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Coupeville’s Makana Stone went off for 17 points and 11 rebounds Saturday, helping Whitman earn a win and a home playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A sizable collection of Coupeville folks showed up in Tacoma to root for their serene superstar. (Kristi Etzell photo)

Stone netted 7-8 free throw attempts in the win. (Etzell photo)

Stone reunites with former CHS classmates (l to r) Nick Etzell, McKenzie Meyer, Danny Conlisk, and Marisa Etzell. (Eileen Stone photo)

Guess who gets to host a home playoff game after all?

The last day of the regular season broke perfectly for the Whitman College women’s basketball team and its Coupeville star, the ever-rampaging Makana Stone.

With the former Wolf ace going off for 17 points and 11 rebounds in front of an enthusiastic group of hometown fans and friends, the Blues crunched host Pacific Lutheran 73-62 in Tacoma.

Meanwhile, across town, Puget Sound was stunned 61-56 by Whitworth.

That means Whitman, which finishes 13-3 in Northwest Conference play and is 19-6 overall, claims second-place in the nine-team league and will host UPS (12-4, 19-5) Feb. 21 in the first round of the NWC tourney.

Conference champ George Fox (15-1, 22-3) hosts #4 Linfield (8-8, 12-13) the same day, with the winners meeting Feb. 23 in the title game.

The tourney champs earn an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III national championships.

Wrapping up a two-game trip to the wilds of Tacoma, Whitman bounced back strongly Saturday after falling by five points Friday at UPS.

The Blues opened the game with a nice splat, thanks to Taylor Chambers connecting on a long three-ball.

After a couple of early ties, Stone went to work, hitting back-to-back buckets to break open a 9-9 stalemate and give Whitman a lead it would never relinquish.

Up 19-16 after one, the Blues stretched the lead to 37-28 by the halftime break.

PLU, which entered the day in a three-way tie for the league’s fourth, and final, playoff berth, cut the lead all the way back to a single point midway through the second half, but Stone wasn’t having it.

She pumped in seven points in the third quarter, then added another four in the fourth.

Stone rose to the occasion down the stretch, getting key points in the final three minutes, when Whitman back-handed its upstart hosts back into reality.

Out-leaping two defenders, Stone snagged an offensive rebound and promptly crashed hard to the hoop, earning two well-deserved free throw attempts with 2:42 left in the game.

Netting both (she hit 7-8 from the charity stripe on the night), the Whitman junior staked her squad to a 62-55 lead.

A minute later she was right back at it, gunning down the floor and pulling in an outlet pass for a running layup to push the margin out to double digits.

With Whitman senior Maegan Martin following up with back-to-back breakaway layups of her own, the Blues shoved the lead out to 14 before PLU ended its season with a buzzer-beating three-ball.

The Blues big three were the key to the game, as usual.

Stone added a crucial steal to go with her 17 and 11 double-double, while Mady Burdett singed the nets for 16 points, and Martin added 14 points and 12 boards of her own.

Kaelan Shamseldin, who nailed a late three-ball that punched a hole through the hearts of PLU fans, had 11 points as Whitman put four players into double-digits scoring.

Emma Janousek paced PLU with a team-high 15.

Heading into the playoffs, Stone has set personal-bests in virtually every statistical category, and now has 356 points, 203 rebounds, 40 assists, 26 steals and 18 blocks on the season.

She’s shooting 149-290 (51.4%) from the floor and 57-73 (78.1%) from the line.

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone netted her fourth-straight double-double Friday as Whitman College won by 41 points. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’re not playing around.

The Whitman College women’s basketball team faced a dangerous foe Friday night, a Pacific Lutheran University team which came to Walla Walla boasting an 11-3 record.

Well, now it’s 11-4 after the Blues put a 41-point whuppin’ on the Lutes.

Paced by Coupeville grad Makana Stone, who went for her fourth-straight double-double, Whitman cruised to a 91-50 victory, maintaining a perfect record in league play.

With the win, their seventh-straight and eleventh in their last 12 games, the Blues are 7-0 in Northwest Conference play, 13-3 overall.

Whitman sits a game up on defending league champ George Fox (6-1) and two ahead of Puget Sound (5-2), which arrives Saturday in Walla Walla.

UPS will find a Blues team that is as hot as any in the land, and one which cracked the NCAA D-III Top 25 rankings this week.

With Stone throwing down 11 points, including hitting her first collegiate three-ball, Whitman controlled Friday’s game from start to finish.

A 26-11 lead after one turned into a 49-29 bulge at the half, then things got nasty during a 24-9 Blues run in the third frame.

That was the quarter Stone elevated and splatted her first trey in a Whitman uniform.

The former Wolf also finished with a game-high 11 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action, helping Whitman crush PLU 46-29 on the boards.

