Archive for the ‘Boys Basketball’ Category

CHS hoops star Jack Elzinga kept his hair short and the nets jumpin’.

Longer history, smaller inner circle.


While the Coupeville High School girls basketball program didn’t kick off until 1974-1975, the Wolf boys have been throwing up buckets since 1917.

And throwing away their stat sheets almost from day one.

As I’ve attempted to compile complete scoring stats for CHS basketball, the boys side of things has been far more frustrating.

With the Wolf girls, I have pretty on-target individual totals for every season except the inaugural one, which the local newspaper and the school yearbook both essentially ignored.

Now, the boys…

I can tell you Roy Armstrong dropped in a team-high 80 points during the 1924-1925 season, thanks to an incredibly-detailed (and thick!) yearbook.

Other than that, from 1917 — where I have come up with a complete roster, just no stats — to 1954, I have been able to track down individual scoring totals for just three other seasons.

Once we get to the 1954-1955 season, we’re golden though, as I’ve charted every season successfully from there up through 2019-2020.

So, it’s a start.

But, with so many stats lost to time, it appears we’ll never have a true CHS boys hoops scoring chart. Or, at least not one which can match the girls program.

What I do have are 391 players, from old-school beast Banky Fisher to new-school sniper Daniel Olson, who have scored at least one varsity point for the Wolves.

While seven different Coupeville girls have held their program’s individual career scoring record at some point, from Jill Whitney to current #1 Brianne King, I can only really vouch for five guys being atop their program’s mythical big board.

Even then, the first three guys I’m about to list don’t have complete career totals.

But anyway.

Until I can obtain more than the 1924-1925, 1926-1927, and 1939-1940 stat sheets, we might as well start with 1952-1953.

Tom Sahli went off for 310 points that season, so we’ll call him our first true, semi-verified career scoring champ.

Except, he also played in 1951-1952 and 1953-1954, two “missing” seasons, so who knows what his real totals are?

Not me.

In 1954-1955 Jack Elzinga erupted for 337 points, taking the title away (though maybe not), before adding 309 more points the next season to finish with 646.

Except, Elzinga also played on that 1953-1954 team with Sahli, so his totals are also off.

But anyway.

On to Mike Criscuola, who, according to our incomplete totals for his two big-name predecessors, “officially” became the school scoring champ after the 1958-1959 season.

Big Mike had racked up 674 points by then, before adding another 305 the next year as a senior to finish with 979.

Except, we know Criscuola, already the most-imposing player on the floor, played a fair amount as an 8th grader.

He’s right at the center of the team pic in the yearbook, but the point totals listed for the season omit his name.

There’s also questions about points from playoff games in later seasons being left off his season stats, so it’s not hard to believe Criscuola likely topped 1,000 points.

If we could get a time machine, go back and grab all five years of his stat sheets, it’s very possible he still is the real all-time CHS boys scoring champ.

Since we can’t, and barring someone finding a stash in an attic or basement, Criscoula handed the title off to Jeff Stone during the 1969-1970 season.

The sweet-shootin’ Stone rippled the nets for 644 points as a senior, almost 200 more than the next-best performance in school history — Jeff Rhubottom’s 459 in 1977-1978.

Having played three years, as freshmen weren’t eligible for varsity ball in the ’60s, Stone capped his prep career with 1,137 points.

That endured for 36 years, and still hasn’t fallen.

Given a chance to play a full four years, Mike Bagby did the nearly impossible, with his last point during the 2005-2006 season being the 364th of his senior campaign, and the 1,137th of his career.

The duo have remained atop the charts (with the old-school trio of Sahli, Elzinga, and Criscuola lurking in their rearview mirror) ever since, with little to worry about.

Hunter Smith made a nice run before graduating in 2018.

Ultimately, though, a lack of varsity playing time as a freshman, and a handful of later injuries, stopped him at #12 all-time, with 847 points.

Two seasons into his own career, Hawthorne Wolfe is already at #55, with 410 points, but the ongoing pandemic has put his junior season into question.

The chase goes on, for scoring records long-held and stat sheets long-buried.

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Hawthorne Wolfe leads a pack of hot-shooting Coupeville hoops stars back to the gym. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Zane Oldenstadt powers to the hoop while Nick Guay tries to deny him.

TJ Rickner lines up a shot.

Alex Jimenez looks for an opening.

Ryan Blouin spins away as Cole White plays lock-down defense.

Miles Davidson lets a rainbow fly.

Logan Martin, en fuego.

Sage Downes makes it rain.

Grady Rickner calls backboard.

One more time.

Wrapping up his wanderings through Coupeville High School sports practices, photo whiz kid John Fisken collected the pics seen above.

They capture the Wolves as they go through off-season workouts, masks and social distancing included.

If plans hold, the hoops stars will be the first prep athletes to return to games in the age of coronavirus.

The first “real” practices would go down the last week of December, with contests starting in Jan.

Or, at least that’s the hope.

For now, the Wolf coaches and players will take what they can get, when they can get it.


To see everything Fisken shot, pop over to:


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Chris Smith, always exuding a quiet confidence. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Jack of all trades, and also a master of all of them.

In his time at Coupeville High School, Chris Smith brought professionalism, superb teaching skills, and enough energy and spirit to light up a town on his own.

