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Avalon Renninger had four points and six rebounds Saturday as the Coupeville varsity girls absorbed a tough road loss. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Legendary basketball coach George Raveling once said, “Life is about turning obstacles into opportunities.”

It’s a lesson the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team will need to embrace.

The Wolves looked like they were headed for their second-straight win Saturday, but took an unexpected left turn off a cliff with no parachute, watching in horror as their victory slipped away.

Able to score only seven points across the game’s final 16 minutes, Coupeville surrendered an eight-point advantage, tumbling to an unexpected 31-27 loss at Orcas Island.

The non-conference defeat drops the Wolves to 1-4 on the season.

With four days until their North Sound Conference opener at South Whidbey, it also presents them with a major gut-check moment.

“Now it’s up to us to turn things around,” said CHS coach David King. “Tonight’s game was an unexpected obstacle. This coming week will determine if we can turn it into opportunities.”

Despite a long day of bus and ferry travel to get to a far-flung outpost, Coupeville came out strongly, using its defensive press to disrupt the Orcas attack.

While they struggled a bit with turnovers, the Wolves did get going on offense in the second quarter, taking a 5-5 stalemate after one quarter and turning it into a 20-12 lead at the half.

Sophomore Chelsea Prescott and senior Ema Smith were a two-woman wrecking crew in the opening half, combining for 11 of their team’s points, with all of them coming in the second frame.

Prescott got hers the old-fashioned way, hitting three field goals, while Ema Smith stroked a three-ball and slipped a pair of free throws through the twines.

Toss in a pair of buckets from Avalon Renninger, a long trey off the fingertips of Scout Smith and a field goal from Lindsey Roberts, and CHS was beginning to click on the offensive end of the floor.

One of Renninger’s scores was especially highlight reel worthy.

A long pass intended for Roberts flew over her head as she charged down the sideline in pursuit.

Instead of giving up, the senior captain hit another gear only she has, saving the ball at the last millisecond (while crashing into the Orcas ticket-taker) and re-directing it towards her teammate.

Sprinting up the middle of the floor, Renninger, a professional ball-hawk, snatched the loose orb, pivoted and promptly banged home the bucket to complete an “all-out hustle play.”

Unfortunately for the Wolves, things dried up severely after that.

“Coming out for the third, everything went sideways,” King said. “We couldn’t take care of the ball, and, when we did, our offense slowed down to a snail’s pace.”

Coupeville went nearly five minutes into the second half without scoring, finally breaking through on a free throw from Prescott and a breakaway layup by Tia Wurzrainer.

And yet, despite tallying just three points in the third, the Wolves were holding on to the lead heading into the fourth.

But, up by four, they continued to stall on offense and didn’t help themselves at the free throw line, missing all five of their attempts in the final quarter.

“Orcas had taken the momentum from us; they kept fighting and got into the bonus and in the fourth they shot eight free throws and made four,” King said. “They also beat our press a couple of times with a full court dribble-drive that resulted in layups or getting to the free throw line.

“We played very well for about a quarter and a half,” he added. “The game is four quarters, and we just didn’t get it done and Orcas did.”

The way they lost, even more than the L itself, is what haunts the man at the helm.

“As a coach, this was a tough loss,” King said. “We can’t take possessions off — not keeping the ball moving — on offense. We turn the ball over 21 times, it’s going to show up in our ability to score.”

But there are still 13 regular season games left, including all 10 league contests, and Coupeville’s coach is confident his team can find its sweet spot.

“I was pleased with the press and the many deflections and our 16 steals,” King said. “Just need to convert those.

“We will see if we can correct some things,” he added. “We have to learn when we have a lead, we can’t let up.”

Prescott paced the Wolves with nine points, three rebounds and two steals, while Ema Smith (5), Renninger (4), Roberts (4), Scout Smith (3) and Wurzrainer (2) also scored.

Hannah Davidson and Renninger each snatched six rebounds, Ema Smith topped the stat sheet with five steals and Scout Smith doled out two assists.

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Coupeville 8th grader Mitchell Hall notched eight points Thursday at Sultan. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolf 7th grade coach Greg White and his sharp-shooting point guard (and son) Cole watch a recent high school game.

Four games, four very different results.

The Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads trekked to the wilds of Sultan Thursday, and while the Wolves lost all four contests, the scores differed wildly.

 

8th grade varsity:

CMS came within a basket or two of sweeping the season series with their rivals, but fell just short.

Coupeville had strong first and third quarters, but cold shooting in the other two frames doomed it in a 28-26 nail-biter.

The loss drops the Wolves to 1-7 on the season.

“They got us, it sure is a stinger,” said CMS coach Dante Mitchell. “But I can’t be more proud of the guy’s heart and hustle they showed tonight.”

