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Coupeville’s Makana Stone led Whitman College women’s basketball in 12 statistical categories during her junior season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Well, that’s unfortunate.

The pinheads running the NCAA D-III women’s basketball national championships left Whitman College out of the 64-team bracket, bringing a quicker-than-expected end to Makana Stone’s junior campaign.

The former Coupeville ace misses March Madness for the first time in three seasons.

As a freshman, Stone and the Blues won three games in the tourney, advancing all the way to the Elite Eight before being knocked out. Last year, Whitman fell in the first round to East Texas Baptist.

This time around, despite boasting a 20-7 record and having been ranked in the top 25 several times, the Blues were denied a ticket to the dance.

George Fox University (24-3), the regular-season and postseason tourney champs, were the only school from the Northwest Conference to make the field.

Even then, the Bruins were surprisingly denied a home game to open the tourney, and will travel to St. Louis to face Greenville University (23-4).

Whitman, which went 13-3 in league play and finished second in the nine-team conference, came within a win of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.

The Blues scorched Puget Sound in the semifinals of the league postseason tourney, but suffered through a turnover-riddled night in the championship game against George Fox.

Stone had the best season of her time in Walla Walla, earning First-Team All-Conference honors for a second-straight season and earning Player of the Week three times.

She led the Blues in 12 different statistical categories, including scoring average, hitting for 14.9 points a game.

The former Wolf star finished with 388 points, 227 rebounds, 40 assists, 31 steals, and 21 blocked shots in 26 games.

Stone hit on 162-318 from the floor (50.9%) and 63-79 (79.7%) from the free throw line.

With a season left, Coupeville’s progeny sits on the cusp of hitting a host of statistical milestones during her senior season.

She has 928 points, 440 rebounds, 123 assists, 65 steals, and 39 blocks for her career, putting her dangerously close to cracking both the 1,000-point and 500-rebound club.

Stone has hit 394-781 field goal attempts (50.4%) and 139-199 free throw tries (69.8%), and Whitman has rolled to a 68-17 record since she first pulled on a Blues uniform.

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Makana Stone collected 10 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals Saturday in a college basketball playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Now they wait to find out their fate.

Swamped by too many turnovers and too many missed shots, especially from outside the paint, the Whitman College women’s basketball squad came up short Saturday in Newberg, OR.

Falling 66-52 to host George Fox University in the championship game of the Northwest Conference postseason tourney, the Blues fell a win shy of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III national championships.

While George Fox (24-3) is definitely on its way to March Madness, Whitman (20-7) waits until the selection show Monday to find out if it gets in with at an-large bid.

The Blues have a strong body of work to support their quest for an invite, including a 19-point win over George Fox earlier this season.

Unfortunately, Whitman couldn’t repeat that victory Saturday, a game in which it got swarmed by an ultra-aggressive defense and buckled.

In a contest where 10 different Bruins scored, Whitman essentially played 2-on-5 for much of the night.

Senior Maegan Martin, who had never topped 20 in her college playing days, poured in a game-high 28, while Coupeville’s Makana Stone delivered with 10 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and a big blocked shot.

Whitman’s twin towers got little help from their teammates, however, with no one else scoring more than three points.

In between a horrifying amount of turnovers (some forced, many not), the Blues hit on just 19 of 47 shots, including a crippling 6-21 in the first half.

For the game, the #1 three point shooting team in the league went 0-9, while George Fox rattled home 7-19.

Whitman came into the title game averaging 76 points a night, but started cold and never fully recovered.

The Blues didn’t get their first bucket until two-and-a-half minutes in, when Mady Burdett knocked down a runner.

It would be the only shot the First-Team All-Conference guard, who averages 15 points a game, would hit while being hounded relentlessly by platoons of Bruins.

Down just 16-10 at the first break, Whitman suffered through a brutal second quarter, watching its deficit balloon out to 21 points shortly before halftime.

Martin swished a pair of free throws, followed by Stone taking a steal coast-to-coast for a layup to end the half, but George Fox squashed every Whitman comeback hope in the second half.

Down by 20, the Blues ended the third on a 9-0 surge, but the Bruins immediately answered to open the fourth.

