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Wolves cold in playoff opener
Suffering through a miserable shooting night, the Coupeville High School boys basketball team lost 70-19 at Lynden Christian in the first round of the district tournament Tuesday.
Last week Coupeville finished up the conference season with a 62-27 loss at Granite Falls Tuesday and a 66-36 home loss to King’s Friday.
The Wolves (1-20) now go to South Whidbey at 7 p.m. tonight to face the Falcons (4-18) in a loser-out game.
Coupeville expected a full-court press in its game against top-seeded and third-ranked Lynden Christian, and unlike many times this season, the Wolves had little trouble with the pressure.
Coupeville was so proficient at breaking the press and getting good looks in transition, Lynden Christian abandoned the strategy early in the game.
The Wolves, however, couldn’t take advantage of the excellent scoring opportunities, then or throughout the game, because they shot a frigid 16 percent (7-for-43).
Lynden Christian (16-5), on the other hand, shot a sparkling 54 percent (27-for-50), getting numerous transition baskets from fast breaks off the Coupeville misses.
When Ben Etzell hit his second three-pointer of the game with 4:43 left in the first quarter, the Wolves trailed only 8-6. By the time Wiley Hesselgrave made Coupeville’s next field goal, the Wolves went over 10 minutes without a bucket and trailed 36-9.
Etzell, returning after missing several games with a staph infection, was the only Wolf with more than one hoop in the game; he finished with 10 points. Joel Walstad scored three points, and Hesselgrave, Anthony Bergeron and Nick Streubel had two apiece.
Starter Aaron Curtin missed the game because of an illness.
Coach Anthony Smith said of Lynden Christian, “They can pass, they shoot, they can defend.” He added the obvious, “If we are going to compete, we have to shoot the ball better.”
Granite Falls (4-8, 8-10) motored to a 15-8 first quarter lead and extended the margin to 35-16 at halftime and 48-24 after three quarters.
Streubel paced the Wolves with 11 points, followed by Morgan Payne and Curtin with five each, and Walstad and Carson Risner with four apiece.
Against King’s, Curtin ran into the baseline wall trying to save a loose ball during the final minute of the game with his team down 30 points. Even with three of their top players out with injuries, and even with the game out of reach, the Wolves played full throttle.
“That’s our M.O.,” said Smith. “We are going to play hard. We are going to go after them, with mistakes or without mistakes. We are going to let them know they are in a battle.”
He added, “The score isn’t indicative of the game. We went in the game thinking we could beat them. “
King’s (12-2, 15-5) led 15-7 after the first quarter and the lead grew to 22, 34-12, with 2:57 left in the half thanks to a handful of transition baskets from Coupeville turnovers against the Knights’ press. It was 35-19 at the break.
Caleb Valko hit the first two baskets of the second half and the Wolves were within 12, 35-23. The Knights recovered and led 48-29 at the end of the quarter.
Once King’s went up by 20 in the second quarter, Coupeville held its own until the final moments when the Knights finished the game on a 15-2 run.
The Wolves were hurt by fouls, with three of its eight players fouling out and another finishing the game with four fouls.
King’s hit 22 of 35 free throws. Coupeville was 9-for-15.
Coupeville finished the game with 33 turnovers to King’s 12.
Streubel led Coupeville scorers with 10 points. Curtin had seven, Hesselgrave six, Valko five, Payne four and Risner four.
Before the game, Coupeville honored seniors Valko and Drew Chan.