Sports

Boys basketball: Coupeville shocks Meridian in sub-district

Upset.

The Coupeville High School boys basketball team shocked Meridian 59-47 in sub-district action Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Laurel.

The Wolves (9-12) now face another loser-out, play-in game at Port Townsend (8-13) at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10. The winner advances to the first round of tri-district Saturday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at the home of the No. 2 seed from District 2.

Coupeville's win over Meridian (10-11) ended the Trojans' season.

The confident Trojans came into the game knowing they thumped Coupeville 76-23 in the season opener Dec. 4, and they did it with their leading scorer, Zach Slesk, out with an injury.

Coupeville, however, was also missing some bodies, and when the two teams met last night, coach Randy King said, "We brought a little different team tonight."

That team included starters Hunter Hammer, Tyler King and Dalton Engle who missed the first matchup. The team was also different in that it was riding the confidence of winning five of its last six games.

Meridian's pressing, trapping defense flustered the inexperienced Wolves Dec. 4, but it had little affect on the veteran club Randy King put on the floor Wednesday.

The Wolves, playing with poise, calmly and deftly handled every defense the Trojans used.

Coupeville also controlled the tempo of the game, slowing down the Trojans vaunted fast-break offense.

Meridian zoned most of the night, and coach King said, "Ty (King) was able to soften them up and we were able to get the ball into our bigs."

Tyler King hit three threes on the way to 15 points and five assists. Hammer controlled the paint with 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Ben Hayes hit a variety of short jumpers for 16 points. Ian Smith added nine points, mostly on slashes to the hoop.

Engle added the final three points and skillfully handled the Meridian press and half-court zone.

Showing some jitters early, Coupeville committed four turnovers in the first few minutes and fell behind 6-1.

The Wolves steadied themselves and never wavered again.

Four points each from Hammer and Hayes and a three-ball by Tyler King helped Coupeville even the score at the end of first quarter, 12-12.

Meridian moved out in front 18-14 with 6:17 left in the half, then Coupeville took over. By halftime, the Wolves led 32-26.

King hit a three to open the second half, then Coupeville didn't score again until Hammer's put back with 2:10 left in the quarter. Meridian trimmed the lead to 37-36, but the Wolves weathered the Trojan run and led 41-38 going into the fourth period.

Coupeville scored the first three buckets of the fourth quarter, all off offensive rebounds. For the game, the Wolves pulled down 17 offensive rebounds and scored 18 second-chance points.

Coupeville also switched from a man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone at the end of the third quarter, and the Trojans began settling for three-point shots. The long-range offense failed.

The closest Meridian got from there was 49-44 with 1:47 left.

Two court-length passes from Engle to King over the Trojan press led to a pair of hoops and the Wolves hit six of seven free throws to pull away.

An ecstatic coach King said, "This is the way I thought we could play."

He added, "That's our first playoff win in quite a while, and I don't know the last time we beat a team from Whatcom County."

In other sub-district games, Nooksack Valley defeated King's 50-46 in the game to determine the top two seeds from District 1 going into tri-district, and Lynden Christian topped Friday Harbor 61-47 in a loser-out game for the No. 3 seed.

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