It was virtually the same seven minutes later, as Whitman, behind their interior one-two punch, closed to within 10 with a hair over three minutes to play.

George Fox promptly came up court, ran the clock down, then drilled another three-ball to permanently ice the game.

While she’s hoping for a trip to the NCAA tourney, Martin, Whitman’s lone senior, played what could be her final collegiate game with a vengeance.

An Honorable Mention selection when the NWC picked its All-Conference teams last week, she has been a strong role player all four years.

Martin’s career high entering Saturday’s game was 19 points, but she carried the Blues, hitting 11-18 from the field and 6-7 from the line.

Stone dominated the boards, with her 13 rebounds coming in a game in which no other player, on either team, collected more than six.

It was the 12th double-double for the former Wolf ace this season.

As she waits for an NCAA bid, Stone sits with 388 points, 227 rebounds, 40 assists, 31 steals, and 21 blocks during her junior campaign.

She’s hit 162-318 (50.9%) from the floor and 63-79 (79.7%) from the line.

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Coupeville’s Makana Stone, here with mom Eileen, went off for 22 points and 11 rebounds Thursday in a college basketball playoff win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sweet, sweet revenge.

If you lose twice to the same team in the regular season, but bounce back to win the third meeting in the playoffs, who really cares about the first two games?

Not the Whitman College women’s basketball team, which rallied behind an inspired performance from Coupeville’s Makana Stone Thursday to derail visiting Puget Sound 69-61.

The victory, coming in the semifinals of the Northwest Conference postseason tourney, lifts the Blues to 20-6 and sends them to the tourney title game.

That game, where the winner earns an automatic berth to the NCAA D-III national championships, goes down Saturday in Newberg, OR.

Second-seeded Whitman, which avenged eight and five-point losses to #3 UPS, faces league champ George Fox (23-3) in the finale. The Bruins drilled #4 Linfield 76-49 Thursday in their semifinal game.

The title tilt will be the rubber match for the two squads, as Whitman and George Fox split their regular season bouts.

The Blues won 73-54 on the road Jan. 12, before falling 61-57 at home Feb. 8 in Walla Walla.

Thursday night’s game pitted Stone, a junior just named to her second-straight All-Conference team, against the league’s MVP, junior post player Jamie Lange.

While both played well, Coupeville’s ace came out ahead on three counts.

Stone’s game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds edged out Lange’s 18 and 11, the UPS star fouled out, and, most importantly, Whitman won.

As expected, it was a close game most of the way, just as the first two meetings between these teams played out.

Puget Sound jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, but couldn’t pull away, eventually settling for a narrow 14-11 lead at the first break.

Whitman, behind six points from Stone, carried the second quarter, using a 15-12 run to knot things at 26-26 at the half.

Whatever happened in the locker room, be it a dramatic speech, or just some quality Gatorade, the Blues came out on fire in the third quarter, busting open the game.

The host team pulled out in front by eight points heading into the fourth, then eventually ran their lead all the way to a 13-point bulge in the fourth.

UPS rallied, however, twice cutting the lead to five.

That was as close as the Loggers would get, though, as Stone went off for 10 of her 22 points in the game’s final 10 minutes.

Her offensive display included a dagger of a jumper in the late going, which took the remaining air out of the visitors.

Stone added a pair of steals and two teeth-rattling blocks to her game-busting performance, while teammates Mady Burdett and Maegan Martin added 14 and 10 points respectively.

On the season, Stone sits with 378 points, 214 rebounds, 40 assists, 28 steals, and 20 blocks.

She’s hit on 158-309 field goals and 61-77 free throws.

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Coupeville grad Makana Stone, a junior at Whitman College, has been named a First-Team All-Conference basketball pick for the second straight season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They still like her.

Coming off a season in which she was tabbed as a player of the week three times, Coupeville grad Makana Stone has been named a First-Team All-League pick for the second straight season by Northwest Conference women’s basketball coaches.

The Whitman College junior, who leads the Blues into the NWC tourney Thursday, was also honored after her sophomore season.

Stone is joined on the first team by Whitman junior guard Mady Burdett, as the Blues, who are 19-6 on the season, are one of two schools to land two players on the first unit.

Jamie Lange, a junior post player from the University of Puget Sound, was picked as league MVP.

