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   Monday marks four weeks until Ulrik Wells and other Wolf basketball players hit the hard-court. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   CHS seniors Lauren Rose (22) and Allison Wenzel (12) are vital parts of a girls hoops program which is 27-0 all-time in varsity Olympic League games.

It’s never too early to think about basketball.

Four weeks from today (Monday, Nov. 13) is the first day of practice for Coupeville High School’s hoop teams, and the first official game is two weeks after that.

On the girls side, David and Amy King return for their sixth season at the helm of the Wolf varsity and JV programs. Meanwhile, the CHS boys program starts anew, with first-year coaches Brad Sherman and Chris Smith.

Coupeville’s girls have won three straight Olympic League crowns, are 27-0 all-time in conference play and went to the state tourney in 2016.

Success has been a little harder to find on the boys side of the ball, where the Wolves haven’t posted a winning season since 2010.

Sherman, who graduated from CHS in 2003, was a key player on the 2001-2002 boys basketball squad, the last to win a league title. He’s the #8 scorer in program history.

And that history is a long one, as the Wolf boys are heading into their 101st season of round-ball play.

Thanks to smart (or lucky) scheduling, Coupeville hosts Chimacum Jan. 19, 2018, the anniversary of the first basketball game in school history.

Back then, CHS drilled Langley 29-7 on Jan. 19, 1917.

The Wolf girls program hasn’t been around as long — this will be its 44th season — but owns all three state banners (6th in 2002, 8th in 2003 and 8th in 2005) won by a Coupeville basketball team.

As you count down the days until hoops mania reigns supreme, a fairly concrete look at the 2017-2018 schedules is below.

Things may change a bit, due to weather, ferry issues or the whims of fate, so keep an eye on these two sites for updates as we go forward:

Coupeville Schools — http://coupeville.tandem.co/

Olympic League — http://www.olympicleague.com/

League games are identified with an asterisk. Start times are JV first, varsity second.

GIRLS:

Mon-Nov. 27 – @ Bellingham (5:30/7:00)
Wed-Nov. 29 – Blaine (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Dec. 1 – Mount Vernon Christian (7:00/5:15)
Wed-Dec. 6 – @Klahowya* (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Dec. 8 – Sequim (3:30/5:15)
Sat-Dec. 9 – @South Whidbey (6:45/5:00)
Tues-Dec. 12 – @Port Townsend* (5:15/7:00)
Sat-Dec. 16 – Bellevue Christian (4:45/4:45)
Wed-Dec. 20 – Concrete (7:00/5:15)
Fri-Dec. 29 – Orcas Island (TBD)
Wed-Jan. 3 – @Chimacum* (4:30/6:00)
Fri-Jan. 5 – @North Mason (3:45/5:30)
Tue-Jan. 9 – Port Townsend* (5:15/5:15)
Sat-Jan. 13 – @Meridian (5:45/7:15)
Tue-Jan. 16 – Klahowya* (5:15/3:30)
Fri-Jan. 19 – @Chimacum* (5:15/6:00)
Fri-Jan. 26 – Port Townsend* (3:30/5:15)
Tues-Jan. 30 – @Sequim (5:15/3:30)
Thur-Feb. 1 – @Klahowya* (5:15/3:45)
Sat-Feb. 3 – Chimacum* (3:30/5:15) SENIOR NIGHT

BOYS:

Wed-Nov. 29 – @ Blaine (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Dec. 1 – Mount Vernon Christian (5:15/7:00)
Wed-Dec. 6 – Klahowya* (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Dec. 8 – Sequim (5:15/3:30)
Sat-Dec. 9 – @South Whidbey (5:00/6:45)
Tues-Dec. 12 – Port Townsend* (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Dec. 15 – @Vashon Island (4:30/6:00)
Sat-Dec. 16 – Bellevue Christian (4:45/3:00)
Wed-Dec. 20 – Concrete (no JV/7:00)
Fri-Dec. 29 – Orcas Island (TBD)
Wed-Jan. 3 – Chimacum* (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Jan. 5 – North Mason (5:15/7:00)
Tue-Jan. 9 – @Port Townsend* (5:15/7:00)
Sat-Jan. 13 – @Sultan (5:00/6:45)
Tue-Jan. 16 – @Klahowya* (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Jan. 19 – Chimacum* (5:15/7:00)
Fri-Jan. 26 – @Port Townsend* (5:15/7:00)
Tues-Jan. 30 – @Sequim (3:30/TBD)
Thur-Feb. 1 – Klahowya* (5:15/7:00) SENIOR NIGHT
Sat-Feb. 3 – @Chimacum* (5:15/7:00)

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   The Big Bad (Coupeville) Wolf gets star billing on the 1956 CHS yearbook cover. (Jack Sell photos/yearbook courtesy Sandy Roberts)

   Sandy Roberts, grandfather of current Wolf three-sport star Lindsey Roberts, back when he was a bright-eyed 14-year-old freshman.

