Sports

Wolves bounce back with big win | Boys basketball

Coupeville
Coupeville's Nick Streubel scores over the defense of La Conner's Cameron Sherman Friday.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

It was a long time coming, but there was no doubt about it once it arrived.


The Coupeville High School boys basketball team needed a win, badly, and when it finally broke through, it did so in dominating fashion. The Wolves destroyed visiting Orcas Island 84-37 Saturday, Jan. 4.


The victory helped take away some of the pain of the Wolves' 0-6 start, including a tough two-point loss, 47-45, to visiting La Conner the night before.


The win broke a 13-game losing streak which began last year and was only the second victory in the past 47 games.


"I am proud of the kids," coach Anthony Smith said. "They kept working hard; they deserved it. It was a good, solid team effort."


"I was tired of people telling us 'good game.' We wanted a good win."


The improved play of the Wolves over the weekend can be attributed, partially, to the return of senior Gavin O'Keefe.


O'Keefe, who earned a starting spot his sophomore year, broke his foot the second game of last season and was out for the remainder of the year. He then suffered the same injury during open gym in October.


O'Keefe, who underwent surgery and rehabilitation, returned to the court Friday. His strong, all-around play will help steady the Wolves, Smith said; and those attributes were evident Friday and Saturday although O'Keefe is only "about 75 percent."


"He might be only 75 percent, but he only knows one speed," Smith said. "He plays hard; he doesn't cut back."


O'Keefe said "it feels great" to be back.


He added the most frustrating part about sitting out was watching the Wolves lose and "there was nothing I could do about it; there was nothing I could do to help out."


When injured, he said tried to do what he could to get better, working his upper body and, while his teammates went through two hours of practice, sitting in a chair and dribbling.


O'Keefe was one of five players in double figures in the win over Orcas Island. He scored 13 points, Anthony Bergeron added 19, Aaron Trumbull 16, Wiley Hesselgrave 14 and Morgan Payne 11.


Joel Walstad finished with five points, Matt Shank four and Jared Helmstadter two.


Coupeville committed only six turnovers.


The Wolves led 27-7, 57-18 and 72-25 at the quarters.


Smith lauded the play of Bergeron, who is playing in just his second year of organized basketball.


Smith called the senior post a "student of the game," watching game tapes and working hard to improve.


The Wolves cruised to the win even without starting center Nick Streubel, who had a football commitment in Oregon.


The loss to La Conner was a heart-breaker. The Wolves, down 42-30 heading into the fourth quarter, went on a 13-1 run to tie the game at 43 with 2:15 left.


Streubel, who led the comeback with 11 fourth-quarter points, scored the equalizer. He, however, fouled out 24 seconds later and La Conner's Matt Finley hit two free throws to help the Braves regain the lead.
La Conner scored again on a Coupeville turnover seconds later.


Walstad made it 47-45 with 49 seconds left. Coupeville forced La Conner into a shot-clock violation, but the Wolves couldn't tie it on their last possession.


Defense was the key to the comeback, Smith said.


"When we started the fourth, we told the kids we had to get one stop at a time." The Wolves did, limiting La Conner to only one point in the first six minutes and five for the period.


Streubel scored 13 points, Bergeron nine, Hesselgrave eight, O'Keefe five, Trumbull four, Payne four and Walstad two.


After last weekend's two nonleague games, the Wolves (0-3, 1-6) travel to Sultan (2-1, 5-2) at 6:45 Tuesday, Jan. 7, for a Cascade Conference matchup.

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