She has eight double-doubles and counting during her junior season.

As Whitman heads into play Saturday, Stone sits with 256 points, 148 rebounds, 25 assists, 20 steals, and 17 blocks on the season.

She’s shooting 106-206 from the floor and 43-55 from the free-throw line.

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone (far right) and Whitman are 18-1 after a win Saturday over PLU. (Photo courtesy Eileen Stone)

What did you think was going to happen?

Not this, that’s for sure.

Take the best college women’s basketball squad in the nine-team Northwest Conference, pit it against the cellar dweller, and a nail-biter was not expected to be on the menu.

But there lowly Pacific Lutheran University was midway through the fourth quarter Saturday, nipping unexpectedly at the heels of a red-hot Whitman College squad.

Until Makana Stone closed the door.

Chained to the bench for much of the first half thanks to early foul trouble, the Coupeville grad netted a pair of free throws with 34 ticks to play, ending PLU’s final hope.

Stone’s sweet shots stretched a one-point lead to three, and Whitman tacked on three more freebies in the final 13 seconds to claim a much-closer-than-expected 69-63 victory, keeping alive an 18-game winning streak.

Now sitting at 10-0 in league play, 18-1 overall, the Blues have six days off before they make a two-game trip to Oregon next weekend.

That road jaunt will feature stops at Lewis & Clark College and Pacific University Feb. 2-3.

After struggling to find a rhythm, with Stone, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder limited to just four minutes in the first half, Whitman seemed to have iced the game midway through the fourth.

Freshman Kaelan Shamseldin netted back-to-back three balls to push the lead to 64-55, and it was time for PLU to give up the good fight.

Not so fast, said the Lutes, as Madison Salisbury led an 8-0 rally, with her three-point play the hard way (layup and free throw) pulling the visitors within 64-63.

Whitman’s defense stiffened, though, holding PLU scoreless over the final 91 seconds.

Stone’s free throws gave the Blues breathing room, Casey Poe made it a two-possession game with a single successful shot from the charity stripe, and Taylor Chambers closed things out with two more freebies.

After scoring in double digits in 14 of the first 18 games, Stone was held to a season-low four points (on a season-low four shots), but she used her limited time well, grabbing five boards and handing out two assists.

Senior All-American Poe paced Whitman with 19 points, while junior Maegan Martin exploded off the bench for 18, her single-game best as a college player.

Through 19 games, Stone sits with 267 points, 122 boards, 34 assists, 13 steals and two blocks.

She’s shooting 58% from the floor (113 of 195) and 77% from the free throw line (41 of 53).

Luck runs out in Buffalo:

Coupeville’s other basketball-playing grad, D’Youville College freshman Kailey Kellner, didn’t have as much luck Saturday afternoon.

The Spartans surrendered an eight-point fourth quarter lead, then fell 78-76 in overtime to visiting Pitt-Greensburg.

The extra five minutes were a wild affair, with the teams combining for 32 points, capped by PG gunner Kelsey Oddis hitting what turned out to be a game-winning three-ball with 20 seconds to play.

It was one of seven treys Oddis, a senior averaging 19 points a night, hit en route to a game-high 32.

D’Youville had a chance to tie with seven seconds left, but missed two free throws.

Kellner finished with two assists and a rebound in 10 minutes of play. On the season, she has 46 points, 45 rebounds, 20 assists, eight steals and three blocks.

The loss was a rough one for the Spartans, who are fighting to earn a playoff berth in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.

The top six teams from the 10-team conference advance, but D’Youville (4-7 in league, 5-13 overall) currently sits in 7th, a game behind Penn State-Behrend with seven to play.

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   Makana Stone, here with CHS running mate Sylvia Hurlburt, sparked Whitman to a fifth-straight win Friday night. (Photo courtesy Eileen Stone)

The Human Highlight Reel is back at it.

Throwing down a team-high 16 points and snatching seven boards Friday, Coupeville grad Makana Stone sparked the Whitman College women’s basketball team to its fifth consecutive win.

The Blues, playing the first game of back-to-back road contests in Tacoma, savaged Pacific Lutheran 72-44.

The win, coming in the team’s first conference game, lifts Whitman to 5-1 on the season.

Stone continued to be highly-efficient this season, dropping in 8-12 shots from the field in 23 minutes of action. She also added two assists and two steals.

Casey Poe knocked down 10 to back her, while Whitman got 30 points from its bench players.

Whitman jumped out to a 14-11 lead after one quarter, then steadily added to its lead, with a 24-11 run in the fourth the real killer.

If nothing else, PLU hit a rare achievement in the loss, scoring exactly the same amount of points (11) in every quarter.

The Blues, ranked #8 in D-III, return to the court Saturday to face their arch-rivals, #19 University of Puget Sound.