The 1955 CHS cheer squad was thin on numbers, but strong on lung power.

   Wolf hoops star Jack Elzinga. If I was alive and covering sports back then, I would have nicknamed him “The Zinger.”

   Principal, teacher, coach, class advisor — Mert Waller, father of current Whidbey News-Times Sports Editor Jim Waller, did it all in those days.

If you wanted a song, and not a cheer, this trio were who you called.

   After a four-year absence, the Wolves returned to the gridiron (and whomped Oak Harbor).

Certain years in Coupeville High School sports history stand out.

Try 1969-1970, which gave us the greatest show on Earth — or at least in Cow Town — as Jeff Stone tickled the twines for an astonishing 644 points in one season as the high-scoring Wolves became the first Whidbey Island basketball team to win a district title.

Or take a gander at 2001-2002, when the CHS girls went to state in volleyball, basketball and softball, bringing home banners in the latter two sports.

That softball run, with four wins in five games at the state tourney, losing only to eventual champ Adna, was the closest any Coupeville squad has come to winning a team state title.

But today we’re here to talk about 1955-1956.

And why is that?

Cause, thanks to Sandy Roberts, who was a bright-eyed freshman that year, I’m holding a pristine yearbook in my hand.

Roberts would go on to be an athlete and a scholar, a successful coach and a papa whose two sons and (so far) three of his grandchildren would all star for his alma mater.

These days, he’s a few years older, yet still just as bright-eyed.

Thanks to him, I now know the graduating class of ’56 was 26 students deep (14 girls, 12 boys) and helped spur a pretty decent sports year for the Wolves.

It began on the gridiron, where Coupeville returned to football after a four-year absence.

Playing under coach Mert Waller, the Wolves made their return an auspicious one, throttling Oak Harbor 24-0 behind senior QB Jerry Zylstra.

It was back to reality after that, as CHS dropped its final four games, though all were fairly close.

The Wolves fell 13-7 to Langley, 14-13 to Everett, 13-0 to Marysville and 18-6 in a rematch with pesky Langley.

All that was forgotten about as fall turned into winter, though, as Coupeville’s basketball squad roared out of the gate and never looked back.

With Waller unleashing a lineup led by senior Jack Elzinga, who topped the Wolves in scoring for a second-straight year, CHS blitzed through the regular season to a 14-3 tune.

That included a pair of wins over Oak Harbor (50-41 and 66-49) and Langley (41-33 and 46-38), and, more importantly, a sweep of La Conner (75-68 and 41-39).

While the Braves slipped away with the Northwest Tri-County League title by a whisker, Coupeville was the only conference team to hand them a loss.

Coming off their second-place league showing, the Wolves opened the district tourney with wins over Monroe (61-46) and Darrington (61-57), but were upended 65-54 by Twin City in the semis.

Coupeville then closed with a razor-thin 54-51 loss to La Conner, settling for second place.

The Wolves had come close to a district title, but, as history now tells us, were still 14 years away from making Whidbey Island history.

Somewhere a four-year-old Jeff Stone was biding his time, whispering “Soon, soon…”

Spring brought boys tennis and baseball, with the netters finishing 5-3 under the coaching of Jack Berry.

The Wolves won two of three matches against Oak Harbor, continuing a year of domination over their Northern rivals, but Friday Harbor nipped CHS for the league title.

On the diamond, Waller’s warriors had four batters top .314 at the plate (Meryl Gordon legged out five triples, while Harold Buckner smashed five doubles) to spark a 10-5 season.

This time around, the Wolves took three of four against Oak Harbor.

With ’56 being pre-Title IX, Coupeville girls did get a taste of sports, but just a taste.

There was cheer and the G.A.A. (Girls’ Athletic Association) also brought together 21 Wolves, led by President Norma Sinema and Vice President Janice Libbey, for Friday night competition in basketball, volleyball and baseball.

Those young women would one day see their daughters and granddaughters get the chance to compete in a way they were denied, but they were trailblazers for the time.

