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Coupeville’s Ja’Kenya Hoskins battles with Mount Vernon Christian’s Kylee Russell this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The 15th time was the sweetest.

After never finishing higher than fifth place in 14 previous trips to the state tournament, the Mount Vernon Christian girls basketball program achieved nirvana Saturday night.

Holding off Neah Bay 37-33 at the Spokane Arena, the Hurricanes captured the 1B state title.

It’s the third crown for teams from the Northwest 2B/1B League during the 2021-2022 school year.

In the fall, La Conner won the 2B volleyball title, while Orcas Island ruled 2B/1B boys soccer.

MVC, which handed Coupeville 55-24 and 43-23 losses in league play, finishes 23-3.

The Hurricanes knocked off Pomeroy, Naselle, Garfield-Palouse, and Neah Bay in the 16-team state tourney to claim the crown.

Getting the final victory was a bit of struggle, however, as MVC trailed by 11 points in the second half.

Still down four with less than four to go, the ‘Canes closed the season on an 8-0 run, with five different players scoring.

Kylee Russell, Allie Heino, Caitlin Vander Kooy, Emma Droog, and Hannah Van Hofwegen all chipped in to fuel the frantic final run.

The championship caps a postseason in which five NWL hoops teams made it to the state tourney.

On the boys side, Coupeville pushed Kalama and Lake Roosevelt hard in 2B tourney games in their first trip to the big dance in 34 years, while MVC and Orcas Island made the 1B draw.

The Hurricane boys beat Riverside Christian, before being eliminated by Lummi Nation.

Orcas lost to Wellpinit in its one state game.

The NWL team which was heavily favored to win a state title, the top-ranked La Conner girls, finished fourth after being upended by eventual champ Warden in the quarterfinals.

The Braves, who opened with a win over Chief Leschi, rebounded from their loss to beat Lake Roosevelt and Raymond.

Liberty (Spangle) won the 2B boys crown, joining Warden as champs, while the Cusick boys matched the MVC girls in bringing home the biggest hardware.

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Wolves (left to right) Cole White, Logan Downes, and Grady Rickner soak up the atmosphere at the 2B state basketball tourney.

Marinate in the moment.

The Coupeville High School boys basketball team went back to the state tournament for the first time in 34 years, building memories every step of the way.

The pics above and below, capturing a behind-the-scenes look at the Wolves in Spokane, come to us courtesy Morgan White.

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Alex Murdy was a breakout star on both ends of the floor this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Right now, right here, it’s going to hurt.

When you leave your sweat and blood on the hardwood, and you’re left, hands on knees, watching the final moments of your high school hoops career tick away too rapidly, you want the scoreboard to reflect a win.

And when it doesn’t, it stings. Badly.

So, in the moment, it’s very likely the Coupeville High School boys basketball players will exit Spokane unsatisfied, unhappy, incomplete.

A 62-53 loss to Lake Roosevelt at the 2B state tournament, in a game in which the Wolves led from opening tip to midway through the third quarter, abruptly ends a season for the ages.

Coming on the heels of a narrow loss to top-ranked Kalama in their state opener, the defeat drops Coupeville to 16-2 and sends it home several days earlier than hoped.

Lake Roosevelt (17-6), a boys basketball program making its 18th appearance at the big dance, advances to the state quarterfinals, where it will play #2 Liberty (Spangle).

One team still harbors hopes of a state title, while the other is done, with six seniors headed towards graduation.

But, if not now, at some point — on the bus ride back to Whidbey, somewhere in the middle of a spring sports season ready to get underway, months from now, or when they are old men — each of the players on this year’s CHS team will hopefully feel something deeper than this momentary pain.

Pride.

A sense of accomplishment.

Appreciation for their place in a 105-year history.

In a season that was unlike any other — when three-a-week Covid tests meant you never knew who would be in the lineup from night to night — this group of Wolves changed the culture of the program.