His squad torched the nets for 10 points in the first and third, but were held to two and four in the second and fourth.

Free throws also hurt the Wolves, as they connected on just 2-9 from the charity stripe.

Mitchell Hall and Alex Murdy paced Coupeville with eight points apiece, while Ty Hamilton tossed in four.

Alex Wasik, Kevin Partida and Dominic Coffman rounded out the Wolf scoring machine with a bucket each, with Levi Pulliam, Jesse Wooten and Josh Upchurch also seeing floor time.

 

7th grade varsity:

The roughest part of the afternoon, as Coupeville inadvertently played the role of the log being force-fed into the chipper.

Facing a brutally-good Turk team, the Wolves, now 2-6, suffered through their coldest offensive performance of the season, falling 47-7.

While his team fought until the end, CMS coach Greg White could see this loss coming.

“Sultan has the best 7th grade team I’ve seen,” he said. “They’ve got some great athletes.”

The Turks blew out to a 17-3 lead after one quarter, stretched the margin to 34-3 by halftime, then coasted home on fumes in the second half.

Cole White, Logan Downes and Mikey Robinett each scored two, while Nick Guay arced a free-throw through the net to complete the limited offensive fireworks for the Wolves.

Ryan Blouin, William Davidson and Zane Oldenstadt rounded out the CMS roster.

 

7th/8th JV:

A joint team, with three eighth-graders (Pulliam, Wooten and Upchurch) joining the younger crew, played twice, facing off with separate Sultan squads.

CMS doesn’t have enough 8th grade players to form different JV teams this season.

Both final scores were lost to the winds, as Sultan’s books went missing, but we know for a fact Coupeville scored 12 points across the pair of two-quarter games, and they were both Wolf losses.

Robinett had the hottest hand for the Wolves, knocking down a team-high six, while Pulliam netted four and Chris Villarreal added a bucket.

Quinten Pilgrim, Timothy Nitta, Andrew Williams, Alex Clark and Justin Wilkinson all saw floor time as well.

 

Next up:

Coupeville wraps its 10-game season with a pair of contests on the Island, traveling to Langley Dec. 11, then hosting Granite Falls Dec. 13.

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Cole White tossed in 11 points Thursday in a narrow loss to King’s. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

What’s a Dollar worth? About 19 points and a win, that’s what.

Sparked by the son of former UCLA great Cameron Dollar, King’s Junior High eked out some payback against Coupeville Middle School Thursday, avenging an early season boys basketball loss to the Wolves.

With Jalen Dollar, who wasn’t eligible the first time around, pouring in 19 of his team’s points, the Knights held off a scrappy CMS 7th grade varsity squad, escaping with a 28-25 win in Shoreline.

The elder Dollar played four seasons at UCLA, helping the Bruins win three Pac-10 crowns and a 1995 national title.

He was a major factor in the championship win, an 89-78 upset of defending champs Arkansas in a game played in front of 38,540 fans at Seattle’s Kingdome.

UCLA star Ed O’Bannon, who was the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player, threw down 30 points and snared 17 boards, but it was Cameron Dollar who was singled out for special praise by coach Jim Harrick afterwards.

Stepping in when starting point guard Tyus Edney went down with an injury in the first half, Dollar finished with a game-high eight assists and four steals.

After his playing days ended in ’97, the Bruin legend became a coach and has worked at seven different NCAA schools over the past 20 years. He’s currently an assistant at the University of Washington.

The loss drops Coupeville to 2-4 on the season, but Wolf coach Greg White and his players weren’t hanging their heads after going toe-to-toe with the big boys.

“Tough loss tonight, but the boys actually played their best game of the season,” he said. “They moved the ball well against a press.”

The Wolves hung tough all game, trailing by just a bucket at the half.

King’s used an 11-7 surge in the third quarter, with Dollar dropping a pair of three-balls, to put some room between the teams, only to see Coupeville put together an 8-5 run of its own in the fourth.

Cole White poured in a season-high 11 to pace the Wolves, while Logan Downes popped for nine and William Davidson slapped home five.

Ryan Blouin, Zane Oldenstadt, Nick Guay, Mikey Robinett, and Quinten Pilgrim also saw floor time for Coupeville.

 

7th grade JV:

The second unit didn’t generate a ton of offense, but played pretty well on defense in an 11-2 loss.

Robinett banked home Coupeville’s lone bucket, while Pilgrim, Justin Wilkinson, Alex Clark, Timothy Nitta, Andrew Williams, and Chris Villarreal were all in action for CMS during the two-quarter game.

 

8th grade varsity:

Mitchell Hall continues to captivate, but not even he was enough to quell a fierce Knights squad which stormed to a 51-22 win.

The loss drops the Wolves to 1-5.

