Posts Tagged ‘playoffs’

“You can’t contain us! You can’t beat us!!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One win away from punching a guaranteed ticket to the big dance.

The Whitman College women’s basketball team jumped out quickly Thursday on the University of Puget Sound, then held off a late rally to claim a 72-66 home win in the semifinals of the Northwest Conference postseason tourney.

With the win, their 12th straight, the Blues improve to 24-2 and advance to the championship game of the NWC tourney.

They’ll face arch-rival George Fox University (20-6) Saturday, after the Bruins upended Pacific University 56-47.

The winner claims an automatic berth to the 64-team NCAA D-III national championships, which run March 6-22, while the loser waits to see if they can nab an at-large bid.

Win or lose Saturday, it seems all but certain Whitman, currently ranked #7 in the nation, will be part of March Madness.

It would be the third trip to the big dance in four years for the Blues seniors – Lily Gustafson, Mady Burdett, Katie Stahl, Natalie Whitsel, and Coupeville grad Makana Stone.

Whitman advanced all the way to the Elite Eight during their freshman campaign in 2016-2017, and the group is a stellar 92-19 overall since arriving in Walla Walla.

Thursday’s game was one in which Whitman almost pulled away several times, only to have a pesky Puget Sound squad mount mini-comeback after mini-comeback.

Blues gunner Kaelan Shamseldin opened the game with a three-ball, before Stone slapped home back-to-back layups to stake Whitman to a 7-3 lead.

After the game’s one and only tie at 3-3, the Blues led the entire night.

Up 15-5 after one quarter, Whitman stretched the lead out to 33-20 midway through the second quarter, with Stone once again stepping up.

The Northwest Conference Player of the Year hit a jumper and a free throw, then made off with a steal to set up a potentially game-busting jumper from Kaylie McCracken.

But it wasn’t to be, as UPS closed within eight at the half (38-30), fell behind by 13 in the third, then roared all the way back within four points with under two minutes to play.

Clinging to a 68-64 lead, Whitman put the ball in Burdett’s hands, and the sweet-shootin’ assassin from Edmonds closed the game by rippling the nets on four consecutive free throws to cap a team-high 16-point performance.

The Blues only got scoring from six players, but four of those finished in double-digits.

McCracken pumped in 15, Gustafson banked home 13, Shamseldin made the nets jump for 12, and Taylor Chambers popped for nine.

Hampered by foul trouble all night, Stone had a relatively quiet night, finishing with seven points, four rebounds, an assist, and a steal in just 26 minutes of action.

Also having a very muted game was Puget Sound’s First-Team All-Conference player Jamie Lange, a double-double machine who was held to just eight points and three rebounds in her collegiate swan song.

On the season, Stone sits with 405 points, 220 rebounds, 37 assists, 26 steals, and 25 blocked shots, while shooting 166-313 (53%) from the floor and 70-88 (79.5%) from the free throw line.

The 405 points is the 10th best individual scoring season by a Whitman women’s player.

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Scout Smith soars in to collect another bucket. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Anya Leavell has her eyes on the prize.

Hannah Davidson looks for an opening in the defense.

Chelsea Prescott floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.

Izzy Wells cleans the glass.

Photos are the cherry on top of the playoff cake.

The games might be played, but things aren’t complete until you have pics to prove it all went down.

So here you go, thanks to the camera of wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken.

To see everything he shot Tuesday night, and possibly purchase some glossy memories, pop over to:


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Avalon Renninger is one of four CHS seniors who played their final basketball game Tuesday night. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Scott Fox (left) led the Wolf girls to a 12-7 record in his first year at the helm.

Maddie Georges, who was the #3 scorer for Coupeville as a freshman, is one of 10 varsity players who can return next season.

The rain (of three-balls) was a pain.

A scrappy Coupeville High School girls basketball squad played visiting Meridian even in the second and fourth quarters Tuesday night.

But it was the first and third quarters, when the Trojans bombed away for six of their nine successful three-point shots, that stung, and stung badly.

Dropping death from the skies, the very-young, very-quick, very-physical, very-good team from Bellingham was ultimately too much for the Wolves, handing them a 52-24 loss.

The defeat, Coupeville’s second in as many days to a Northwest Conference school, eliminates them from the district playoffs.

The Wolves finish 12-7.

Coupeville and next-door neighbor South Whidbey were eliminated on the same night, as the Falcon girls fell 53-17 at Mount Baker.

With the CHS boys having been KO’d Saturday, and neither Oak Harbor hoops team making the playoffs, the South Whidbey boys are the last team from The Rock still playing.

While Tuesday’s final score sounds lopsided, it was a huge improvement from Coupeville’s loss Monday at Nooksack Valley.