They were the last unbeaten 2B boys team standing in the state.

They won a league title for the first time since 2002, back when coach Brad Sherman was still a player.

They won a district crown for the first time since 1970.

They advanced to the state tourney for the first time since 1988, and rocked two dynasty programs back on their heels, hard.

Beyond the wins, at a time when mask mandates and pandemic fatigue could have crippled attendance at games, these Wolves brought the joy back.

They flew to the ball on defense.

They smacked their closest rivals — shredding South Whidbey and ensuring Oak Harbor will cry for a decade — and didn’t back down or crack under pressure.

They shared the ball, feeding the hot hand, each player doing the small things and celebrating each other.

They were, in short, a team, and not a collection of individuals.

They filled the stands to bursting — making the gym in 2022 feel like what old-school Wolf fans tell us it was like in the go-go ’70s.

Former Coupeville hoops stars Chuck Hardee (middle) and Bill Jarrell stopped by the Spokane Arena to join Renae Mulholland in cheering on the new-school Wolves.

Most of all, these Wolves have made the next generation want to be basketball stars.

From the lil’ kids dancing behind the bench at games, getting high-fives from X and Hawk and Dom, to the elementary school students who packed Main Street to cheer the team bus departing for state, one thing rings true.

Coupeville is a basketball town again.

Today, they cheer. Tomorrow, they’re Coupeville’s next basketball stars. (Mandi Black photo)

So, to the Wolves, when you look back at the Lake Roosevelt game in an hour, a day, a decade, a lifetime, the score will slip away.

What you built, how you played, that will remain.

You earned the respect of those in the stands, and those at home watching the stream.

You played like wild animals unleashed Wednesday night, and it was freakin’ beautiful to see.

When everything was clicking in the early going, when Coupeville busted out to a 9-0 run to open a game which tipped off at a hair past 9 PM, it was carnage unleashed.

The Maraudin’ Murdy boys were up in every ballhandler’s face — Xavier looking intense and Alex looking genuinely unhinged (that’s a compliment) — and Lake Roosevelt had no answer.

Coupeville, meanwhile, was acing every test question.

Grady Rickner popped a silky-smooth jumper.

Every time a Lake Roosevelt player tried to ramble through the paint, Caleb Meyer was there to deny entry.

Xavier Murdy slashed hard to the hoop, his brother delivering the ball with a wicked pass which skidded through a defender’s hands.

Then, bobbing and weaving and smooth-talking both the ref and the defender — all while nonchalantly flicking the ball skyward — Hawthorne Wolfe stroked the first of his four three-balls.

Lake Roosevelt didn’t totally crack, but even chipping away at the lead, it trailed 15-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Logan Martin came up with a resounding block down low to snuff out a late shot and the Wolves headed to the bench with a spring in their step.

The Wolves wait for their moment in the spotlight. (Morgan White photo)

The good times continued through a chunk of the second frame, with Logan Downes and Wolfe nailing back-to-back treys to get the lead up to double-digits at 21-11.

Later in the quarter, when Downes, a sweet-shooting sophomore, rained down another three-ball, his wing man launched a celebration big enough to catch the attention of the NFHS Network announcers.

“Get yourself a hype man like Hawthorne Wolfe!” one of the voice-over dudes crowed.

“He knew that shot was going in before it left Downes fingertips, and man, was he happy about it!”

But you don’t build the kind of hoops legacy Lake Roosevelt has by giving up, and the guys who live up by the Grand Coulee Dam mounted a comeback in the second half.

Coupeville, up 28-23 at the half, was still ahead 32-29 several minutes into the third, after Xavier Murdy savagely rejected a shot, then set Rickner up for a bucket on the ensuing breakaway.

Lake Roosevelt launched an 11-0 run, however, snatching the lead for the first time all night, eventually stretching their own advantage out to 10 points.

