Hawthorne Wolfe slices through the defense for two of his career-high 34 points Wednesday night. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Grady Rickner sets for a pass.

Gavin Knoblich stops ‘n pops.

Jered Brown gets out of town, fast.

Alex Jimenez lets fly.

TJ Rickner finds his way through the tall trees.

Mason Grove rises up to deny a rival.

Four teams, one cameraman.

As Coupeville and Oak Harbor played out two intense boy’s basketball games Wednesday, the man with the lens in hand was wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken.

He delivers the pics seen above, but he also shot a lot more.

To see everything he snapped, and possibly ponder some purchases, pop over to:


Gwen Gustafson drives hard to the hoop. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Scout Smith knocks down two of her team-high 10 points.

Hannah Davidson runs the offense.

Ryanne Knoblich comes in hot.

Avalon Renninger gets tangled up during a battle for a loose ball.

Ella Colwell strolls in for a bucket.

Maddie Georges keeps her rival away from the ball.

The shoes were squeaking, and the camera was clicking.

Wednesday night’s Island rivalry girls basketball showdown between Coupeville and Oak Harbor brought out the big plays, and the bigger cameras.

The photos above are courtesy John Fisken, but are just the tip of what he captured.

To see everything he shot, and maybe purchase some glossies for Christmas presents, pop over to:


Tia Wurzrainer and other CHS athletes are organizing a toy drive for children in need. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

You can brighten a child’s life.

Coupeville High School’s Captain’s Panel, a group of Wolf athletes, is working with the middle and high school ASB groups to run a toy drive through Dec. 13.

New, boxed/packaged toys can be dropped off either at the CHS and CMS offices, or at any home basketball games over the next week.

Those games include:

Sat-Dec. 7 — CHS girls/boys, varsity/JV, vs. Orcas Island (3:30)
Wed-Dec. 11 — CMS boys vs. Sultan (3:15)
Thur-Dec. 12 — CHS C-Team boys vs. Squalicum (6:00)
Fri-Dec. 13 — CHS girls/boys, varsity/JV, vs. Concrete (5:15)

The drive is being run in conjunction with the Readiness to Learn Foundation, Toys for Tots, and other community organizations.

The intent is to help provide toys and financial assistance to those in need on Whidbey Island, while helping Wolf athletes demonstrate service to the community.

The Captain’s Panel is comprised of sophomore through senior CHS athletes, who have been selected by their coaches as leaders, people of character, and highly motivated student/athletes.

Prior to the toy drive, these Wolves also ran sports clinics for Coupeville Elementary School students.

The captains have planned, coordinated, and organized the drive, working with both schools to promote and educate other students to the cause.

If you donate a toy, either at the school offices (501 S. Main Street), or at basketball games, you’ll receive a candy cane, plus a warm glow in your chest.

Or, if you can’t be there in person, monetary donations can be sent to:

Holiday House
PO Box 280
Langley WA 98260

Grady Rickner tossed in a team-high 10 points Wednesday as the Coupeville JV hoops squad rumbled with Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Different game, different hero.

This year’s Coupeville High School JV boys basketball team is very balanced, with scoring threats at every position.

On opening night, Sage Downes had the hottest hand. Jump forward a night, and it was Grady Rickner’s turn.

The lanky sophomore tossed in a team-high 10 points Wednesday in Oak Harbor, leading a pack of nine Wolves who scored in a 68-40 loss.

Five players, led by Rickner, nailed three-balls, but it wasn’t enough to save Coupeville, which fell to 1-1 headed into its home opener.

That comes Saturday, when the Wolves host Orcas Island in another non-conference game.

Wednesday’s bout was a rock-em, sock-em affair from the start, with Oak Harbor bolting out to an 18-5 lead after one quarter of play.

The second frame was the most high-powered of the evening, with the teams combining for 38 points.

The talented Wildcats held the edge in that one, as well, using a 21-17 spurt to push the lead out before the half.

Rickner swished a pair of treys while piling up his 10 points, with Cody Roberts, Sage Downes, Logan Martin, and Alex Jimenez also hitting from long distance.

Downes finished with six points, while Jimenez (5), Daniel Olson (4), Roberts (4), Alex Murdy (4), Martin (3), Chris Cernick (2), and TJ Rickner (2) also dropped their names into the scoring column.

Rounding out the active Wolf roster were hard-playing hustlers Chris Ruck and Miles Davidson.

Hawthorne Wolfe singed the nets for a career-best 34 points Wednesday in a wild overtime game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

What a difference a year makes.

In last season’s opener, Coupeville, a 2B-sized school playing out the string in 1A, faced off with their next-door neighbor, 3A Oak Harbor, in a boy’s basketball game, and came within a bucket of losing by 50 points.

Wednesday night, on the second night of a back-to-back road-trip, the Wolves came within a bucket of flat-out beating their big-school rivals.

Oak Harbor escaped, scoring the final five points in overtime to eke out a 73-69 win in their opener, but Coupeville delivered a big statement.

The Wolves, who sit at 0-2 headed towards their own home opener Saturday against Orcas Island, won’t back down.

And they won’t have to, if they get play like they did Wednesday, when sophomore guard Hawthorne Wolfe burnt the whole gym down, and CHS big men Ulrik Wells, Jacobi Pilgrim, and Koa Davison came up huge in crunch time.