Hall, who has come on strongly in the past few games, tossed in eight points to pace CMS, while Levi Pulliam knocked down a pair of buckets in support.

Dominic Coffman and Alex Wasik each added three, with Coffman drilling a trey, Alex Murdy and Kevin Partida had a basket apiece and Ty Hamilton, Josh Upchurch, and Jesse Wooten chipped in with hustle and hard work.

All three Coupeville teams return home for their next game, with Northshore Christian scheduled to travel to Whidbey Dec. 4.

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Coupeville 7th grader Logan Downes outscored Granite Falls by himself Thursday afternoon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Logan Downes was so hot Thursday, he didn’t just singe the nets, he burned down an entire town.

Outscoring host Granite Falls by himself, the youngest of three brothers staked his claim to family athletic superiority and sparked the Coupeville Middle School 7th grade varsity boys basketball squad to a huge road win.

The victory was a bright spot for the Wolves, who lost two of three on the day.

 

7th grade varsity:

Pouring in points in every quarter, Downes rained down 19 in a 27-16 Wolf victory.

The win evens Coupeville’s record at 2-2 headed into an 11-day break.

None of the CMS hoops teams play again until Nov. 27, when they host Lakewood.

Wanting to go out on a high note, and possibly send a message to older brothers Hunter and Sage, Logan Downes went straight to scorch city.

He popped in four points apiece in each of the first two quarters, then scored all of Coupeville’s seven points in the third quarter.

Four free throws in the final frame capped Downes season-best performance, while lifting his season scoring average to 14.3 a night.

Cole White knocked down a three-ball en route to a four-point performance in support of Downes, while William Davidson and Quinten Pilgrim each banked home a bucket.

Ryan Blouin, Nick Guay and Mikey Robinett rounded out the roster for the Wolves, who outscored Granite in every quarter.

Up by just one at the first break, then four at the half, CMS put the game away with a 14-7 second-half surge.

The Wolves held Granite to just two field goals over the final three quarters of play.

 

8th grade varsity:

Playing without their leading scorer, the older Wolves fell 31-14.

The loss drops the 8th graders to 1-3 on the season.

CMS played without high-scoring Alex Murdy, but got a season-best performance from Mitchell Hall.

He went off for eight points and 10 rebounds, both career-highs, and drew praise from coach Dante Mitchell.

“He was killing it on the boards and on offense. He has a lot of heart!”

Ty Hamilton rattled the rims for six points to round out Coupeville’s offensive output.

 

7th grade JV:

The young guns came up empty in their first road game, falling 23-0 to the Tigers.

The loss drops the JV to 0-1-1 on the season.

Coupeville went just five deep in the two-quarter contest, with Justin Wilkinson, Andrew Williams, Alex Clark, Chris Villarreal and Timothy Nitta pulling iron man duty.

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   Scout Smith sizzled at the plate, on defense and in the pitcher’s circle Monday as CHS softball swept a doubleheader from Blaine. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This wasn’t one player having a good day. Or two, or even three.

This was a team, from top to bottom, firing on all cylinders and beating the living snot out of their foes in one fiery, day-long assault on the scoreboard.

By the time the red-hot Coupeville High School softball sluggers were done Monday, they had rocked Blaine pitching for 29 hits, including four doubles, two triples and a home run to straight-away center field.

So it should come as little surprise that the Wolves returned from the Canadian border bearing not one, but two wins, having swept the Borderites 12-1 and 20-6.

The non-conference victories, coming against a large 2A school, stretches Coupeville’s win streak to three games and lifts its record to 5-1.

After a couple of days to enjoy spring break, the Wolves play three home games in two days, hosting Meridian Friday and Forks Saturday. The second of those match-ups will be another doubleheader.

If CHS comes out swinging like it did against Blaine, the games will be over quickly, though it may not be painless for their opponents.

Coupeville scored in 12 of 13 innings at Blaine, failing to notch at least one run in just the top of the third in game #2.

Even then, they came within an inch of doing so, their run-scoring dream only denied when Blaine’s pitcher made a fairly spectacular snag on a scorching liner off the bat of Sarah Wright.

Mostly a wild defensive move, a bid to save her rib cage from being tattooed by the incoming laser, it earned well-deserved cheers from both teams.

Pretty much every other applause-worthy moment on the afternoon came courtesy of a Coupeville player, as the Wolves mashed from the top of the lineup to the bottom.

Toss in a nearly error-free defense, including a couple of great throws on the move from freshman third-baseman Chelsea Prescott and a “I said, sit down!” throw from Wright to nail a would-be base stealer, and CHS hurlers Katrina McGranahan and Scout Smith just had to be consistent, not inspired.

