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Coupeville captains (l to r) Ema Smith, Scout Smith and Lindsey Roberts all came up huge Wednesday as the Wolves won a thriller against Friday Harbor. (Photo by Johnsphotos.net)

Offense sells tickets, but defense wins games.

Luckily for the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team, it was clicking on both sides of the ball Wednesday night.

Powered by a season-high 16 points from Lindsey Roberts, the Wolves exploded on visiting Friday Harbor, then turned to a withering defense (and some pressure-packed free throws from Ema Smith) to nail down a 34-32 win.

The non-conference victory, which came down to the game’s final play, lifts Coupeville to 1-3 on the season.

As exciting as the ending was for the fans, it was heart-stopping for both coaches, as the last 58 seconds were a jumble of nerves, miracle shots, and gut-check plays.

Up 32-27 after Roberts slipped a pair of free throws through the net with just a bit over a minute left on the clock, the Wolves looked in control.

Then Friday Harbor got dramatic.

A pull-up jumper cut the margin to three, before the visitors forced a turnover in the back court on the ensuing in-bounds play.

Taking things from bad to worse for Coupeville, Friday Harbor slid a dagger between the rib cages, knocking down a three-ball from the right side that needed a prayer to hit pay dirt, and got that prayer answered.

With the game knotted at 32 — the first tie since early in the first quarter — it might have been easy for the Wolves to fold. To put up a good fight, fall just short, and accept a moral victory.

To which Coupeville, to a player, said “screw that.”

Ema Smith, who was born with ice water running through her veins, absorbed a foul with 38.6 seconds to go, calmly loped to the line, stared down each Friday Harbor player one after another, then drilled both free throws.

The net barely moved on either shot, the partisan CHS crowd exploded, but Ema Smith didn’t smile. Not yet.

Instead, she and her teammates slapped hands, hunkered down and made not one, but three defensive stands, as the clock spun madly towards 0:00 and the score remained locked at 34-32.

Roberts yanked down a long rebound on the next shot, only to lose her footing and have the ball skid out of bounds.

No problem, as Hannah Davidson, lunging forward/being bulldozed from behind by a Friday Harbor player, pulled in the next rebound.

The fact she ended up on the floor after being pasted sent the Wolf junior to the line with 6.9 ticks left, but the rim turned unforgiving, spitting out both of her charity shots.

Again, no problem, as Ema Smith tipped the rebound to Roberts and … lost in the moment, the Wolves put up a shot instead of holding on to the ball, letting the clock run and getting fouled.

Ball hit rim and kicked way, way out, possibly causing Coupeville coach David King to have an aneurysm as he watched what could have been a game-tying layup at the buzzer by Friday Harbor develop in slow motion.

Except, Lindsey Roberts is fast, and by fast, I mean, faster than anyone in a Friday Harbor uniform could ever hope to be in their entire lifetime.

Roaring past two rivals in a single bound, she flung out her long arms, fingertips made contact with leather as the buzzer roared, and then she was hugging the basketball to her chest like she had saved a baby from a burning building.

Then, and then only, Ema Smith smiled, pummeling her fellow senior captain with glee.

As their teammates crowded around, keeping the celebration going, King sank into his chair, let out his breath with a great whoosh, and smiled, too.

A game that ended with a defensive stand for the ages began as an offensive slug-fest.

Roberts came out firing on all cylinders, dropping eight points in the first quarter.

Toss in a bucket from Nicole Laxton, who scooped up a loose ball and nimbly twirled and banked the ball home, and Coupeville had one of its better offensive frames of the season.

Only problem is, Friday Harbor had an answer for every bucket, then tossed in two more just because, and led 14-10 at the first break.

While the Wolves were trailing, they didn’t look or play as if they were down, though, and promptly took control of the game in the second quarter.

Roberts splatted a three-ball from the left side to cut the lead back to one, then after Friday Harbor’s only bucket of the quarter, Coupeville went to work.

Scout Smith drained a long jumper off of an offensive rebound, then Avalon Renninger pump-faked her defender into the parking lot, spun past her and sank a gorgeous little runner.

That shot proved to be huge, as the Wolves would never trail after Renninger crafted her own personal highlight reel.

Three free throws (two from Chelsea Prescott and one from Scout Smith) sent CHS into the locker room up 20-16, then two jumpers from Scout Smith to kick off the third pushed Coupeville’s lead to eight.

Friday Harbor refused to break, running off six straight points to pull back within 24-22, before Roberts ended the third with a free throw and then a long, crisp outlet pass that perfectly led Prescott to a breakaway layup.

All of which set up the frantic fourth.

