Once again the Coupeville High School boys basketball team played a strong first quarter, but once again it wasn't sufficient to secure a win as the Wolves fell 72-46 to visiting Granite Falls Friday, Jan. 4.
Coupeville trailed by only three, 17-14, after the first quarter and was still in it at halftime, down 35-24.
While the Wolves have a trend of playing well in the opening period, they also have a pattern of playing poorly in the third. This time, the Tigers outscored Coupeville 23-9 to pull away.
Coupeville coach Anthony Smith isn't sure why his team struggles after halftime: "The third quarter is our nemesis. I have no idea why. Maybe it is the mindset we played well in the first half, maybe we are tired."
Poor shooting and turnovers hurt Coupeville in the second and third quarters, Smith said. The Wolves committed nine miscues in the second to give the Tigers some momentum that was carried over to the big third period.
Smith also credited Granite Falls with playing a "sticky defense" that frustrated his team.
The Tigers shot well, Smith said, adding "they aren't very big, but they work well together."
Not all was bad for the Wolves. Ben Etzell scored a career high 21 points. Smith said Etzell "played a good, solid floor game" and "went to the basket well."
Smith added that Aaron Trumbull (eight points and five rebounds) and Nick Streubel (six points and seven rebounds) also had good games.
Another positive is the progression of the Coupeville offense. After not scoring more than 38 points in the first eight games, the Wolves have surpassed 40 in the past three.
Smith said the growth in offense is because of "better shooting, better execution and better understanding."
He hopes the defense starts to show similar improvement. Smith said, for example, against Granite Falls his team would play good defense for 20 seconds and then the Tigers would "stick you with a three."
Four of those treys came from Riley Larson, who finished with 22 points.
Aaron Curtin and Caleb Valko had four points each for Coupeville, and Carson Risner had two and Morgan Payne one.
The Wolves (0-6, 0-11) journey to Shoreline to face first-place King's (6-0, 8-3) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8. Two more road games follow this week: Friday at 7 p.m. at Cedarcrest (5-1, 5-7) and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon Christian (4-7) in a nonleague game.