The Wolves proved almost as resilient, using a 6-0 spurt at the end of the third to get within four, then an 8-2 surge in the fourth to cut the margin to 50-47.

That was as close as Coupeville would get, however, despite Wolfe putting together a final quarter to remember.

Hawthorne Wolfe, making highlights to the end. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A four-year varsity starter, Hawk has played a vital role in this year’s success, while also losing three games (and his Senior Night) to Covid protocols.

The young man who came of age on the floor wearing the name of his fallen teammate, Bennett Boyles, etched on his shoes, went out honoring their shared legacy.

Playing in what would turn out to be his final high school hoops clash, Hawk got the magic going, knocking down a pair of in-close floaters and a pair of way-out-there three-balls, dropping 10 of his team-high 16 points in the final frame.

Wolfe’s final basket as a Wolf was vintage Hawk, the ball arcing to the heavens before flipping the nets and making a bit of history.

That final three-ball gives Wolfe exactly 800 points in a CHS uniform, making him the 14th Coupeville boy to achieve the feat in 105 years.

Among those he joins in the club are three of his coaches – Sherman (874), Arik Garthwaite (867), and Hunter Smith (847).

Xavier Murdy and Downes each tossed in 10 points in support of Wolfe, with the former closing his own stellar prep career with 482 points.

Rickner (7), Meyer (5), and Alex Murdy (5) also scored, with Cole White and Martin seeing floor time.

The game was the swan song for seniors Meyer, Rickner, Wolfe, Xavier Murdy, Martin, and Miles Davidson, who recorded stats this season while rehabbing an injury.

 

Final season scoring stats:

Xavier Murdy – 261
Caleb Meyer – 179
Logan Downes – 172
Alex Murdy – 157
Grady Rickner – 151
Hawthorne Wolfe – 138
Logan Martin – 50
Cole White – 37
Dominic Coffman – 21
Jonathan Valenzuela – 10
Nick Guay – 6
Zane Oldenstadt – 3

The Wolves will return. (Morgan White photo)

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Greg (left) and Cole White hit the road to Spokane. (Morgan White photos)

Let the 27-hour trip begin!

Well, OK, the trip from Coupeville to Spokane probably takes a little less time than that – though sitting in a school bus, it’s likely to feel that long.

The CHS boys basketball team is bound for the 2B state tournament, where it will put its 16-1 record on the line against Lake Roosevelt (16-6) Wednesday.

That game tips off at 9 PM and is a loser-out affair.

Win Wednesday, and Coupeville is guaranteed to play at least twice more, and maybe three times, at the Spokane Arena.

This is the first trip to the big dance for the Wolf boys hoops program since 1988.

The photos above and below, which capture the town-wide celebration send-off this morning, come to us courtesy Morgan White.

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Grady Rickner and the Coupeville High School boys basketball team leave Tuesday for Spokane, and the state 2B tournament. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wave bye-bye-bye as the wheels on the bus go round and round.

The Coupeville High School boys basketball team hits the road Tuesday, on its way to Spokane for the 2B state tournament.

The Wolves leave the CHS gym at 11 AM, then roll down Main Street on their way to the highway.

That’s to allow Coupeville Elementary School students a chance to participate in the fond farewells, and the community is also invited to join the celebration.

Coupeville, 16-1 on the season after a narrow loss to top-seeded Kalama in the state opener Friday in Battle Ground, begins play Wednesday at the Spokane Arena with a 9 PM game against Lake Roosevelt.

That’s a loser-out game, with the winner moving on to the double-elimination quarterfinals.

The state tourney runs through Saturday, with the top six teams bringing home trophies.

This is the first time the CHS boys basketball team has made it to state since 1988 and continues a season of excellence.

Brad Sherman’s squad won a Northwest 2B/1B League title, the program’s first league crown since 2002.

The Wolves followed that up with a District 1/2 title — its second district title in 105 seasons, and first since 1970.

Injured senior Miles Davidson has stayed busy compiling stats.

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