Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Braves Sports, Dec. 28, 2011

Photo by Melissa Reynolds

Lady Braves rebound, win big over Coupeville
By Bill Reynolds
The La Conner High girls' basketball team was looking for a bounce back game after suffering a tough loss at Darrington.
They found one Wednesday night against another longtime rival, Coupeville.
It was a pairing the Lady Braves won moments after tipoff, bursting to an early 24-2 lead and never looking back en route to an eventual 48-18 romp.
"The Coupeville game was definitely a good one for us following the loss at Darrington," La Conner head coach Scott Novak said afterward. "The team came out and played aggressively, and basically put the game away in the first half."
La Conner parlayed its tenacious full-court press into Coupeville turnovers and easy transition baskets, building a 31-5 cushion at intermission.
The advantage swelled to 38-8 going into the final stanza.
The early and large lead allowed Novak to substitute liberally and keep his squad well rested going into Tuesday's late action with Adna and this Friday's trip to Toutle Lake.
Priscilla Ponce-Venegas finished with eight points to lead 10 La Conner scorers, all of whom benefitted from the Lady Braves' "pass-first" mindset in their halfcourt attack.
"I thought we moved the ball really well on offense," Novak insisted afterward.
Point guard Nikki Finley recorded two assists in playing time limited by the lopsided score.
Solid passing by Finley and her teammates enabled La Conner to shoot 43 per cent from the field (17 of 40), including three of seven trey attempts.
Finley, Katie McKnight, and Katie Novak each buried shots from beyond the arc.
La Conner literally rebounded well in bouncing back from the earlier Darrington defeat.
Aubrey Stewart paced the Lady Braves with seven caroms, to go along with five points.
Emily Anderson (7), Kelly McClung (5), Emma Christianson (2), Lauren Reynolds (2), and Alyssa McCormick (2) rounded out LaConner's scoring.
Coach Novak expected stern tests this week from Adna and Toutle Lake.
"These," he said, "should be two very tough non-league games."
Of that, the Lady Braves are well aware. They know the visit to Toutle Lake, in particular, is no mere holiday vacation.
To that end, they worked out until 7 p.m. the day after Christmas, not expecting gifts from either Toutle Lake or Adna.

 Photo by Melissa Reynolds
Braves earn praise as road warriors
By Bill Reynolds
The La Conner Braves passed their first big road test of the season with flying colors.
But head coach Scott Novak isn't quite ready to say his club, which remained unbeaten with a convincing 66-53 win last week at 3A Sedro-Woolley, is in the driver's seat yet.
"The Sedro-Woolley game was a nice win for the team," Novak said after the much anticipated clash, which was broadcast live on radio. "The boys played well, executing on offense and playing good defense."
Landy James, Jonah Cook, and Mike Wilbur paced a balanced La Conner attack at Sedro-Woolley that saw seven Braves land in the scoring column.
Wilbur literally filled the stat sheet, meshing 12 points on five-of-nine shooting while also recording three steals and dishing off a pair of assists.
James led the La Conner point parade with 18 points, including a perimeter trey.
Cook, meanwhile, punished the Cubs inside with 17 tallies and three blocked shots.
He converted six of nine attempts from the floor and made Sedro-Woolley pay when the hosts fouled him in the paint.
Cook converted five of six charity tosses – nearly half the Braves' team total.
But despite the impressive triumph, in which La Conner led throughout, Novak remained the soul of caution even after the Sedro-Woolley win was safely in the books.
His focus was instead on this week's longer road trip to southwest Washington.
"Things don't get any easier," he stressed, "as we play at Adna (Thursday) and Toutle Lake (Friday)."
So it was left for La Conner fans to savor Wednesday night's victory.
They saw contributions by the entire roster against a bigger school featuring in Isaac Bianchini one of the top scorers in the area.
Bianchini paced the Cubs with 13 points, but it wasn't nearly enough against a deep La Conner squad.
Consider that Tyler Howlett responded with a season-best nine points, hitting four of seven field goal attempts.
And that Bobby Poulton drained the only shot he took, and was one of five Braves to register assists – confirming Novak's praise about how well his club ran its offense.
In addition to Wilbur and Poulton, James, Jared Fohn, and Spencer Novak also passed off for buckets, helping trigger LaConner's motion offense.
The Braves bolted to an early 16-12 lead, but used a 21-9 run in the third period to set the tone.
LaConner led by double digits much of the second half, entering the final frame with a comfortable 51-35 edge.
Thursday's tipoff at Adna, which is coach Novak's high school alma mater, is set for 7 p.m. The Friday matinee at Toutle Lake gets under way at 4:30 p.m.
 La Conner grapplers give peak effort at Mt. Baker
By Bill Reynolds
La Conner High's Jimmy Garcia wasn't being asked to move mountains last weekend.
It just seemed that way.
The Braves’ wrestler found himself paired against Concrete's Johnny Evans, ranked No. 2 in the State at 145 pounds, during one of his four matches at the highly competitive Mount Baker Invitational Tournament.
It proved to be a peak moment for Garcia, who upset Evans for one of his two victories on the afternoon – competing mostly against foes from the 2A through 4A ranks.
"I was very happy with Garcia's day at 145," La Conner head coach Barry Harper said afterward. "He went 2-2, but it was probably the toughest weight class in the tournament."
La Conner's Dahlton Zavala placed fourth in the 160s, while teammate Cameron Wischhusen clinched fifth place in the 182s.
Kevin Aske (138), Todd Hoagland (170), and William Zeimantz (285) won one match apiece for La Conner at the Mount Baker meet.
It was a 16-team tourney which saw La Conner grapplers continue to make progress, despite often facing uphill battles against wrestlers from larger schools.
The Braves placed 12th overall on the boys' side.
In the girls' competition, La Conner's Amber Drye and Frances Zeimantz each won two matches.
"We fared pretty well, I thought," said Harper. "I'm continuing to see improvement every week, which is good. That's exactly what we need."
La Conner resumes mat action 2 p.m. on Thursday at home opposite Mount Vernon.


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