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Timothy Nitta hit big buckets Wednesday as Coupeville went toe-to-toe with Sultan. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The seats don’t get any softer the longer you hang out in the Coupeville Middle School gym.

Bur rock-hard bleachers or not, the games did get closer with each passing hour Wednesday.

And while the Wolves weren’t able to pull out any wins against visiting Sultan, losing two of three by a single play, they did provide local fans with a lot to feel good about.

How the day played out:

 

Level 1:

Sultan’s top team is the best middle school hoops squad I’ve witnessed in person, and yes, that includes any number of King’s teams from years past.

The Turks have played together as a group over the past several years, both in and out of school, and it’s paying dividends.

There are no weak links, every Turk on the floor has a high basketball IQ, they are proficient and deadly, and they will kill you in any of 1,000 different ways.

That being said, Coupeville fought back hard, and used a second-half run against the Sultan bench to keep the final score halfway reasonable at 44-22.

The loss drops the Wolves to 2-6, with a pair of home games left on the schedule.

Langley travels to Coupeville Dec. 16, then Granite Falls pop in for the season finale Dec. 19.

Wednesday’s game was essentially over after one play, as Sultan came thundering down and hit a silky-smooth pull-up jumper from the right side.

Attacking ferociously on defense, the Turks blitzed the Wolf ball-handlers into submission, converting turnovers into quick buckets and blowing out to a 13-0 lead seemingly before the official scorer could get her pencils unpacked.

Cole White finally stopped the bleeding, hitting his own pull-up jumper, but Sultan stretched the lead out to 19-2 at the first break and 39-8 by the half.

CMS sharpshooter Logan Downes tickled the twines three times in the second frame, hitting buckets on a variety of moves, but Sultan had an answer for everything.

Drop back on defense, and the Turks launched three-balls with abandon, hitting six of them in the first half, including one which dropped through the bottom of the net right at the buzzer.

Come up to meet Sultan, and it used super-sharp passing to zip the ball around, before depositing the ball right onto the fingertips of a player in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

It was sort of demoralizing, but also sort of inspiring, in a twisted way – proof rural public schools can build a powerhouse program just the same as big-city private ones can.

Sultan’s current high school program isn’t tearing up the North Sound Conference, but just hold on a year or two. Things are about to get interesting.

After one more looooooooong three-ball stretched Sultan’s lead out to 44-8 early in the third quarter, Coupeville buckled down and closed the game with conviction.

With the Turks starters having departed, the Wolves actually scored the game’s final 14 points, getting 11 from Downes, a runner from Ryan Blouin, and, finally, a sweetly-swished free throw from Nick Guay.

Downes finished the game with 17 points, just off of his season average of 18 a night, while Blouin (2), White (2), and Guay (1) also scored.

Zane Oldenstadt and William Davidson worked hard on the boards for the Wolves, while fan favorite Landon Roberts merrily crashed through anyone who got in his way, fighting for loose balls until the final buzzer.

 

Level 2:

We was robbed.

A fourth-quarter comeback fell just short, as Coupeville lost 24-23 in a game which ended with Wolf gunner Timothy Nitta being severely hammered right in front of the ref on the final contested shot.

Sadly, the man in stripes swallowed his whistle, and instead of Nitta shooting free throws, CMS headed back to the locker room having taken a rare loss.

The most-successful Wolf squad sits at 5-2-1 on the season.

The game was extremely close through the first two quarters, knotted at 6-6 after one, then 15-13 in favor of Sultan at the half, before taking wild mood swings down the stretch.

Nitta banked home a three-ball to open the third quarter, but then he and his teammates went ice cold the remainder of the frame, allowing Sultan to build a 22-16 lead heading into the game’s final seven minutes.

At which point the switch got flipped, as the Turks started clanking shots in the fourth, and the Wolves mounted a comeback.

Hunter Bronec slipped away from his man under the basket and threw down a bucket to open the final quarter, then Nathan Ginnings, wandering out in the parking lot, sank a gorgeous three-ball from the corner.

Clamping down on defense, Coupeville forced numerous turnovers, converting one into what seemed like a game-busting basket.

Getting out fast ahead of the crowd, Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim hauled in a long pass from Bronec, cut back inside and pounded home a layup while multiple Turks thumped him around the shoulders.

Up 23-22, CMS held on for a minute, but needed to make it a full two minutes.

Sultan slipped in a runner lofted in the paint to reclaim the lead, then things got dicy.

With the ball in the hands of the Turks and the clock running under 10 seconds, Coupeville needed to foul.

Instead, Mikey Robinett made a sensational play, getting his hands on the rock and forcing a jump ball, which returned the ball to the Wolves for one final play.

And it could have been something special, as Nitta, under heavy pressure, pulled in the inbounds pass and got off a shot.

As he let the ball go, at least two Turks made solid contact with his arms, something everyone in the gym except the ref standing a foot away seemed to see.

While the non-call astonished Wolf coaches, they will be able to look back on a solid team effort, one in which seven of eight players scored.

Nitta finished with seven points, while Johnny Porter (4), Hunter Bronec (4), Ginnings (3), Jack Porter (2), Simpson-Pilgrim (2), and Hurlee Bronec (1) also scored.

The only Wolf not to notch a point was Robinett, who merely made the defensive play of the game, more than earning his keep.

 

Level 3:

It was there, then it was gone.

Led by a strong all-around effort from Harlan Mouw, the Wolves carried a lead into the fourth quarter, before falling 23-21.

The razor-thin loss drops CMS to 0-6 on the season.

Coupeville played most of the game like a team very, very interested in getting its first win of the season.

In the opening quarter, JP Edoukou shone brightly, scoring off of an offensive rebound, then flat-out killing a hapless Turk on a later play.

Setting a nasty, beautiful screen, the Wolf big man stood tall and never moved a millimeter, while the Sultan player unlucky enough to come face-to-chest with Edoukou flew backwards several feet.

Landing flat on his back, the Turk stayed down, muttering about how they needed to stop letting semi trucks drive through the gym.

With Edoukou and Mouw playing forcefully in the paint, the Wolves stayed close through the first half, trailing just 14-11, then shot out to a 19-16 lead by the end of the third quarter.

Mouw was a one-man wrecking crew coming out of the locker room, dropping six of his season-high 12 points in the third frame, but it was Ginnings who had the prettiest bucket.

Snagging an offensive rebound, the Wolf guard flipped the ball back up and in while crashing backwards, landing prone on his rear as the ball trickled through the net.

Sultan got its mojo back in the final quarter, using a three-ball and consecutive put-backs to retake the lead, before Mouw scored one final bucket to keep things close.

With just a small handful of fouls to its credit, Coupeville couldn’t get the ball back by sending Sultan to the free throw line, however, and the Turks ran out the clock.

Edoukou and Ginnings both finished with four points, backing up Mouw and his 12, while Justin Jansen added a free throw to round out the scoring.

Carson Fields, Jordan Bradford, Jesus Madrigal, Alex Clark, and Chris Villarreal also saw floor time for Coupeville.

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