The Wolves, led by four seniors playing in their final game in a CHS uniform, were within 11 points early in the third quarter, and never backed down against a really-strong Meridian squad.

In the early going, Coupeville struggled to convert from the field, largely thanks to in-your-face and then some defense from the ultra-aggressive Trojans.

The Wolves only first quarter points came at the free throw line, while Meridian dropped in a trio of three-balls en route to opening up a 17-5 lead by the first break.

Things didn’t get much better as the second quarter dawned, with the Trojans swishing their fourth and fifth treys to shove the margin out to 23-5, but then Coupeville found its groove.

Scout Smith netted her team’s first field goal, some 10 minutes-plus into the game, when she ripped a ball loose, then beat a pack of rivals down the court.

It was the start of a 10-4 run for Coupeville, with Smith, Anya Leavell, Carolyn Lhamon, and Maddie Georges all scoring.

The prettiest play came thanks to Smith and Leavell, as the wily senior led a fast-break, then slid a pass between defenders to her sophomore teammate for a breakaway layup.

The grittiest play was right before the break, as Georges, a freshman who is primed to inherit the point guard position from the departing Smith, went the length of the court for a bucket while being hammered around the head and shoulders.

Hannah Davidson opened the third quarter, sliding a free throw through the twines to pull the Wolves within 27-16, but then things fell apart for a good stretch.

It wasn’t that Coupeville played badly in the third.

You have to give credit to Meridian, which did what top-level teams do. They stepped up and dropped a haymaker.

Or a couple.

Closing the quarter with a 17-0 game-busting surge, fueled by three more three-balls, the Trojans put a stamp on the game, simply overpowering their opponents.

The Wolves fought to the end, however, playing Meridian to an 8-8 tie across the fourth quarter, with four different players notching a point.

The biggest cheer of the night came very late in the game, when senior Tia Wurzrainer, celebrating her birthday, pulled up on the move and hit nothing but net on the final jump shot of her stellar prep hoops career.

While the loss ended Coupeville’s season, first-year head coach Scott Fox had nothing but positives to carry away as he and his players exited.

“We fought really hard, and played so much better than last night,” he said.

“Our seniors played their hearts out. They were our backbone and our leaders,” Fox added. “I couldn’t be more proud of those girls.”

Smith, Wurzrainer, Davidson, and Avalon Renninger played together from middle school through their senior seasons, with Davidson making a brief detour to California before returning to Cow Town.

A tight-knit bunch, they will be remembered most for their hearts and hustle, which were second to none.

Playing in her final basketball game, Smith led the Wolves with seven points, and notched one final personal highlight.

With her performance Tuesday, Scooter finishes with 290 varsity points, sliding past Bessie Walstad (288) to claim 37th on the Wolf girls basketball career scoring chart, which dates back to 1974.

Davidson banged home five points in support, with Georges (4), Leavell (2), Chelsea Prescott (2), Wurzrainer (2), Lhamon (1), and Audrianna Shaw (1) also scoring.

Prescott finishes her junior season with 249 career points, tying her with Danette Beckley at #44 on the all-time list.

Renninger, Mollie Bailey, Kylie Van Velkinburgh, and Izzy Wells also saw floor time, while Nezi Keiper, recovering from an injury, and team managers McKenna Somes and Ja’Kenya Hoskins round out the 2019-2020 Wolf varsity.


Final (unofficial) season scoring stats:

Scout Smith – 148
Chelsea Prescott – 110
Maddie Georges – 86
Hannah Davidson – 74
Avalon Renninger – 64
Izzy Wells – 46
Tia Wurzrainer – 25
Carolyn Lhamon – 24
Anya Leavell – 18
Audrianna Shaw – 11
Kylie Van Velkinburgh – 10
Mollie Bailey – 6
Nezi Keiper – 2


To see more photos from Monday’s playoff game in Nooksack Valley, pop over to:


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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:


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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Coupeville’s Koa Davison and Jered Brown (1) clamp down on defense. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mason Grove lofts a shot over the tall trees.

Xavier Murdy can feel the playoff excitement.

Jacobi Pilgrim dishes the rock.

Jered Brown fires up a runner in the paint.

Gavin Knoblich keeps his shooting form flawless.

Hawthorne Wolfe makes it rain.

Murdy’s fan club gets rowdy.

All good things must come to an end, but not before a last batch of photos.

The Coupeville High School boys basketball squad closed its season Saturday with a home playoff loss to Mount Baker, but the action kept wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken busy.

The pics above are courtesy him, but are just the beginning of what he snapped.

To see everything he shot, and possibly purchase some glossy memories of hardwood heroics, pop over to:


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