Going into the girls basketball contest against Lakewood Friday, Jan. 24, Coupeville High School coach David King said he expected a "tough game." It turned out to be tough in more ways than one.
As expected, it was close and hard fought. The visiting Cougars won 39-36.
But it was also a tough loss for the Wolves to accept because they let an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away as Lakewood finished the game on a 17-3 run.
Turnovers, missed shots, lax defense and poor execution hurt the Wolves during the Lakewood comeback, according to King.
Once the Cougars went into the lead, the Wolves tried to mount their own comeback. Amanda Fabrizi drilled a baseline three to cut the deficit to one with two minutes left.
Lakewood pushed the lead to three a minute later.
Coupeville's Bree Messner attacked the basket and scored over three defenders to put the Wolves back within one with 14 seconds remaining.
Forced to foul to stop the clock, Coupeville sent Lakewood to the line with nine seconds left. Marissa Blake calmly nailed both.
Maddi Strasburg got off a potential tying three-pointer at the buzzer under heavy defense but couldn't connect.
Coupeville made only one of five free throws in the fourth quarter.
The Wolves trailed 9-8 after the first period, failing to take advantage of several "good looks," King said.
The second quarter was a different story when Coupeville outscored the Cougars 12-5, in part to strong defense, according to King.
Kacie Kiel scored five points and Messner four in the quarter; the Wolves also sank six of eight free throws.
Both teams scored eight points in the third period, and Coupeville led 28-22.
The Wolves scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, then the Cougars started their winning rally.
"We didn't bring the same intensity for a full 32 minutes," King said. "We played hard the whole game, our defense was just a step slow and allowed too many baseline drives. We didn't crash the offensive boards like we have been doing the past month. We had some really good looks throughout the game, we just couldn't get them to fall."
Messner finished with a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. She also passed for two assists.
Kiel added seven points, six rebounds and three assists.
Makana Stone had four points and 10 rebounds; Julia Myers tallied two points and five rebounds.
Fabrizi scored eight points and Strasburg five.
Blair, scoring 14 points in the second half, led Lakewood with 16 points.
The Wolves (3-6, 6-8) can put a firm grip on a playoff spot with a win at South Whidbey (1-8, 2-12) at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Two 1A teams from the Cascade Conference move on to the post season. King's, at 9-0, has wrapped up one berth, leaving the Wolves and Falcons to fight for the second with five league games left.