Molly Danielson of Linfield, Emily Spencer of league champ George Fox, and Elizabeth Prewitt of UPS round out the first team.

Stone and Lange are the only players to repeat from last year’s first team, while Spencer and Prewitt were on the second team in 2017-2018.

Whitman’s lone senior, Maegan Martin, received Honorable Mention status.

In addition to Lange’s MVP award, the other big winners were Delsie Johnson of Lewis & Clark (Freshman of the Year) and Michael Meek of George Fox (Coach of the Year).

As she and her teammates head to what is hopefully a long postseason run, Stone sits with 356 points, 203 rebounds, 40 assists, 26 steals, and 18 blocks.

She’s shooting 149-290 (51.4%) from the floor and 57-73 (78.1%) from the line.

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Coupeville’s Makana Stone went off for 17 points and 11 rebounds Saturday, helping Whitman earn a win and a home playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A sizable collection of Coupeville folks showed up in Tacoma to root for their serene superstar. (Kristi Etzell photo)

Stone netted 7-8 free throw attempts in the win. (Etzell photo)

Stone reunites with former CHS classmates (l to r) Nick Etzell, McKenzie Meyer, Danny Conlisk, and Marisa Etzell. (Eileen Stone photo)

Guess who gets to host a home playoff game after all?

The last day of the regular season broke perfectly for the Whitman College women’s basketball team and its Coupeville star, the ever-rampaging Makana Stone.

With the former Wolf ace going off for 17 points and 11 rebounds in front of an enthusiastic group of hometown fans and friends, the Blues crunched host Pacific Lutheran 73-62 in Tacoma.

Meanwhile, across town, Puget Sound was stunned 61-56 by Whitworth.

That means Whitman, which finishes 13-3 in Northwest Conference play and is 19-6 overall, claims second-place in the nine-team league and will host UPS (12-4, 19-5) Feb. 21 in the first round of the NWC tourney.

Conference champ George Fox (15-1, 22-3) hosts #4 Linfield (8-8, 12-13) the same day, with the winners meeting Feb. 23 in the title game.

The tourney champs earn an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III national championships.

Wrapping up a two-game trip to the wilds of Tacoma, Whitman bounced back strongly Saturday after falling by five points Friday at UPS.

The Blues opened the game with a nice splat, thanks to Taylor Chambers connecting on a long three-ball.

After a couple of early ties, Stone went to work, hitting back-to-back buckets to break open a 9-9 stalemate and give Whitman a lead it would never relinquish.

Up 19-16 after one, the Blues stretched the lead to 37-28 by the halftime break.

PLU, which entered the day in a three-way tie for the league’s fourth, and final, playoff berth, cut the lead all the way back to a single point midway through the second half, but Stone wasn’t having it.

She pumped in seven points in the third quarter, then added another four in the fourth.

Stone rose to the occasion down the stretch, getting key points in the final three minutes, when Whitman back-handed its upstart hosts back into reality.

Out-leaping two defenders, Stone snagged an offensive rebound and promptly crashed hard to the hoop, earning two well-deserved free throw attempts with 2:42 left in the game.

Netting both (she hit 7-8 from the charity stripe on the night), the Whitman junior staked her squad to a 62-55 lead.

A minute later she was right back at it, gunning down the floor and pulling in an outlet pass for a running layup to push the margin out to double digits.

With Whitman senior Maegan Martin following up with back-to-back breakaway layups of her own, the Blues shoved the lead out to 14 before PLU ended its season with a buzzer-beating three-ball.

The Blues big three were the key to the game, as usual.

Stone added a crucial steal to go with her 17 and 11 double-double, while Mady Burdett singed the nets for 16 points, and Martin added 14 points and 12 boards of her own.

Kaelan Shamseldin, who nailed a late three-ball that punched a hole through the hearts of PLU fans, had 11 points as Whitman put four players into double-digits scoring.

Emma Janousek paced PLU with a team-high 15.

Heading into the playoffs, Stone has set personal-bests in virtually every statistical category, and now has 356 points, 203 rebounds, 40 assists, 26 steals and 18 blocks on the season.

She’s shooting 149-290 (51.4%) from the floor and 57-73 (78.1%) from the line.

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