King praised his team’s effort from top to bottom, while singling out two players for being a catalyst.

“This was Scout’s best game on the young season. She took care of the ball and defensively stepped up with guarding their #12 post player,” King said. “She did a great job sticking with her and not letting her get to the spots she wanted in their offense. She also deflected many passes, very disruptive.

“I’d also like to throw some praise Tia (Wurzrainer’s) way,” he added. “She is still working on being comfortable with handling the ball. Tonight she helped with getting open on their press. Then, after her steals and rebounds, she dribbled out of trouble.”

Roberts filled up the stat sheet, adding nine rebounds, two steals, two assists and three blocks to go with her game-high 16 points.

The scoring outburst carries her five slots higher on the all-time CHS girls basketball career scoring chart, from #35 to #30.

With 332 points and counting, Roberts passes Mia Littlejohn (317), Marie Grasser (321), Taniel Lamb (330), Misty Sellgren (331) and Amanda Allmer (331).

Scout Smith knocked down seven in support of Roberts, while Prescott (4), Renninger (2), Ema Smith (2), Laxton (2) and Davidson (1) also scored.

Ema Smith ripped down eight boards, with Scout Smith adding four rebounds and three steals.

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   Aram Leyva scored twice Tuesday as Coupeville soccer drilled Port Townsend 3-1, all but clinching a playoff berth for the Wolves. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

Channeling Obi-Wan in Star Wars, the Coupeville High School boys soccer team showed remarkable resiliency Tuesday, and the rewards will be huge.

Four days after absorbing a rough loss at Port Townsend, the Wolf booters rebounded to drill the visiting RedHawks 3-1 Tuesday, capturing their biggest win in the four-year history of the 1A Olympic League.

The victory, which snapped a five-game winless streak, lifts CHS to 4-3 in conference action, 5-6-2 overall.

It also gives the Wolves two wins in three games against Port Townsend this season, and all but clinches second-place in the Olympic League, and the playoff berth that comes with that finish.

After three teams made the postseason annually between 2015-2017, this year only two squads will make the cut, and it would take an epic collapse for Coupeville to not join league champ Klahowya.

Port Townsend (3-4, 3-8) and the Wolves both finish with games against Klahowya (6-0, 9-2-1) and Chimacum (0-6, 0-10).

One CHS win or one PT loss clinches second-place for the Wolves, who finished third in each of the previous three seasons.

It would take two Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea-style miracles for the RedHawks to slide past Coupeville and make the postseason.

First, Chimacum, which has been outscored 101-2 this season (not a typo) would have to beat the Wolves.

Then, Port Townsend would have to break Klahowya’s perfect 27-0 run in Olympic League games.

If BOTH those things happen Friday, I’ll retire on the spot.

So, while the Wolves can’t fully celebrate yet, they took care of most of the dirty work Tuesday, controlling the game from start to finish.

The first half was a scoreless battle for 39+ minutes, with CHS defenders Uriah Kastner and Hunter Downes coming up huge, scrambling to snuff out RedHawk opportunities with quick feet work (and the occasional hip check into the stands).

Coupeville actually had more chances to score, but was thwarted repeatedly by a ref who knew one call – “off-sides” – and used it frequently.

His calls erased one Wolf goal, when Aram Leyva beat the Port Townsend goalie high only to have the score waved off.

Aram’s cousin, laser-shot-firing Derek Leyva, made up for it, though, rifling home the game’s first score late in stoppage time.

After muscling his way through two defenders, the slender assassin rattled the ball home, netting his 21st goal of the season.

That broke the CHS boys single-season scoring mark set in 2016 by Derek’s other cousin, Abraham Leyva, and leaves him just shy of Mia Littlejohn’s school record of 27 goals in one campaign.

Having broken the record, Derek Leyva turned into an assist machine in the second half, setting Aram Leyva up twice.

The first score came on a throw-in by Sam Wynn that Derek corraled, then skipped across the field right onto Aram’s toe.

One quick swing of his powerful leg later, it was 2-0 Wolves and the game looked to be in the bag.

But Port Townsend was plucky, and finally broke through with a little over 14 minutes left in the game.

A ferocious scrum broke out in front of the net, and, in the melee, a RedHawk managed to poke the ball past an otherwise-occupied Wolf goalie Dewitt Cole.

With the lead cut to 2-1, Cole and his defensive crew went into lock-down mode.

Axel Partida, Teo Keilwitz and Co. were impenetrable the rest of the game, blunting Port Townsend’s best efforts, while Cole made a couple of nimble late saves.