Wolfe will get the big headlines, and he deserves them, after tossing in a career-best 34 points.

Along the way, Coupeville’s modern-day “Pistol Pete” connected on seven three-balls and went on a 12-0 run by himself at one point.

It was the kind of blow-your-socks-off performance which carries you, in one night, past 21 former CHS players on the program’s career scoring chart.

Wolfe exited the Oak Harbor gym, just two games into his sophomore campaign, sitting in a tie with current Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock.

The duo each have 198 points in a Coupeville uniform, putting them in a (probably momentary) deadlock at #132 on the chart, which covers 103 seasons.

A quick three-ball from Wolfe tied the game at 3-3, then, with his team trailing 8-3, the CHS gunner went off on the kind of hot streak from long-range his coach, Brad Sherman, used to be known for back in the day.

Three straight trips down the floor, and three straight daggers, as Wolfe knifed the Wildcats from the top of the arc with pull-up jumpers which caressed the net as they slid through.

Not content to stop there, he capped his run by spearing a wayward pass and crashing hard to the hoop for a fourth-straight three-point play, but this one the hard way.

Slapping a layup high off the glass, Wolfe absorbed the hit, then calmly went to the line and plunked the ensuing free-throw to set the ‘Cats back on their heels.

Sean Toomey-Stout added a layup of his own, ripping the ball free and careening the length of the court on a breakaway, and suddenly a 14-0 run had Coupeville in front 17-8.

It would be the biggest lead of the night for the Wolves, but Oak Harbor had plenty of fight of its own.

Closing the first quarter on an 8-2 run, the Wildcats got back within 19-16 at the break, then netted one of their 12 three-balls on the opening play of the second quarter to knot the game back up.

If Oak Harbor thought their rivals would blink, Gavin Knoblich had an immediate answer, and that answer was “SIR, NO, SIR!,” as the Wolf senior netted his own trey from the top of the arc a split second later.

Eight more points from Wolfe, with a pair of long-range bombs and a sweet pull-up jumper off a delightful dish from running mate Mason Grove, and Coupeville refused to give the lead back.

Wolfe wasn’t the only one hitting, as Davison banked home a runner, and Grove hit pay dirt of his own from three-point land, sending CHS to the halftime break up 35-31.

That was just the setup for a wild ‘n woolly second half.

The third quarter was a roller-coaster ride, with Oak Harbor claiming a one-point lead, Coupeville responding with an 11-2 run sparked by Wolfe, Grove, and Jered Brown, then the Wildcats storming back once again.

Four ‘Cat three-balls to end the quarter, packaged around one trey from Wolfe, staked the hosts to a 50-49 lead headed into the final (we thought) quarter, sending Oak Harbor fans into a tizzy.

But the Wolves had their own fanatics in attendance, ready to rock their share of the gold ‘n purple encrusted gym I hadn’t visited since back in my Whidbey News-Times Sports Editor days.

How long ago was that?

Well, none of the players on the floor Wednesday were alive in the mid-’90s, so it’s been a moment or two.

If Coupeville’s weapon of choice through the first three quarters had been the long-range bomb, in the fourth the Wolves let the tall dudes go to work down low.

Wells, holding his own in the paint against Oak Harbor star (and could-have-been Coupeville teammate) Matt Kelley, sank a pair of short jumpers to tie the game at 53-53.

Then things got frantic.

Exchanging shots to the ribs, the teams traded the lead seven times down the stretch.

Davison (a put-back), Wells (a bank shot off the glass), and Toomey-Stout (two pressure-packed free throws in front of a hysterical crowd) gave CHS momentary one-point leads.

Back down 61-59 with a little over a minute to play, the Wolves got the tying bucket from Pilgrim, off a dish from Brown, then the go-ahead score on a Davison hook shot.

A pretty, pretty shot, it was set up by a HUGE offensive rebound from Pilgrim, who went between two Wildcats to rip the ball free.

An Oak Harbor miss away from one of the biggest wins in recent memory, Coupeville kept the ‘Cats from lofting another three-ball, but a running jumper from the side with 33 ticks to play was enough to force yet another tie.

CHS had the final shot in regulation, thanks to Wolfe popping his biceps and out-wrestling a rival who tried to force a jump ball, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Kelley, who played for Coupeville through eighth grade, opened overtime with a layup, but Toomey-Stout answered with a ferocious offensive rebound and put-back bucket.

With both fan sections losing their collective minds, the teams swapped leads after that.

Slashing to the hoop off of an in-bounds play, Wolfe garnered the final points of his breakout performance with a layup, before another Davison hook, thrown up in the middle of a mob, gave CHS a 69-68 edge.

Oak Harbor rose to the moment one final time, however, drilling their final three-ball of the night, then hitting two free throws as the final seconds ticked away on Coupeville.

Eight of the nine Wolf players to see the floor scored, and the one who didn’t, Tucker Hall, delivered one of the night’s best hustle plays.

Holding on for dear life against a ‘Cat player who had 30 pounds on him, at least, the lanky Wolf senior went up and over his rival, riding the bucking bronco while refusing to let go of the rock, earning a key jump ball.

Wolfe’s 34 topped all scorers, while Davison banked home eight, and Toomey-Stout, Grove, and Wells all popped for six.

Pilgrim (4), Knoblich (3), and Brown (2) rounded out the attack.