The members of the G.A.A.:

Patricia Clark
Vicky Criscuola
Barbara Hadaway
Dolores Harper
Judy Huffman
Kathy Johnson
Rocky Johnson
Hannelore Langanka
Peggy Lanphere
Janice Libbey
Arlie Lynch
Gladys Mackey
Pat Maurer
Marilu Pierce
Betty Jo Schreiber
Reva Scott
Susan Sherman
Sally Shrum
Norma Sinema
Beverly Vaughan
Marcia Vercoe

Thanks to the yearbook, I also have pristine stats for two of the four main sports, so numbers for basketball and baseball:

 

Baseball:

Player AB Hits Runs 2B 3B HR Avg.
Harold Buckner 57 20 16 5 2 1 .351
Bob Lanphere 60 21 14 1 2 .350
Jerry Zylstra 53 18 16 2 .340
Meryl Gordon 51 16 14 2 5 1 .314
Len Buckner 49 13 9 1 1 .265
John Moskeland 54 12 10 3 .222
Denny Zylstra 45 10 6 2 .222
Dick Yake 45 7 5 1 .156
Pat Clark 33 3 3 .091
Gary Hammons 19 1 5 .052
Peter Whelan 1 .000
Bill Grasser 1 1 .000
TOTALS 467 121 105 16 10 3 .259

 

Basketball:

Player Games FG FT Fouls Points Avg.
Pat Clark 21 58 71 61 187 8.9
Blaine Ghormley 20 63 41 46 167 8.4
Jack Elzinga 21 123 63 67 309 14.7
Harold Buckner 21 67 37 31 171 8.1
Jerry Zylstra 21 59 72 43 190 9.1
Doug Speers 19 9 15 19 33 1.7
John Moskeland 13 3 2 3 8 0.6
Len Buckner 13 7 2 4 16 1.2
Denny Zylstra 8 6 4 3 16 2.0
Gary Hammons 10 4 3 4 11 1.1
Meryl Gordon 6 1 2 1 0.2
Mike Criscoula 4 1
Gene Jaeger 5 1
David Vaughan 2
TOTALS 21 399 311 285 1109 52.8

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   Ashton Prats flies for yardage while playing for Oak Harbor last season. (John Fisken photo)

Prats goes up for a bucket during a basketball game. (Submitted photo)

It starts and ends with his mother.

Whether he’s on the football field or basketball court, in the classroom or tackling everyday life, Ashton Prats always has his heart set on making the woman who brought him into the world proud.

“My mom has fought through the hardest of times to make sure I had a roof over my head, dinner on the table,” Prats said. “She has made sure that I know things don’t get easy until they’re done being hard.

“I respect her so much as a person and as my mother,” he added. “Without her I wouldn’t have the self drive I do today to keep bettering myself on and off the field every day.”

Prats recently transferred from Oak Harbor and will be a junior at Coupeville High School when the new school year begins.

“I decided to switch about halfway through summer because I thought it would be more beneficial academically,” he said.

Having started playing football in the fifth grade, Prats is a veteran on the gridiron, and one who already has some connection with the Wolves.

And by connection, we mean he ran over them during a JV game last season, when he bolted for three touchdowns on the ground and almost got a fourth one on a 74-yard interception return.

Now, he’ll be wearing red, black and white instead of purple and gold, and hopes to help Coupeville in whatever way he can.

“I think my strengths are helping other players, tackling, and power running,” Prats said. “My goals for the season are to better myself as a player and to help the team make it to a championship.

“I also want to observe my teammates and see how they play, so I can play more efficiently with them.”

Prats, who also played basketball for Oak Harbor, enjoys “spending time with my girlfriend, playing pick-up basketball and hanging out with my friends.”

He hails “The Blind Side” as a top movie pick, and red is his favorite color — which fits nicely with his new school.

As he works with his new teammates, Prats remembers how it all began, and what drives him.

“I started playing because I’ve always loved watching football, so I wanted to play,” he said. “I enjoy going through hard times and good times with the team, through winning and losing streaks, and watching all our hard work pay off on Friday nights.”

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   Jeff Rhubottom (top, left) is joined by (clockwise from top right) Bill Jarrell, Randy Keefe and Terry (Perkins) Powell (wearing blue necklace).

Better late than never.

As I’ve constructed the one-man, semi-real shrine to excellence known as the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, I’ve zigged and I’ve zagged, plucking excellence from all decades.

And yet, I would be the first to admit, my decision-making process has always been at least slightly suspect.

Some people got in really early, and sometimes, for a thousand different reasons, some of the most qualified have been left to bide their time outside the doors of our digital hall.

