Wolves' hoops recall one magic moment

There are moments in each of our lives which will never be forgotten.

Small shards of time when we seemingly step outside our normal limitations and reach a brief, shining moment of utter transcendence. When we become the masters of our own destiny.

For Jaime Rasmussen, the morning of March 2, 2000, presented such an opportunity.

A self-described “pretty darn average basketball player,” she found her moment, and with it sealed the first-ever win at the state tournament by a Coupeville High School girls’ basketball team.

Tina Lyness, Brianne King and Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby were the stars of the 1999-2000 Wolf hoop squad, but it was Rasmussen, normally a defensive-minded sparkplug, who sealed the deal in Coupeville’s landmark 46-42 win over Freeman.

Capping a 20-5 fourth quarter comeback by the Wolves, the always-feisty Rasmussen, a senior at the time, pulled off a dazzling spin, pump and drive combo while tiptoeing down the baseline, breaking a tie game with less than two minutes to play.

Moments later, after being fouled as time ran down, she closed out the pandemonium around her, ignored the screams of the fans, and calmly stared down the basket, sinking two free throws to ice the win.

Two years after her heroics, the Wolves are firmly established as perennial state contenders.

But that first huge step to being seen as a basketball power can be traced back to one quick lunge down the baseline. A silky-smooth maneuver by a player who treasures the memory, but is quick to downplay it as just one small play in a season full of great moments crafted by her teammates.

“It’s forever embedded in my memory,” Rasmussen said. “It’s the only time I ever used the baseline move where I pump-faked and actually made it all the way to the hoop.

“It was like my only, wow, I did something for the team, as far as offense goes,” she added. “I scored every once in a while, but I wasn’t a big-time scorer.”

While the baseline bucket happened in a flash, the free throws presented the chance for a slow, lingering death. The words of her coach, Willie Smith, are still with her.

“He’s like, you have to make these,” Rasmussen said. “You know, he gave me that little smirk on his face, like, if you don’t make these, I’m gonna...

“No,” she added with a laugh. “He just very calmly said, you can do this, Jaime, and I knew I could. I didn’t think about anything. I just shot and knew they would be good.”

Two years later, Rasmussen is a college student, sharing an apartment in Seattle with former teammate and longtime friend Tina Lyness, and balancing study with work.

She plans to become an interior designer or set decorator, and seems a natural, given her artistic nature.

“It’s a chance to have creative expression,” Rasmussen said. “It’s kind of cool to see all parts of something come together to form whatever you’ve imagined.”

Though she largely gave up basketball after high school, she regards the four years she spent running the floor for Coupeville as a great learning experience.

“I definately learned a lot from being on the team about teamwork and working with other people, working through differences,” she said. “It taught me a lot about having a strong work ethic. I think a lot of that has carried over as far as the rest of my life is concerned.”

She has thought recently about returning to the basketball court, but if not, she will always have that one game, when she reached up and carried a team, and a town, to new heights.

A transcendent moment forever etched in memory, yet merely one moment for a young woman whose life is rich with endless possibilities.

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