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Kylie Van Velkinburgh and the Coupeville JV captured a win Friday at Sultan. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a wild and woolly kind of night.

Missing players, then taking the court after the varsity, though before the tail pipe on their bus got busted, the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad just went about their business Friday in Sultan.

Competing in a foul-heavy affair CHS coach Amy King called a “fast-paced, rugby type of game,” the Wolves eventually headed home with a 33-22 win to their credit.

Well, after their battered bus finally made it out of the parking lot later than expected.

The victory lifts the Wolf young guns to 3-1 in North Sound Conference play, 6-5 overall.

It also ties them with the JV boys for the most wins this season by a CHS squad.

Missing the injured Kylie Chernikoff and Abby Mulholland, the Wolves also found themselves facing a Turk who didn’t play the first time these schools met.

“They put in a player who wasn’t on the court our first time around – a six-foot girl who hung out around the free throw line,” King said. “Ja’Kenya (Hoskins) and Kylie (Van Velkinburgh) did a great job moving up on her, but she still had her moments with shooting, feeding her teammates and then hitting free throws when we fouled her.”

Trailing 10-9 after one quarter of action, the Wolves started pulling away, bit by bit, thanks in large part to their defense.

“The whole team worked hard. We pressed, we got steals – nobody let down,” King said. “Ja’Kenya and Mollie (Bailey) worked to defend down low on our zone, Anya (Leavell) and Audrianna (Shaw) up top.

Alana (Mihill) and Lily (Leedy) did a nice job up top on offense and Morgan (Stevens) came down with some key rebounds.”

Bailey netted a huge three-ball to spark Coupeville, and the Wolves turned a 15-12 lead at the half into 22-14 heading into the fourth.

Down the stretch, CHS put the ball into the hands of freshman Izzy Wells, and she carried her team home, banging home nine of her team-high 11 points in the final frame.

“The game was definitely closer than the first time against them,” King said. “Both teams shot a lot of free throws because it was that kind of a battle.

“Very proud that we came out on top.”

The two teams combined to put up 46 free throws, including 19 during a fourth quarter which went on for some time.

Hoskins banked in eight points and snatched seven rebounds (“the other coach says she just loves watching her rebound”), while Wells had five boards, five steals and two blocks to go with her 11 points.

Shaw (6), Leavell (4), Bailey (3), and Van Velkinburgh (1) also scored, and Kiara Contreras chipped in with two rebounds and three steals.

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Hawthorne Wolfe is just the fifth CHS boy in 102 years to top 100 varsity points as a freshman. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Second half, not the same as the first.

Finding its shooting touch after halftime Friday, the Sultan High School varsity boys basketball squad turned a close game into a blowout, romping past visiting Coupeville 67-28.

The killer was a 27-3 Turk run in the third quarter, which turned a seven-point lead into a 31-point advantage.

The loss drops the Wolves to 1-3 in North Sound Conference action, 2-9 overall.

Coupeville still has a game-and-a-half lead on Granite Falls (0-5) for the fifth and final playoff spot from the six-team league.

King’s (5-0), which routed Granite 84-25 Friday, is flying high, while Sultan (3-1) sits in second, a game up on Cedar Park Christian (2-2) and South Whidbey (2-2).

CPC shocked Coupeville’s Island neighbors Friday, winning a 55-53 thriller.

Facing Sultan for the second time this season, the Wolves hung tough for a half.

Down 13-6 at the first break, CHS played the Turks even through a 10-10 second quarter.

Then, something went really, truly wrong for the Wolves after the halftime break.

While Gavin Knoblich netted a three-ball, that was all the offense Coupeville could muster in the third.

Sultan answered with 11 buckets, three of them from behind the three-point line, and tossed a pair of free throws onto the bonfire, effectively ending the game.

The fourth quarter, while not much better for the Wolves, did feature a couple of milestones.

Freshman Xavier Murdy and sophomore Daniel Olson made their varsity debuts, while Hawthorne Wolfe joined an elite group.

The sweet-shooting guard, who leads Coupeville in scoring, went coast to coast for a layup to become only the fifth boy in 102 seasons of Wolf basketball to score 100 varsity points during his freshman season.

With six regular season games left, then a possible postseason run, Wolfe, who has 103 points, has a legitimate shot to eclipse the four frosh boys who came before him.

Mike Bagby tops that list, with 137 points in the 2002-2003 season, with Mike Criscuola (115), Taylor Ebersole (114), and Arik Garthwaite (109) also on the list.

A fourth Wolf achieved a personal milestone Friday, as junior guard Jean Lund-Olsen recorded his first varsity points, netting a first-half three-ball.

Sean Toomey-Stout paced Coupeville with seven points, while Mason Grove netted a pair of treys en route to six. Wolfe (5), Knoblich (5), Lund-Olsen (3) and Jacobi Pilgrim (2) also scored.

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Grady Rickner torched the nets for 12 points Friday as Coupeville’s JV smacked Sultan. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This time, the Turks didn’t escape.

The first meeting this season between the Coupeville and Sultan JV boys basketball teams came down to the wire, and the wrong team pulled out a narrow win.

