CHS girls start district with win, face powerful Lyncs next

Kendra O’Keefe takes aim on a 3-pointer in Coupeville’s win over Friday Harbor.  - Jim Woolbright/Whidbey News-Times
Kendra O’Keefe takes aim on a 3-pointer in Coupeville’s win over Friday Harbor.
— image credit: Jim Woolbright/Whidbey News-Times

The Coupeville girls basketball team completed its first step to qualifying for tri-district by running away from visiting Friday Harbor in the fourth quarter for a 43-26 win Wednesday.

The victory in the loser-out game moved the Wolves (12-9) to the final four at district and eliminated Friday Harbor (15-6).

Coupeville now has to win one of its next two games to reach tri-district at Mountlake Terrace High School next week.

Next up for the Wolves is a trip to state-power Lynden Christian (18-2) Friday at 7 p.m. The Lyncs are currently ranked third in the state 1A poll and are the champions of the Northwest 3A/2A/1A Conference. Since 1976, Lynden Christian has appeared in 13 state title games, winning nine (the most recent in 2008).

Coupeville will have its hands full with the Lyncs' powerful front line. Jasmine Hommes, a 6-1 sophomore, leads the Lyncs in scoring with 15.1 points per game.

She is flanked by 5-11 senior Ashley Carhuff (11.3 points per game) and 5-10 junior Kayleigh Ryan (7.9 points per game).

Nooksack Valley (12-9) defeated Meridian (4-17) 57-50 Wednesday in the other loser-out game. The Pioneers will now face King's (12-8) Friday.

The two winners of Friday's games will play at 7:45 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School Saturday to determine the top two seeds heading to tri-district.

The losers of Friday's games meet in Mount Vernon Saturday at 4:15 p.m. to battle it out for the third and final tri-district berth.

Coupeville's win over Friday Harbor Wednesday featured long stretches where one or both teams failed to score.

That theme played out from the beginning when neither team scored until nearly halfway through the first period.

The Wolves' Ashley Manker sank a hoop at the 4:09 mark, and the score was still just 2-1 with 45 seconds left when Kayla Short of Friday Harbor made her team's first field goal.

Thirty seconds later Kelsey Barnes scored again for the Lady Wolverines, and then Cassidi Rosenkrance countered for Coupeville just before the buzzer as Friday Harbor led at the quarter 5-4.

When Rosenkrance opened the second period with a hoop, Coupeville went up 6-5 and would never trail again.

The Wolves' lead was 13-5 when Friday Harbor finally scored in the period with 3:48 left.

Coupeville took an 18-12 lead into the locker room.

The Wolves started the second half with scores from Katie Smith and Marie Hesselgrave (off a nice assist from Smith), and Coupeville had a 10-point lead, 22-12.

Now it was Coupeville's turn for its offense to go quiet.

Over the next five minutes the Wolves went scoreless as the Wolverines worked themselves back into the game.

Mandy Turnbull scored for Friday Harbor, then Barnes bucketed two put-backs. With 2:32 left in the quarter, Barnes added two free throws to make it 22-20, and the Wolverines had all the momentum.

Manker finally broke the Wolves' scoreless streak with a 3-pointer in what Coupeville coach Blake Severns called the game's "turning point." Moments later she added another basket and the Wolves wrestled back control to lead 27-22 at the quarter.

Again the Friday Harbor offense went dry and didn't score until five minutes into the final quarter. Its only other points in the period came with three seconds left in the game.

Severns said, "The key was that we played fantastic defense. They couldn't have scored more than five times out of their half-court offense."

He added, "We executed our game plan very well." The plan was to control Barnes and Maggie Anderson. The pair scored just nine points, all from Barnes.

Anderson was held in check by the defense of Hesselgrave and Smith. When Coupeville and Friday Harbor played earlier this season, Anderson scored 10 points in Coupeville's 41-37 win.

Severns said, "Marie was big tonight; she scored nine points and gave up zero. That's huge."

The Coupeville defense harassed the Wolverines into a poor shooting night and numerous turnovers; however, Friday Harbor didn't help its cause by failing to convert a handful of wide-open looks when Coupeville was pulling away in the second half.

It wasn't all defense for Coupeville. "We executed (offensively) very well; we were very patient against their press," Severns said. "We did not try to force anything."

Severns added, "We got a couple of big baskets by Rosenkrance and (Kendra) O'Keefe."

Rosenkrance finished with a strong all-around game with eight points, seven steals and five rebounds.

O'Keefe had four assists along with six points.

Manker was the big gun, scoring 16 points and adding four steals, and Smith had two points.

The Wolves' leading scorer for the year, Megan Smith, was limited to two free throws. However, she finished with six rebounds and four steals, and she also teamed with Manker to handle the brunt of Friday Harbor's press.

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