Almost always it wasn’t intentional. I promise.

Today, we’re making up for that, at least a little, with the induction of four of the most talented Wolves to ever put a basketball into the bucket.

They all played multiple sports, and were standouts regardless of the season, but, with my recent deep dive into the CHS basketball records — which exist in a million little pieces — this fab four looms even larger.

So, way, way, WAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY overdue, let’s welcome Randy Keefe, Terry (Perkins) Powell, Bill Jarrell and Jeff Rhubottom to the Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find them up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, which is something they’ve always been, even if this writer has taken forever to get them enshrined.

Our first inductee, Powell, stands as one of the first true girls basketball stars in Central Whidbey history.

She led the Wolves in scoring for three consecutive seasons, tossing in 194 points in 1984-1985, 165 in the ’85-’86 campaign, then topping things off with a 314-point barrage in ’86-’87.

Working in tandem with fellow Hall o’ Famer Marlene Grasser (who netted 307 points that year), Powell was the leader of the first CHS girls hoops team to advance to the playoffs.

At the time of her graduation, Powell held the school single-season and career scoring marks for girls.

The increased pace of the game and addition of the three-point shot allowed a handful of other Wolves to eventually catch and pass her, but she remains #7 in career scoring with 673 points.

Her fellow inductees dominated in the ’70s, and the fact all three remain in the top 10 with both career and single-season scoring marks, is made more remarkable by two facts.

One, they all played before everyone and their brother got three points for hitting a shot behind the arc, and two, they suited up at a time when ninth graders either didn’t play high school basketball or were firmly affixed to the very end of the bench by their coaches.

That didn’t stop any of the three, though.

Keefe and Jarrell’s high school hoops careers ran from the ’73-’74 season (their sophomore campaign) through a journey to the state tourney in ’75-’76 as seniors.

One was maybe the most consistent scorer in school history, while the other caught his buddy at the end with a season for the ages.

CHS boys basketball has played 100 seasons (1917-2017), and Keefe owns two of the 10 best single season performances.

He rattled home 293 points as a sophomore, 398 as a junior (#7 all-time) and 397 as a senior (#8 all-time), leaving him with 1,088 points, third-best in program history.

Only two guys beat him, Jeff Stone (1137) and Mike Bagby (1104), and Stone had to throw down an Island-record 644 points as a senior to assure that, while Bagby, playing in the modern era, got a full four years as a varsity starter.

Jarrell didn’t come out of the gate quite as quickly as his running mate, settling for 83 points as a sophomore, fifth-best on that year’s team.

Then, something clicked and he went off for 357 points as a junior and 415 as a senior.

Snapping Keefe’s two-year run as team scoring champ, Jarrell’s senior heroics stand as the fifth-best single-season performance, and his 855 points lands him at #10 on the career list.

That ’75-’76 squad was one of the best the school ever had, and, along with the hot-shooting senior duo of Keefe and Jarrell, the Wolves got a huge contribution from a rampaging 6-foot-4 sophomore named Rhubottom.

He pounded away for 228 points as a sophomore, then took on even more of the scoring load over the next two seasons.

Rhubottom knocked down 325 as a junior (backing up Foster Faris, who went off for 348), then unleashed a beat-down as a senior.

By the time he was finished with the ’77-’78 season, Rhubottom had 459 points, which remains the second-best single season in school history, boys or girls, trailing just Stone’s once-in-a-century performance.

His 1012 career points will have him sitting #4 on that list when CHS raises a basketball record board.

Now, of course, we haven’t talked about the hundreds upon hundreds of rebounds hauled down, the assists doled out, the steals made off, or all the small plays this four-pack made.

But, even just talking about their scoring ability, it’s easy to see why Powell, Keefe, Jarrell and Rhubottom remain among the biggest stars to ever grace the CHS hardwood.

Hall o’ Famers, one and all, even if they had to wait way too long for it to be “official.”

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   Hunter Smith singed the nets for 332 points last season, the best performance by a Wolf boy since 2009. (John Fisken photo)

300 is a magical number.

You win 300 games as a Major League Baseball pitcher, you’re almost certain to be bound for Cooperstown.

Roll a 300 on the bowling lanes, and you are el perfecto.

And how many Spartans did Leonides need to hold the line against Xerxes? Yep, you’re getting it.

When we turn to high school basketball, 300 holds up. Score that many points in a season, which usually ranges from 20-27 games, and you had a great year.

While 400 points in a season is truly rarefied air, and 200 still very solid, 300 sits as a nice way to mark the gold standard, so that’s what we’re doing today.