Friday night, the Wolves had a different lineup than the first time around, and the addition of Xavier Murdy was huge.

With the freshman pouring in 23 points, including a pair of game-busting three-balls in the fourth quarter, Coupeville got the big payback, punishing Sultan to the tune of 60-50.

The road win lifts the Wolf young guns to 2-2 in North Sound Conference play, 6-5 overall.

It also ties them with the JV girls for the most wins by any of the five CHS hoops squads this season.

When Coupeville and Sultan tangled back in Dec., Murdy was in street clothes.

This time around, he was repping a Coupeville uniform and on fire from behind the arc.

A pair of three-balls fueled a 10-point first quarter for Murdy, and he finished with five treys on the evening.

Clinging to a 15-14 lead after eight minutes of action, the Wolves stretched the lead to 30-26 at the half, then saw it cut back to 42-40 heading into the fourth.

Coupeville never flinched, however, using an 18-10 run to send coach Chris Smith back to the team bus with a grin on his face.

Murdy and Daniel Olson both tossed in six points in the final frame, while Grady Rickner and Cody Roberts chipped in with three apiece.

The Wolves finished the game with eight three-balls, with Logan Martin, Rickner and Roberts each banking home one to go with Murdy’s long-range assault on the net.

Winning the battle from behind the arc helped blunt Sultan’s huge advantage at the free throw line.

Well that, and the fact the Turks were pretty dang awful when given the ball at the charity stripe.

Sultan was constantly rewarded by the refs, but clanked one shot after another, finishing 14-26 on freebies, while Coupeville hit on 8-14.

Rickner finished with 12 points to provide key backup to Murdy’s season-high 23, with Olson rattling the rim for eight.

Sage Downes (6), Roberts (5), Martin (5) and Tucker Hall (1) rounded out the offensive attack.

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Down two starters Friday, Coupeville pulled out a win at Sultan thanks to big performances from players such as freshmen Ja’Kenya Hoskins (left) and Izzy Wells. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When things were at their bleakest, they made their own sunshine.

It would have been so easy to lose Friday, but the Coupeville High School varsity girls basketball team flat-out refused.

Rallying against daunting odds, the Wolves pulled out the kind of win which can define a season, knocking off host Sultan 29-27 after Scout Smith drained a pair of pressure-packed free throws with 10 ticks left on the clock.

As a final Turks shot hit the back of the rim and bounced away, a weary but triumphant CHS squad rejoiced in the moment. Assessing the future will come later.

For the moment, the Wolves snap a three-game losing skid, while rising to 3-2 in North Sound Conference play, 5-7 overall.

They are in third-place, a game back of Cedar Park Christian (4-1), two off of King’s (5-0).

Granite Falls (2-3), Sultan (1-4) and South Whidbey (0-5) are in Coupeville’s rear-view mirror.

After four straight games on the road, CHS gets to play at home for the first time in a month, kicking off a four-game home-stand Jan. 15 with a game against Granite Falls.

As they head back to Whidbey, there is one potentially huge dark cloud hanging over the Wolves, however.

That’s the status of their leading scorer and rebounder, senior captain Lindsey Roberts.

The four-year varsity veteran, #23 all-time on the girls basketball career scoring chart, left Friday’s game early after suffering a dislocated and broken left ring finger.

The Wolves were already down another starter before they left Whidbey, with junior post player Hannah Davidson on crutches after spraining her ankle in practice earlier in the week.

Minus the duo, Coupeville’s remaining players stepped up big-time.

Unable to score for almost the entire first quarter, trailing by eight late in the third, the Wolves rallied to take their first lead of the night midway through the fourth quarter.

The 23-21 advantage came courtesy two free throws from Scout Smith, capping a 10-0 Wolf surge on which CHS scored mainly from the charity stripe.

Chelsea Prescott rippled the nets for four straight free throws to end the third, with the latter two set up by a huge offensive rebound from freshman Ja’Kenya Hoskins.

Fellow frosh Izzy Wells opened the fourth with her own pair of freebies, then senior captain Ema Smith drained a jumper before Scout Smith’s magic.

That set up a wild final couple of minutes, as the teams went through four ties down the stretch, though Coupeville never surrendered the lead after gaining it.

With Roberts and her 408 career points missing, Ema Smith played out of her mind, scoring a game-high 14, including six of those points with the game on the line.

Following up her early fourth-quarter jumper, she took control of the paint, scoring twice on power moves set up by nice feeds from her teammates.

First Prescott fired a laser shot through a maze of defenders, dropping the ball right on Ema’s waiting fingertips for a shot that went up, bounced around the rim 12 times, then softly flopped through the net.

Next time down the court it was Avalon Renninger running the point with precision, flicking a set-up pass to the hottest Wolf on the floor, who promptly banked the ball right back through the hoop.

Ema Smith’s final basket staked the Wolves to a 27-25 lead with a hair over a minute to play, and then things got a bit out of control.

As in neither team could hold on to the ball, exchanging turnovers on a series of wild passes which skipped every which way, before heading out of bounds and into the stands, which sit really close to the floor in Sultan.