Just to make sure things would stay the way they were supposed to, the Leyva boys broke out another beauty with 10 minutes to play.

Derek crushed another crossing pass, though this time Aram came cartwheeling in, using his head to bank the ball past the flailing RedHawk net-minder.

With two scores on the afternoon, Aram ran his season total to nine goals, as the cousins have combined for 30 of the team’s 47 goals.

That leaves Coupeville just one score shy of the 2016 team, which scored 48 times, the most by any Wolf boys team in the last decade.

While he’s not looking past Chimacum, no matter what their troubles might be, Coupeville coach Kyle Nelson was quite happy to marinate (for a moment, at least) in finally exorcising the RedHawks.

The Wolves came up empty all seven times they played Port Townsend between 2015-2017 before taking two of three this time around.

“That’s huge. Nice to finally turn it around and take down our nemesis,” he said. “The games have been close with them, always, but today we brought the energy we didn’t have for some reason Friday.

“We talked about that before the game,” Nelson added. “And they really responded!”

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   Wolf sophomore Mason Grove has torched the nets at both the JV and varsity levels this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Allen Black, basketball gunner extraordinaire turned daddy, and the legend Grove is chasing.

   CHS basketball announcer Moose Moran bags the first of many interviews with Grove. (Renae Mulholland photo)

Shooters gotta shoot.

It’s hardwired in their DNA, the need to let the ball fly and the ability to make sure said ball hits nothing but net on the way down.

As Mason Grove tears up the court this season, it brings back memories of Allen Black, another Wolf gunner with no conscious and an electric shooting touch.

Black holds the unofficial CHS basketball scoring record for JV players, torching the nets for 347 points during his junior season in 2002-2003.

A year later, he was a varsity star, an All-Conference pick who led Coupeville in scoring with 305 points, including 39 against Concrete.

Grove, who is operating as a swing player during his sophomore season, is hot on Black’s trail, having dropped in 294 points through the first 15 JV games of the season.

With four games left on the schedule, Grove, who is averaging 19.6 a night, needs 54 points to top Black.

Mason should be able to beat it, he’s pretty good,” said the always low-key Black, who remains open to the idea of the duo joining a who’s-who of past and present Wolf shooters in a three-ball competition.

“Three-point contest like an All-Star game, with a bunch of people, would be cool,” Mr. Easy Rider said with a small grin — the smile of a shark circling his prey.

For his part, Grove is heating up the rims at two levels this season, using brief bursts of varsity playing time to rattle home 42 points at that level.

That puts him in a fourth-place tie with Hunter Downes among varsity players.

Whether he gets enough floor time at the JV level in the final four games to catch Black or not, Grove’s explosive season has caught the eyes of coaches and fans alike.  

First-year Coupeville head coach Brad Sherman has first-hand knowledge of both Grove and Black, helping coach the former and having played with the latter.

“I just remember that Allen was seriously quick and hard to keep up with on the court,” Sherman said. “Mason really continues to impress from behind the arc this season.

“Similar styles of play, both hard workers on the court, and both with the ability to score a bunch in a really short span.”

That is proven by a quick look at their stats.

Black rained down 19 points in a single JV quarter against Concrete, the team he would return to haunt as a varsity star, while Grove has twice thrown down 17 in a quarter this season, shredding Port Townsend and Chimacum.

Grove has scored in every JV game this season, something Black also did in his day.

For the moment, Black has the edge in 20-point games (9-6), and double-digit scoring (17-13), but Grove returns the favor in 30-point games (3-1).

Having seen both of the gunners in their prime, Sherman, no slouch himself from the outside during a career where he finished #8 on the CHS boys career scoring chart, has a solid appreciation for what Black and Grove bring to the floor.

“As shooters — very quick releases are hard to defend, and (both) never afraid to shoot when they get a good look,” Sherman said. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that these are the two at the top of this list.”

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   Chris Ruck netted a three-ball Saturday, scoring his first points as a Wolf hoops star. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville’s young guns were firing on all cyclinders.

Mason Grove broke 30 points for the third time this season in a JV game, while the Wolf C-Team, making its debut Saturday, came from behind for a victory.

That made for a hectic, but largely satisfying day for CHS coach Chris Smith.

JV:

Sultan’s depth proved to be too much for Coupeville in a 72-54 loss, but Grove’s season-long assault on the net continued.

The Wolf sophomore, who has swung between JV and varsity this year, rained down eight three-balls on his way to a game-high 32.

That follows on the heels of 34 and 33-point performances against Port Townsend earlier this season, and marks the biggest scoring binge by a Coupeville JV player since the 2002-2003 glory days of Allen Black.

