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Early morning gym rats (l to r) Alana Mihill, Makana Stone, Ema Smith and Ja’Kenya Hoskins. (Eileen Stone photo)

The early bird gets the basket.

Former Coupeville hoops legend Makana Stone, just back from an all-star tour through Brazil and soon to head back to Whitman College for her junior season, is back on The Rock and still working hard.

She was in the CHS gym at the crack of dawn (6 AM or so) Saturday, and invited current Wolves to join her.

Three hoops stars, senior Ema Smith, and incoming freshmen Ja’Kenya Hoskins and Alana Mihill, accepted the challenge and were ruthless with their snooze buttons.

With Stone set for one more early morning workout Sunday at her alma mater, it presents an ideal opportunity for a Wolf legend to give back, and for current players to emulate the player they would all like to grow up to be.

“This is what it takes to improve your game,” said CHS coach Amy King. “Way to go, and a huge thanks to Makana for allowing them to join her.”

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone (left), on tour with an all-star basketball team in Brazil, poses with a local player. (Photos courtesy Stone)

Team USA, ready to rumble on foreign soil.

Visiting the world-famous, 125-foot high, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio.

Stone, who will be a junior at Whitman College, reps her Team USA colors.

Basketball has been very, very good to Makana Stone.

The hoops life has taken the Coupeville grad around the world, with a big highlight being a trip to Brazil that’s just wrapping up.

Stone, a junior at Whitman College, was picked to be part of a 10-player USA D-III women’s basketball team.

She and her teammates played four games in Brazil, facing off with squads from Jundiai, Santa Andre, Queimados and Fluminese.

The second of those four rivals was a pro team.

For Stone, who was an All-League First-Team pick during her sophomore season at Whitman, the trip has been everything she expected, and more.

“It has been a once in a lifetime experience!,” she said. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to play with some of the USA and Brazil’s best players.

“The talent out here is unreal,” Stone added. “I’m thankful to have been able to have the chance to play with and against it.”

While on the trip, the Team USA players (a men’s squad joined Stone and Co. on the road) got to experience the culture and food of Brazil.

They also had an opportunity to work with the next generation of hoops stars, something Stone loved.

“One of my favorite parts of this trip was being able to hold a clinic for Brazilian kids in Rio,” she said.

The act of putting the ball in the hoop bridged any gaps between people from different countries.

“There was a bit of a language barrier and they laughed at my attempts to use Portuguese,” Stone said with a chuckle.

“But, there’s really nothing like making new friends through a little basketball on the streets of Rio!”

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone is off to Brazil as part of an all-star basketball team. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Basketball has carried Makana Stone from Cow Town to Brazil.

The Coupeville High School grad, who has spent the past two seasons ripping up the floor at Whitman College, has been tabbed to join the USA D-III Women’s Basketball Team.

As a member of the 10-player squad, Stone is jetting off to Brazil and will be overseas July 16-25, playing four games while there.

The trip, set up by USA Sports Tours and Events, has American women and men’s teams playing games against Jundiai, Santa Andre, Queimados and Fluminese.

The Santa Andre women’s squad is a pro team.

When they’re not playing and practicing, the USA hoops teams will have a chance to experience everything Brazil has to offer.

The players will visit schools and sports clubs, and will have a chance to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain, two of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.

Stone, who is entering her junior year at Whitman, is the lone player on the tour to hail from Washington state.

The women’s team includes athletes from nine states and a variety of colleges, and will be led by coaches from Luther College in Iowa.

Stone is coming off a sophomore season in which she torched the nets for 12.3 points a game, snatched 7.2 boards a night and was named a First-Team All-Conference pick by the Northwest Conference.

Whitman has advanced to the NCAA tourney in both of her seasons, piling up a 48-10 record in her time in Walla Walla.

While growing up in Coupeville, playing soccer and basketball and running track, Stone put together one of the best individual prep sports careers the town has seen.

A two-time CHS Female Athlete of the Year (who should have been at least a three-timer and I will never stop arguing she was robbed as a freshman), she finished as the #3 scorer in Wolf girls basketball history.

Stone also has the most state meet medals of any Wolf female track competitor, and kicked off her high school career by winning her first 28 races – the best streak in the history of CHS.

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   Makana Stone capped her sophomore season at Whitman Friday, tossing in six points and grabbing seven rebounds in a playoff loss. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The dream died at the free throw line.

East Texas Baptist University scored the game’s final seven points on charity shots Friday, turning a one-point deficit into a 65-59 win over Whitman College.

The loss, coming in a first round game at the NCAA D-III women’s national championship tourney in Richardson, Texas, ended the season for the Blues and their stellar sophomore, Makana Stone.

The Coupeville grad went for six points, seven boards and two assists, including a gorgeous pass to set up Emily Rommel for a key bucket in the final two minutes.

