Close losses just aren't cutting it any more, according to Coupeville High School boys basketball coach Anthony Smith.
The Wolves need wins, not moral victories, Smith said, after his club fell 52-47 to visiting Lakewood Friday, Dec. 13, and 65-55 to visiting University Prep Saturday in a non-conference game.
Coupeville suffered through a handful of one-sided losses the past two seasons and just being close was a positive.
No more, Smith said.
"I am proud of the way my kids battled," Smith said, "but we have to execute on offense better."
The two games followed different paths.
Lakewood built an early lead and then weathered a furious Coupeville rally in the fourth quarter.
Seattle's University Prep and Coupeville battled through three close quarters before the Pumas pulled away late.
Lakewood ran to a 20-10 first-quarter lead behind 10 points from Ryan Alford. The lead was 29-21 at the break as Morgan Payne and Joel Walstad scored six points each for the Wolves.
The Cougars increased the gap to 42-30 heading into the final quarter.
Behind eight points by Wiley Hesselgrave and four from Nick Streubel, Wolves came roaring back but couldn't quite catch the Cougars (1-1, 2-2).
The ragged game featured 42 fouls (22 on Coupeville) and 51 free throws. Lakewood made 16 of 27 while the Wolves hit 15 of 24.
Hesselgrave scored a season-high 17 points, Payne had nine, Walstad eight, Anthony Bergeron six, Streubel six and Matt Shank one.
On paper, the University Prep-Coupeville matchup looked lopsided. The Pumas entered with a 3-1 record, but the Wolves were not intimidated.
University Prep went up 14-13 in the first quarter as Tommy Kranwinkle sank 11 points for the Pumas while six different Wolves scored.
Coupeville, however, fell into deep foul trouble as Hesselgrave and Trumbull had three fouls each and Streubel two. The trio sat extended minutes, which had a definite impact on the outcome.
Walstad, Bergeron and Shank scored four points each in the second period, and the Wolves remained one point down at half, 29-28.
A four minute span, starting with two minutes left in the third quarter, and two UP players swung the game in the Pumas' favor.
A three-point play by Hesselgrave cut the gap to 40-39, then Treon Triggs hit three field goals, two from beyond the arc, and the Pumas led 48-41 going into the fourth quarter.
Max Gregg drained a trio of threes in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and UP led 57-43. The Wolves would get no closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Bergeron played a solid game for Coupeville and led the Wolves with 16 points. Walstad had nine points, Shank eight, Trumbull seven, Payne six, Streubel five, Hesselgrave three and Gabe Wynn one.
Smith said UP "pushed us to the limit; the kids didn't back down."
As the game progressed, the two clubs became chippy, which disappointed Smith: "We got caught up in some things and the boys lost focus."
The Wolves (0-2, 0-4) and South Whidbey (0-2, 0-6) meet in Coupeville at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17. The game is an important step in determining which two of the Cascade Conference's three 1A schools will qualify for the postseason. The league's other 1A school, King's, is 1-1 (2-1).