The Turks finally broke through with 17 second to go, scoring their first field goal in a 10-minute span, knocking down a running layup to knot the game and give their fans a brief glimmer of hope.

Except Scout Smith is the Crusher of Spirits, and she fulfilled her role of becoming a full-fledged hardwood serial killer, gutting an entire town with two jabs.

Knocked to the floor and fouled by a hyped-up Turk, Scooter stared down an entire gym, sliding both of her free throws through the net, barely rippling the twine while never betraying a single emotion.

Something died, hard, in Sultan at that moment, both in their girls basketball team and the town itself.

And Scout Smith liked it.

As did her coach.

Scout has struggled all season with free throws,” David King said. “But tonight, CLUTCH!”

Sultan hurried down court and did get off a shot right before the buzzer, but, with the Wolf defense up in the shooter’s face, the desperation heave never had a chance.

The win capped a game that could have gone really badly in the early going.

Having lost Roberts, the Wolves failed to score until the final seconds of the first quarter. Thanks to a gritty defense, the deficit was just 5-0 when Ema Smith pulled in a pass from Scout Smith and buried a three-ball from the top of the arc.

Another trey from the Wolf senior and a handful of free throws kept Coupeville close, but it still trailed 14-10 at the half and 21-13 late in the third.

Coupeville had just one regular field goal through three quarters – a jumper from Renninger set up by a nice pass from Nicole Laxton – using a mix of free throws and three-balls to stay close.

However they scored, the Wolves never lost heart, something huge in King’s book.

“I told the players that they rallied without Hannah and Lindsey and got a great win. Very, very proud of the team!,” he said. “Late in the game in a timeout, I told the five players, isn’t this fun!”

Ema played well, and she and Scout led us,” King added. “Izzy and Ja’Kenya played well and stepped up. One offensive and one defensive.”

Prescott (6), Scout Smith (5), Renninger (2) and Wells (2) combined for 15 points, while Ema Smith’s 14 was a season-high.

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Morgan Stevens tossed in four points and played inspired defense Tuesday as the Coupeville JV girls basketball team squashed Sultan. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

First, the great news. Then, the good news.

The top buzz coming out of the world of Coupeville High School JV girls basketball concerns Kylie Chernikoff, who is off her crutches and due back at practice.

One of the hardest-working Wolves in the program, the sophomore has been recovering after hurting her ankle, and her return should deliver a nice jolt to her team’s defense and intangibles.

And, the news gets better, as the team she will be rejoining just shredded visiting Sultan 34-18 Tuesday, capturing its fourth-straight win.

Now 2-0 in North Sound Conference action, 4-3 overall, Amy King’s squad, which has shuffled players all season, is just starting to find its groove.

Imagine if the roster ever solidifies for two games in a row.

No matter which lineup King has to throw at opposing teams, she has multiple weapons at her disposal, as the Turks found out to their great detriment.

Leading from start to finish Tuesday, the Wolves needed just one play to effectively break the collective backs of the Turks.

It came from fab frosh Audrianna Shaw, who rolled around a defender and buried a running hook shot off the glass in the game’s opening moments.

If Sultan thought it still had at least a chance, that quickly vanished, as well.

Anya Leavell, snatching one of her three steals, beat the crowd to the basket, flying coast to coast, while switching hands at the last second. That allowed her to evade a trailing defender and slap the ball home with ease.

From there, it was pretty much all-Coupeville, all-the-time, whether Abby Mulholland was droppin’ jumpers, with Ja’Kenya Hoskins and Leavell feeding her with great set-up passes, or Morgan Stevens suddenly erupting.

The Wolf freshman, a solid role player who continues to show growth in her first year on the hardwood, had a second-quarter run where she brought her JV teammates, and their varsity counterparts, to their feet.

First, Stevens connected on a jumper, set up by a thread-the-needle pass from Kiara Contreras, then she went big-time, backing down her defender and lofting up a ball that banked off the glass and hit pay-dirt.

Inspired by her play on the offensive end of the floor, Stevens ramped up her game on the defensive end, as well, attacking the Sultan ball-handler and barking out “ball, ball, ball!!” like a new version of Chernikoff.

Up 16-7 at the half, with four different players having scored four points apiece, Coupeville continued to share the ball after the break.

Contreras, in particular, played with real precision, wheeling and dealing with flair while running the point for the Wolves.

Kiara had great selfless passing,” King said. “The highlight of the first half to me was her pass out to Morgan.

“It’s so nice to see these girls finding their teammates.”

Along with her passing, Contreras also showed off a deadly jumper, netting a third-quarter bucket with a ball which barely rippled the net as it dropped through.

Keeping alive the selfless theme of the night, that bucket came off a rebound and kick-out from Hoskins, who made the pass while weighed down by a Turk draped across her back.

Coupeville spread out its scoring, with six of 10 active players landing in the book.

Shaw and Leavell each rattled the rim for 10 points, while Mulholland (6), Stevens (4), Izzy Wells (2), and Contreras (2) also scored.

Mulholland yanked down eight rebounds, Shaw pilfered four steals, and the trio of Kylie Van Velkinburgh, Alana Mihill and Mollie Bailey all contributed defensive scrappiness.

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