Look at the history of Coupeville High School (100 years of boys teams and 43 of girls) and 300 points in a season has been achieved 56 times, by 41 athletes.

Boys hold the edge (42-14 in seasons and 32-9 in players), though Brianne King is the only CHS hoops star to achieve the feat three times.

While 13 other players (10 boys, three girls) have two 300-point seasons, King is also the lone Wolf to crack 400 points in a single campaign twice.

Some other facts to sprinkle into your next halftime conversation:

Twice, three Wolf boys have topped the mark during the same season.

1975-176 gave us Bill Jarrell (415), Randy Keefe (397) and Marc Bissett (302) while ’78-’79 featured Wade Ellsworth (392), Roy Marti (342) and Steve Whitney (337).

And yet, neither one of those CHS squads holds the single-season team scoring mark, which belongs to the ’69-’70 team led by Jeff Stone’s single-season record 644 points.

Those Wolves, the first Whidbey hoops team to win a district title, had five guys hit 200+ points (though only Stone cracked 300) en route to pouring in 1,815 points in 24 games.

On the girls side of the ball, there has been three times when a duo netted 300+ in the same year, with one of those times coming dangerously close to hitting the trifecta.

The ’86-’87 squad, the first girls team to make the playoffs, got 314 from Terry Perkins, 307 from Marlene Grasser and (just missing) 274 from Tina Barker.

Zenovia Barron and Ann Pettit also torched the nets together in back-to-back years, first in ’96-’97 (Novi 378, Ann 317) and ’97-’98 (Novi 376, Ann 363).

And while 300 is the magic mark, you have to give a brief shout-out to Tina Lyness (’99-’00) and Megan Smith (’09-’10), who came up one slim point short, each tallying 299 in a season.

Though, don’t feel too bad for Smith, who is on our list for a different season.

Also earning “close but no cigar” status are Pat O’Grady (296 in ’69-’70) and Lexie Black (295 in ’04-05).

But, we’re here to hail those who did achieve 300-point nirvana, the scorers and the dreamers, the best single-season performers in CHS hoops history:

(644) Jeff Stone ’69-’70
(459) Jeff Rhubottom ’77-’78
(446) Brianne King ’00-’01
(442) Brianne King ’02-’03
(442) Pete Petrov ’95-’96
(427) Makana Stone ’15-’16
(423) Arik Garthwaite ’97-’98
(415) Bill Jarrell ’75-’76
(414) Mike Bagby ’04-’05
(398) Randy Keefe ’74-’75
(397) Randy Keefe ’75-’76
(396) Brad Sherman ’02-’03
(392) Wade Ellsworth ’78-’79
(391) Del O’Shell ’81-’82
(388) Bill Riley ’72-’73
(388) Joe Whitney ’79-’80
(386) Brianne King ’01-’02
(386) Bill Riley ’71-’72
(380) Cody Peters ’08-’09
(378) Zenovia Barron ’96-’97
(376) Zenovia Barron ’97-’98
(374) Gavin Keohane ’97-’98
(367) Makana Stone ’14-’15
(365) Denny Clark ’63-’64
(364) Mike Bagby ’05-’06
(363) Ann Pettit ’97-’98
(357) Bill Jarrell ’74-’75
(355) Gabe McMurray ’94-’95
(348) Foster Faris ’76-’77
(345) Timm Orsborn ’87-’88
(342) Roy Marti ’78-’79
(341) Virgil Roehl ’92-’93
(340) Pat Bennett ’99-’00
(337) Steve Whitney ’78-’79
(333) Corey Cross ’70-’71
(332) Hunter Smith ’16-’17
(331) Amanda Allmer ’94-’95
(328) Rich Morris ’95-’96
(327) Megan Smith ’08-’09
(325) Jeff Rhubottom ’76-’77
(319) Denny Clark ’62-’63
(319) Randy Duggan ’71-’72
(319) Chris Good ’01-’02
(317) Ann Pettit ’96-’97
(317) Jeff Stone ’68-’69
(314) Terry Perkins ’86-’87
(313) Dan Nieder ’87-’88
(312) Judy Marti ’83-’84
(310) Tom Sahli ’52-’53
(309) Rich Morris ’96-’97
(307) Marlene Grasser ’86-’87
(305) Allen Black ’03-’04
(305) Chris Good ’00-’01
(302) Marc Bissett ’75-’76
(302) Hunter Hammer ’09-’10
(300) Gavin Keohane ’98-’99

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