Sports

For boys, it's won or done at Coupeville | Playoff Preview

The Wolverines’ post-season prospects rest heavily on senior Jordan Nash, one of the team’s top scorers and rebounders.                                                                        - Scott Rasmussen
The Wolverines’ post-season prospects rest heavily on senior Jordan Nash, one of the team’s top scorers and rebounders.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

The Friday Harbor boys basketball team took to the court for its final two regular-season games locked in a three-way tie for the league title and a better-than-even chance of claiming at least a share.

But for the Wolverines, the post-season runs through Coupeville for the second year in a row regardless of where they end up in the Northwest 1A/2B League standings. And it’s a safe bet that Whidbey Island’s Wolves had revenge on their mind in Tuesday’s post-season opener.

More on that in a moment.

It’s one game at a time for Friday Harbor Head Coach Rod Turnbull and, with two league games left to go, the X’s and O’s for the upcoming showdown at Coupeville had to wait.

“We’ll have to figure that out after Saturday’s game,” Turnbull said.

The Wolverines (9-2 league, 11-6 overall) squared off against Mount Vernon Christian at home Friday and were on the road at Shoreline Christian Saturday for the regular-season finale. They notched decisive wins over both teams earlier this season. Like Friday Harbor, Darrington and La Conner were 9-2 in league play as of Friday.

Still, the stakes are high in the post-season clash at Coupeville. The loser has to hang it up for the year.

And that’s just what the Wolves were forced to do when Friday Harbor ousted them from the playoff picture a year ago in a closely-contested 48-40 defeat in front of their hometown crowd. The Wolverines followed up that win by tattooing Coupeville with a two-point loss in a nail-biter in Turnbull Gym earlier this season.

But the team Friday Harbor face on Tuesday isn’t the same one the Wolverines eked out a win against on Jan. 2. The Wolves (7-6 league, 10-9 overall) got a big boost in recent weeks by the return of starting low-post player Zepher Loesch and have been fortified by consistent competition against assorted 2A Division teams of the Cascade Conference.

The Wolverines boast a four-game win streak over Coupeville. But they are without starting low-post player, junior Parker Lawson, who two weeks ago suffered a season-ending ankle injury, for the remainder of the year. They will need prime-time performances on the boards and in the paint from the supporting cast, senior Albert Strasser and juniors Mike Ausilio and Elliot Howard, in order to fill the void and advance in the post season.

The winner of the Coupeville-Friday Harbor contest will square off against Meridian, the Northwest Conference’s No. 1 seed, on Friday at Meridian; tipoff is 7 p.m. The winner of that contest advances into the District 1 championship game, where an automatic berth in the state 1A tournament awaits.

The loser drops into the consolation bracket and can clinch a berth in the Tri-District playoff with a victory.

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