The schools split four games last season, with UPS winning two regular-season games in overtime. Whitman avenged those losses, however, winning twice in the playoff.

Six games into her sophomore campaign, Stone tops Whitman in points (88), rebounds (41), field goal percentage (66% on 35-53) and free throw percentage (86% on 18-21).

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Tom Sahli (top, last player on right), is joined by McKayla Bailey and Risen Johnson.

   Tom Sahli (top, last player on right), is joined by fellow inductees McKayla Bailey and Risen Johnson.

One physically towered over the crowd, while the other two soared up in the heavens on skill and passion alone.

Whether they were six-foot-three or not, the three superb athletes who form the 83rd class inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame were game-changers and legend-makers.

So, let’s welcome old school hoops hotshot Tom Sahli, new school hoops terror Risen Johnson and the first great superstar of the era when I jumped from newspaper writing to blog ranting and raving — McKayla Bailey.

After this, you’ll find the trio hanging out at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Today, we kick things off with Sahli, a giant from a time when basketball was played mostly below the rim.

A star on Coupeville High School basketball teams in the early ’50s, he went on to play college hoops at Pacific Lutheran University, where he and the rest of the Lutes who played between 1955-1959 are all enshrined in the school’s hall of fame.

Playing under legendary coaches Marv Harshman and Gene Lundgaard, PLU went 100-16 over that four-year span, finishing in the top three at the NAIA national tourney twice.

Sahli started at center for the Lutes varsity basketball squads while on campus, while also finding time to play (and star) on the school’s intramural football team.

While it’s hard to find a ton of info on his CHS days (did anyone keep their paper work and score books?!?), the mere mention of his name still draws raves, and a lot of credit goes to Orson Christensen, who first brought Sahli to my attention.

The other two inductees both played out their careers under my gaze, emerging as electrifying athletes and stellar people.

We got two years of Johnson dazzling us on the hardwood, and they were a wild ride.

The dude had a motor like few others, and rampaged from end to end like a man possessed, yet off the court was the laid-back, impeccably-dressed king of cool.

Put a basketball in his hands and his relative lack of size meant nothing, as he swooped, dove and darted, shredding hapless big men and leaving them flailing at where he had been.

Risen could put the ball in the bucket, from long range and slashing to the hoops, and he was a remarkably tough guy, bouncing off of bodies and the floor, quiet smile rarely leaving his face.

When he was out on the run, kick-starting the break, he was a thing of beauty.

You, me, the guy trying to get back on defense to guard him, sometimes even his own teammates didn’t know where Risen was going or what wonders he was about to lay down.

Johnson could zip laser passes between bodies, finding his teammate’s waiting fingers at just the right angle, or fake a guy out of his shoes, spin him around and bank home a runner like a ballet dancer with supreme hoop hops.

Even when he spun out of control, and the play didn’t go quite as he probably imagined, he was worth the price of admission and more.

If “entertainment” is not Risen’s middle name, it should be.

There have been a lot of good Wolf basketball players over the years, but were any as much of an edge-of-your-seat treat as Risen? I doubt it.

Win by 50, lose by 50, if he was on the floor, there was going to be a show and dang, it was fun to watch.

Our final inductee, Bailey, is already in the Hall as a contributor, for her peerless work as the one true Photo Bomb Queen. Today, though, she goes in for what mattered even more to her, the way she played the game.

A very talented athlete who battled through injuries, McKayla could do it all — basketball, volleyball, soccer (she went from newbie to starting goaltender in the blink of an eye) and, most of all, softball.

When she strode on to the diamond, Bailey was a beast, flinging heat and daring batters to try and dig in.

Her junior year, she took the ball every game, every inning, every pitch and carried the upstart Wolves to the state tourney, the first appearance by the team at the big dance in a decade-plus.

Put a bat in her hand and she would spray hits all afternoon, cracking moon shots to the wall or slicing wicked shots up the middle (or off of rival player’s arms and legs).

She was a terror on the base-paths, smart and enterprising and she was a deadly shortstop when not pitching, sprinting into the hole and firing balls like they were shot out of a cannon towards a patiently-waiting Hailey Hammer at first.

But it was the moments inside the pitcher’s circle, as she stalked around, slapping her glove against her leg, glowering at the batter over the top of her face-mask (when she wore it) and projecting an air of “I am gonna kick your fanny!!” when Bailey was supreme Bailey.

Off the field, in the dugout, at school, in the community, one of the most genuinely outgoing, supremely friendly, blazingly smart young women you will ever know.

But, on the field, a demon unleashed, and dang, the girl who grew from a “diaper dandy” to a seasoned vet, left every ounce of her soul and passion between the lines.

When she looks back at her high school career, it may not be perfect (injuries are a pain in more ways than one), but McKayla should be super proud of all she accomplished.

I know the rest of us are.

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