Perennial power Lynden Christian took its first step toward winning its eighth state championship by overwhelming the visiting Coupeville High School girls basketball team 55-18 in the opening round of the district tournament Monday.
The Wolves closed out the regular season with a 48-21 win over visiting Granite Falls Tuesday, Jan. 29, and a 59-32 loss at King’s Friday
Coupeville (6-15) tried to avoid elimination from the district playoffs when it traveled to South Whidbey (11-11) last night in a loser-out game. Results were not available at press time. If the Wolves won, they play at 7 p.m. Friday at the loser of last night’s Blaine/King’s game.
Lynden Christian (18-3) used a relentless defense to roll by the Wolves. Coupeville handled the Lyncs’ pressure early, but midway through the first quarter what was a trickle of turnovers became a wide-open faucet.
Lynden Christian turned four turnovers into eight points to jump to a 12-5 first quarter lead. Then came the flood.
Coupeville started the second period with five consecutive turnovers which the Lyncs converted into 10 points.
By the time the quarter was over, Coupeville failed to score and LC led 30-5.
For the game, the Lyncs scored 27 points off 40 Coupeville turnovers.
The mistakes and Lynden Christian’s defense limited Coupeville’s offensive opportunities. The Wolves shot only 13 percent (2-for-15) the first half and finished the game shooting 27.7 percent (8-for-30).
Bree Messner hit a hoop with 3:12 left in the first quarter, and the Wolves wouldn’t hit another field goal until Bessie Walstad scored 90 seconds into the third period, a span of 14 minutes.
Lynden Christian pulled off its press in the second half, but its aggressive man-to-man defense continued to frustrate the Wolves. LC led 40-10 heading into the final period.
Walstad scored six points and had two assists to lead Coupeville. Messner finished with four points, while Kacie Kiel, Lauren Escalle, Makana Stone and Hailey Hammer had two each. Hammer collected a team-high eight rebounds.
In the win over Granite Falls (0-13, 1-18), Coupeville held the Tigers to only three points in the first half, leading 9-3 at the quarter and 24-3 at the break.
The tone for the Senior Night contest was set from the get-go as Coupeville forced Granite Falls into three turnovers and three air balls in its first six possessions.
Coupeville coach David King used 10 players in the first period, giving all six seniors playing time in their final home game.
Ten of the 11 Wolves who played scored, including all the seniors: Walstad eight, Escalle five, Rhiannon Ellsworth four, Haley Marx two, Jai’Lysa Hoskins two and Katie Kiel two.
Freshman Stone finished with nine points. Sophomore Hammer added seven, junior Amanda Fabrizi six and junior Messner three.
Senior cheerleaders Darian Emerick, Emily Clay, Iris Ryckaert, Nicole Becker and Teri Lee were honored at half time.
After playing King’s tough the first time through the schedule, King thought his club had a chance to upset the Knights the second time around. A strong start by King’s, however, dashed those ideas.
King’s (10-4, 13-7) loves to press and the Wolves handled the pressure well when the two teams met Jan. 8 (a 41-33 King’s win).
This time, however, turnovers from the press haunted Coupeville in the first quarter as the Knights went ahead 12-4 and led 25-16 at halftime.
King said the Wolves felt good being down by only nine after the shaky first quarter.
Coupeville ran into a different problem in the third quarter. Its defenders were slow in closing out on shooters and the Knights sank three three-pointers to push their lead to 41-24.
The Knights also benefitted from shooting 14 more foul shots than Coupeville, hitting 11 of 21 to the Wolves’ two of seven.
King said although the Wolves’ execution was lacking, their effort wasn’t: “The one thing about this team is the effort they give every night from the tip to final buzzer.”
He pointed out hustle plays by Messner and Escalle led to baskets late in the game even though the game was out of reach.
Stone finished with eight points and eight rebounds. Madeline Strasburg had five points; Fabrizi, Messner and Walstad four each; Escalle, Hammer and Marx two each; and Hoskins one.