn’t have the eye-popping numbers of his Texas counterpart, Central QB Reilly Hennessey held his own in the early going.

He opened the scoring on a 10-yard sprint to the end zone, then came back to fire a five-yard TD strike to Christian Stafford.

After Perez got Texas on the board with a 56-yard scoring bomb right at the end of the first, Central responded with back-to-back scores early in the second.

Hennessey tossed another short TD pass, this one a 3-yarder to Kyle Self, before Austin Pernell followed his line in on a 1-yard scoring run.

Up 28-7 at the half, Central was rolling.

The second half, however, wouldn’t be quite as peachy, as the Wildcats forced their fans to chew some fingernails down the stretch.

Texas sliced away at the lead, getting a third-quarter score on a run, then tacking on a fourth-quarter TD on a Perez pass.

Still, it looked like Central would hold tough. Up 28-21, the ‘Cats had Texas facing a fourth-and-seven from the CWU 37 with under a minute to play.

If Perez was ruffled, though, he didn’t show it, pegging a 16-yard strike to the left to keep his team’s season going.

After another pass pushed the ball all the way down to the two-yard line, Central’s defense stiffened. The Wildcats flattened Perez on a run from the four, and pushed Texas to another fourth down.

A & M passed its final test, partially due to the lack of instant replay.

The game-tying four-yard TD pass was ruled a catch on the field, despite some legitimate question from viewers as to whether the receiver truly had the ball.

If this was the NFL, I would bet money the call would have been overruled and Central would be celebrating.

Instead, they were off to overtime, where the two teams traded possessions starting at the 25-yard line, and, eventually, dueling field goals.

Overtime #2 started with Central in possession of the ball, but Hennessey was almost picked twice and the Wildcats, who would have been facing a very long field goal, went for it on fourth-and-15, but failed.

Perez, who finished with 394 yards on 41-65 passing, handed the ball off three straight times, setting up All-League kicker Kristov Martinez.

The Texas booter split the uprights from 38 yards out, putting the (sour) cherry on top of the sundae.

While the loss was disappointing, it shouldn’t take away from the season Streubel had.

The former Wolf three-sport star returned from an injury which cost him last year and was an All-Conference First-Team offensive lineman as a red-shirt sophomore.

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   CHS grad Nick Streubel hangs out with parents David and Nanette after another Central Washington football win. (Photo courtesy Nanette Streubel)

Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking playoffs.

Coupeville High School grad Nick Streubel, now a starting lineman for the Central Washington University football team, is headed to the postseason, and he even gets a week to rest up.

The Wildcats capped an 11-0 regular season Saturday with a 42-28 road win over Humboldt State, claiming their first Great Northwest Athletic Conference title since 2012.

Still coasting on the buzz from its big win, Central then nabbed one of four #1 seeds for the NCAA D-II playoffs.

CWU, which reps Super Region Four, is joined by Indiana (PA), West Alabama and Fort Hays State as top seeds, and all four get a first-round bye in the 28-team tourney.

After a week off, the Wildcats host the winner of Winona State (Minn.) vs. Texas A&M-Commerce in the round of 16.

That game will be in Ellensburg Nov. 25.

Streubel, who was a standout football, basketball and track star during his days in Coupeville, is a red-shirt sophomore for Central.

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