Girls basketball: Wolves lose heartbreaker

La Conner’s Priscilla Ponce-Venegas hit two free throws with no time on the clock to hand the host Coupeville girls basketball team a heartbreaking 48-47 loss Tuesday, Dec. 28.

Coupeville’s record dipped to 1-7 with the nonleague loss; La Conner is 4-5. The Wolves jump back into Cascade Conference action Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 5:15 p.m. when island rival South Whidbey comes to town.

Coupeville saw a five-point lead with 1:21 left against the Braves disappear as it hit just one of six free throws (including missing the front end of two one-and-ones) and turned the ball over twice down the stretch.

The last missed foul shot came with 5.6 seconds left and the Wolves clinging to a 47-46 lead. La Conner rebounded and Ponce-Venegas weaved her way up the court and heaved a 30-foot desperation shot at the buzzer. The shot had little chance of falling, but she was bumped on the shot and sent to the free throw line with three chances to secure the game with 0:00 left. She calmly dropped in the first two for the win before air-balling the meaningless third try.

The Braves sprinted to a 10-4 lead, then the Wolves worked their way back in the game. Megan Metlow hit a free throw with 6:10 left in the second quarter and Coupeville regained the lead 13-12, a lead that would reach eight points before the Braves rallied in the fourth quarter.

Bessie Walstad's hoop off an assist from Taya Boonstra gave Coupeville a 38-31 lead with 6:59 left in the game. The Braves responded with a three-point hoop, a three-point play and a fast break bucket, and, suddenly, La Conner led 39-38 with 5:06 left.

Coupeville kept its composure and moved back in front 46-41 with the help of two Walstad hoops, the second coming with just 1:21 remaining on the clock.

The Braves picked up one point after a Coupeville turnover, then two more after a Coupeville free-throw miss. That made it 46-44 with 16 seconds left.

La Conner fouled Katie Smith and she hit the front end of a one-and-one. Ponce-Venegas was fouled with 8.2 seconds left and sank two free throws to set the score at 47-46 and set the stage for her dramatic finish.

Coupeville coach Jackie Bykonen was disappointed in the result, but said, "It was one of the best games we have played. I thought we played hard."

She added that her team needs to practice end-game situations to understand how to handle the finish of close games.

The Wolves also hurt themselves at the line, sinking just six of 19 free throws.

Walstad led a balanced scoring attack with 10 points. Smith added nine, Cassidi Rosenkrance eight, Kendra O'Keefe seven, Metlow seven, Boonstra four and Jai'Lysa Hoskins two.

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