Snagging a pass deep in the paint, Stone shoveled the ball under the defense to her senior running mate, who knocked down a bank shot to knot the game at 58-58.

When senior Casey Poe drained a free throw at the 1:22 mark, Whitman took its final lead, but couldn’t hold on.

Unable to net a field goal in the final minute and 45 seconds, and unable to score at all after Poe’s free throw, the Blues had to foul, and East Texas made them pay.

Erin Meeks, who entered the night shooting an ice-cold 44% from the free throw line, netted four straight in the final minute, giving her a season-best 7-8 performance at the stripe.

Add two freebies each for Madison McCoy and Kim Childress, and the Tigers (23-6) advanced to play in the regional final Saturday night.

Whitman, which made a run to the Elite Eight last season, closed at 22-5.

After ripping off 21 straight wins at one point this season, the Blues struggled down the stretch, losing four of their final five games.

Poe, the Northwest Conference player of the year, had a very off night Friday, with her only point being her late-game free throw.

She averaged 17 a night during the season.

Making up for things a bit was sophomore Mady Burdett, who knocked down four balls from behind the three-point arc in the first quarter alone.

She finished with eight treys, helping Whitman hold a 9-0 advantage in that shooting category, and scored a college career-high 24 points.

While the Blues were hot from the outside, East Texas went inside time and again, and ended with a staggering advantage at the free throw line.

The Tigers netted 23-26 at the stripe, while Whitman was 6-10.

The game was a prime slice of March Madness, as the teams exchanged leads for much of the night.

Up 19-17 after one quarter (Stone fed Maegan Martin for the three-points-the-hard-way play which gave Whitman the lead), the Blues stretched it to 33-27 at halftime.

East Texas, with the support of the local crowd, surged 19-13 in the third quarter to knot the game at 46-46 headed into the final quarter.

Twice the Tigers started to threaten to pull away and twice Burdett dropped treys to get Whitman back in things, before she and her teammates went cold at the end.

The game closed a very strong season for Coupeville’s finest, as Stone finished with 332 points, 194 rebounds, 52 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

She shot a very-strong 51.2% from the floor (140-273) and 76.5% from the line (52-68).

A First-Team All-Conference pick this year, she was Whitman’s #1 rebounder and #2 scorer.

Whitman, which loses captains Poe, Rommel and Sierra McGarity to graduation, has gone 48-10 during Stone’s first two seasons.

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   Makana Stone went for nine points and 10 rebounds Thursday, but Whitman fell in a playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Agony.

It’s what the Whitman College women’s basketball squad endured for much of Thursday, and what the Blues now face as they wait for a probable call from the NCAA.

Despite rallying in the final two minutes of its Northwest Conference Tournament semifinal game to finally take the lead, Whitman could only watch in horror as visiting Willamette responded by tossing in a game-winning three-ball in the final seconds.

The 55-52 loss, the third defeat in four games for the once high-flying Blues, drops them to 22-4.

Long gone is its 21-game win streak, and now Whitman has to wait until Monday to find out if it lands an at-large berth in the NCAA D-III women’s national tourney.

The Blues, who made it to the Elite Eight last season, are a strong contender, but would have preferred getting an automatic bid by winning the league’s postseason title.

Instead, that golden ticket awaits either Willamette (17-9) or George Fox (23-3), who play Saturday in the title game.

Thursday’s loss, the second straight to the Bearcats, was similar to the Blues defeat at the hands of Willamette six days ago.

In short, ice-cold shooting killed Whitman.

The Blues opened 7-30 from the floor in the first half, fell behind by 10 points, and never really heated up.

In the end, Whitman finished 21-63 from the floor, including just 2-11 from behind the three-point arc.

Willamette was 8-16 on three-balls, the difference in a game which came down to the final seconds.

Trailing for much of the game, Whitman stormed back, seemingly pulling a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Down 50-44 with 1:53 to play, the Blues used aggressive defense, then turned Willamette’s turnovers into an 8-0 run in the matter of just 37 seconds.

The Bearcats didn’t blink, however, holding Whitman scoreless over the final 76 seconds.

A Drew Farmer jumper — her only points of the night — tied the game at 52, before Ashley Evans buried the game-deciding three-ball with 20 ticks on the clock.

Whitman couldn’t get the equalizer, then committed a violation while trying to in-bound the ball for a final shot with 2.8 seconds to play.

The loss obscured another solid performance for Coupeville grad Makana Stone, who went for nine points, 10 rebounds and two assists.

Casey Poe paced the Blues with 16, while Taylor Chambers added 15. Willamette was led by Kylie Towry, who knocked down a game-high 21.

For the season, Stone, a sophomore, has 326 points, 187 rebounds, 50 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

She’s shooting 52% from the floor (138-264) and 77% from the free-throw line (50-65).

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