Grove has big shoes to fill, as Black, a junior at the time, went off for 347 points in 19 games as a JV player.

He then returned the next year and scored 305 points as a varsity star, earning All-Conference honors.

Grove, who also has 15 varsity points this season, has 235 points in 12 JV games, which means he’s currently ahead of Black’s pace (19.6-18.3).

Facing off with Sultan, Grove got support from Jacobi Pilgrim, who dropped a trio of three-balls on his way to nine points, and Ulrik Wells, who banged down low for six.

Jean Lund-Olsen (4), Gavin Knoblich (2) and David Prescott (1) also scored.

C-Team:

With a ginormous JV roster this season, thanks to a larger-than-expected turnout, Smith and CHS varsity coach Brad Sherman have been scrambling to find some games against C-Teams, as well.

After storming back from seven down at the half Saturday to win 42-39, the third squad travels to Sequim next Saturday, Jan. 20, where it will play their hosts and Port Angeles in a double-header.

Facing off with the Turks, the Wolves fell behind early, then turned on the afterburners.

Down 11-6 after one and 23-16 at the half, CHS sliced the lead to 29-26 heading into the fourth quarter, before turning the game over to Sage Downes.

The freshman singed the nets for seven of his game-high 17 in the final eight minutes, while James Vidoni added a pair of buckets to aid the late-game rally.

Tucker Hall banked home eight (while snagging five rebounds), Vidoni added six points and seven boards and Chris Ruck swished a three-ball for his first CHS points.

Alex Jimenez (4), Daniel Olson (2) and Trevor Bell (2) also scored, while Matt Stevens and Ryan Labrador saw floor time.

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Wolf senior May Rose notched her first goal of the season Tuesday in a 7-2 win at Chimacum. (John Fisken photo)

   Wolf senior May Rose notched her first goal of the season Tuesday in a 7-2 win at Chimacum. (John Fisken photos)

Tia Wurzrainer

   Fab frosh Tia Wurzrainer recently moved up front, and it paid off against the Cowboys, as she tallied her first two high school goals.

One record tied, another broken.

Raining down destruction on host Chimacum from every angle Tuesday, the Coupeville High School girls’ soccer squad romped to a 7-2 win.

The victory, spurred by a momentous night from Mia Littlejohn, lifts the Wolves to 4-1 in 1A Olympic League play, 6-2-1 overall.

Coupeville trails Klahowya (3-0) by percentage points atop the league standings, while Port Townsend (1-3) and Chimacum (0-4) are fading fast.

The win allows the 2016 Wolves to tie the ’14 and ’15 teams for most victories in a single season in program history.

Barring a colossal collapse, that record should easily fall, as CHS still has seven regular-season games left on its schedule.

Those games, which begin with a non-conference tilt at home against 2A Port Angeles Thursday (5:15 PM) will give Littlejohn a chance to further add to her season goal total, which now stands above any other Wolf to play the sport.

Rattling home goals #20 and #21 against the Cowboys, the reigning WIAA Athlete of the Week tied, then passed, Abraham Leyva for the school’s single-season scoring mark.

Now that Littlejohn has the season mark, the school’s career record is her next target.

The CHS junior has tallied 29 goals in her stellar career, while Leyva notched 45 scores before graduating in June.

Another sharpshooter with her eye on the scoring marks is Mia’s little sister, sophomore Kalia Littlejohn.

The baby of the family torched the nets for two more goals herself Tuesday, giving her six for the season and 16 for her career.

Kalia finally got the monkey off her back,” said Coupeville coach Troy Cowan. “She has been struggling with her offensive game but I told her to be patient and that she has the greatest foot skills I have ever seen, so use them.

“The second half she started listening, winning possession and scoring goals.”

While the Littlejohns were up to their old ways, two other Wolves scribbled their name into the scoring column for the first time this season.

Senior May Rose connected on one, while freshman Tia Wurzrainer, who has recently moved up the field after playing defense for much of the year, tallied a pair.

May is a very hard working player and tonight her hard work paid off,” Cowan said.

Tia should have probably scored four or five, but she is so unselfish,” he added. “I am hoarse from hollering at her! She is a special player and has a bright future with the Wolves.”

The Wolves worked the ball extremely well, with assists on six of the seven scores.

Mia Littlejohn set up a pair, while Sage Renninger, Lauren Bayne, Wurzrainer and Avalon Renninger all put the ball right where their teammates could take advantage.

Cowan praised them all, but saved a few words for his captain.

Sage is serving the most beautiful balls I have ever seen. I mean she is just dialed in and is electric.”

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