Not that the duo listened, as they took turns keeping the Blaine hitters off balance and both had stretches where they retired Borderites at a steady clip.

So, a very satisfying, if long, day for CHS coach Kevin McGranahan.

“We came off the bus ready to go; the whole offense just chipped away and kept fighting,” he said. “Everybody got a lot of solid playing time and we gained a lot of experience for our younger players against a big 2A school.

“This is how we build our program and these girls are all buying into the program and giving everything they have every game,” McGranahan added. “Game to game there are stars of the game, but really, this is a TEAM, and they all play for each other. Outstanding day for the Wolves!!”

Game #1:

Using speed and base-running guile to their advantage, the Wolves steadily built a lead, scoring in every inning and pushing the game into 10-run rule territory after the sixth inning.

Early RBI’s from Katrina McGranahan and Nicole Laxton staked CHS to a 2-0 lead, then Wright and Veronica Crownover bashed back-to-back run-producing base-knocks in the third to help their team begin to pull away.

Coupeville really surged in the fourth, when Laxton and Mackenzie Davis came around to score on a two-run single by Lauren Rose.

Davis beat the throw to home by a millisecond, dipping to get below the tag at just the right moment.

Hope Lodell cranked a wicked liner to center field to spur a rally in the fifth, and the Wolves came within an out of pulling off the shutout before Blaine scored its solitary run.

The bottom of the sixth also included some major Katrina McGranahan mojo, as she recorded her seventh and eighth strikeouts, then accidentally exploded an inside pitch off a Borderite batter’s hip.

Ball hit bone with the kind of sound normally reserved for runaway semi trucks hitting grocery carts full of glass bottles, causing even the toughest softball lifers to flinch and mutter under their breath, “Dang! She’s probably dead!!”

She wasn’t, thankfully, and even stayed in the game, after much hobbling around while wailing “Take me now, sweet Jesus!”

Katrina McGranahan, among the classiest of all classy athletes, profusely apologized to her inadvertent bulls-eye, even while knowing, deep in the back of her brain, that not a single Blaine hitter would even remotely crowd the plate the rest of the season.

Game #2:

Showing some chippiness, the Borderites returned from the between-games snack break ready to do some damage, and actually carried a 5-3 lead into the fifth inning.

Coupeville mixed up its lineup a bit, with freshmen Coral Caveness and Mollie Bailey getting major playing time and Smith coming on to replace McGranahan in the pitcher’s circle in the third.

After scraping out a run in both the first and second, thanks largely to hits from Smith and Prescott, CHS briefly stalled out.

Falling behind 5-2, the Wolves chipped back with a run in the fourth, courtesy an RBI single into the gap from Smith, then turned the volume to 11 in the fifth.

Seven of the first eight CHS hitters reached base in the inning, with Prescott lashing a two-run triple to tie the game, before Crownover poked an RBI single over the bag at first to put the Wolves back ahead for good.

RBI’s from Laxton and Smith, packaged around Emma Mathusek being drilled (in the toe, not the hip, and she appreciates it) stretched the lead to 9-5, and then it was time to get medieval.

With two on and two away, Wright hefted her bat like Thor wielding his hammer and sauntered to the plate.

At that exact moment, a particularly cold gust of wind surprise-attacked from behind the bleachers, ripping through the souls (and across the exposed legs) of any fans dumb enough to be wearing shorts.

The goosebumps hadn’t even settled, though, when Coupeville’s catcher turned on a pitch and tore the stitching off the ball.

By the time the hapless orb dropped out of sight, landing on the other side of the center field fence, Wright was halfway to second, and she only slowed down when her teammates charged out of the dugout, ready to gang-tackle her as the ump twirled his hand to signal a three-run dagger of a long-ball.

Her home run marked the end of Wright’s day, as Bailey, who had already taken over her catching duties several innings earlier, also took her spot in the hitting order after that.

Bailey walked during a seven-run seventh, a final Wolf explosion which included RBI singles from Mathusek and Crownover and a gut-check slide into home from Laxton.

Arriving at the same moment as an incoming ball, the Wolf junior collided with the Blaine catcher and took the brunt of the blow.

While it obviously hurt, she was safe, however, and limped back to the bench to be healed by her teammate’s extended cheers.

By the time the stats were totaled up, Crownover came out as the Hit Queen, rattling off five base-knocks on the day, including a double.

Smith and Prescott had four hits apiece, with Lodell, Wright and Caveness each collecting three.

Mathusek (2), Laxton (2), Rose (1), Davis (1) and Katrina McGranahan (1) rounded out the attack.

Seven of those 29 hits were of the extra-base variety, with Wright (2B, HR), Lodell (2B, 3B), Prescott (3B), Crownover (2B) and Katrina McGranahan (2B) all making the big turn at first and heading off to extended glory.

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