Not content to just take one job and be good at that, the father of three stepped into the thick of things, bouncing from season to season, always in uniform and always on point.

When he left us in the spring, Smith was the head varsity baseball coach at CHS, as well as being in charge of both the Wolf JV boys basketball and JV volleyball programs.

While it’s understandable we’ve lost him, in person at least, with the real world pulling him away from Whidbey after the graduation of his youngest child, his memory will live on for a long time.

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of coaches, some great, a few far less so, and Smith easily lands in the top tier.

He brought an energy and excitement to everything he did which carried over to the young women and men he coached, and it genuinely seemed to inspire many of them.

“Get on the bag, son, and stop givin’ me angina!”

There were big wins, and a few tough losses — coaching will always give you both — and Smith reacted, in public at least, as if both were the same.

When his squads pulled off victories, whether by rout or hard-fought comeback, he was quick to spread the love. Both to his players, and to his fellow coaches.

It was his steady hand and calm, but fiery, nature, which centered his team, but rarely does a squad win or lose because of just one person, and Smith knew that.

He was not a screamer, but he could, and did, get his athletes bouncing off the walls when needed.

And, just as often, he was that calm voice in the wilderness, reaching out to comfort and pick someone up at their lowest.

Smith is a people person, and also very adept at reading each individual he came into contact with, and adapting his approach to fit what will work best to maximize their response.

It’s what separates a decent coach from a great one, and I firmly believe he lands in the latter category.

Hanging out with Kory Score on Senior Night.

What is also unique about Smith is his ability to coach both boys and girls sports teams, subtly shifting his approach to fit whatever the situation might be.

In each sport, he brought out the best in his players, helping some of them to soar way past their abilities, and giving others hope.

That hope came because Smith was relentless in preaching a positive mind-set.

He wasn’t rah-rah just to be rah-rah.

Confidence, in himself and in his athletes, flowed out of Smith like water, and he always had a warm word or a grin and a quick joke for everyone around him.

Passing on wisdom to Hawthorne Wolfe.

Sports teams often take on the attitudes of their coaches, which meant his squads played with passion, but also with a quiet confidence.

Several of those Wolf teams had major comebacks, pulling out wins from contests which seemed to be well out of hand in the early going.

Smith didn’t need to scream, or throw clipboards, or wing a chair across the gym, Bobby Knight-style, to get the attention of his players.

He showed his young charges respect, asked for it back, and inspired them to reach great heights in a calm, reassured manner.

And then, without fail, he always sent stats and quotes to the ink-stained wretches in the press, or stopped to talk to us, giving of his time in a way which made you believe that was what mattered most to him in the moment.

Even if he was probably dog-tired and dreaming of dinner and some quiet time.

Smith (with big assistance from their mother Charlotte) gave Coupeville three of the most-talented athletes our town has seen in recent decades — sons CJ and Hunter and daughter Scout.

But then Chris also gave us his time, his expertise, and his conviction, playing a key role in building each of the Wolf programs he helped lead.

We’ll miss him, but wish him the best as he pursues new goals off-Island.

A piece of Smith will always be here in Coupeville, however.

It will show through each time one of his athletes has a big moment, finds something inside themselves they didn’t realize they had, and achieves greatness in life.

And he will also live on through this blog, since, after this, he’ll join his children up at the top of the page under the Legends tab.

The newest member of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, he exits the way he entered — a winner every step of the way.

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Nick Guay is set to make the leap from middle school sports to high school stardom. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Guay leads the charge on the soccer pitch.

Nick Guay is in it for the long haul.

As he prepares for his freshman year at Coupeville High School, the multi-sport athlete is committed to putting in the time and effort needed to continue his growth as an athlete and student.

“There is nothing you can’t stop working on,” Guay said. “(I want) to continue to be the best player I can be.”

During his middle school days, he suited up for Wolf football, soccer, and basketball teams, and he plans to keep playing the latter two sports during his time at CHS.

Guay tabs basketball as his favorite sport, is fond of the movie Harry and the Hendersons, and shows impeccable musical taste for someone of his age, opting for classic rock from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

When he’s not practicing or playing in a game, he excels in his favorite classes — math and PE — and tries to spend as much time outside as possible.

“I love the outdoors and building things,” Guay said.

As he’s come up through the ranks, he’s made a name for himself as a hard worker and a hustler, an athlete willing to do whatever his team needs.

Guay hails his various coaches, and parents Dylan and Dina, for their guidance, and he enters high school with strong, team-orientated goals.

“(I want to) build a strong and positive team,” he said. “(I want to have) hard work, a positive attitude, and chemistry with other players.”

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Zane Oldenstadt rumbles down low in the paint. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Oldenstadt and William Davidson pause for a photo op during track season. (Morgan White photo)

Zane Oldenstadt listens to his mom, and that may pay off as the world deals with a pandemic.

As Coupeville students prepare for a new school year, without knowing for sure how it will play out in the age of coronavirus, incoming freshmen have high hopes in an unsettled world.

For Oldenstadt, who plans to be a three-sport athlete at CHS, it’s a perfect time to reflect on words of wisdom from mom Michelle Glass.

“My mom’s had a huge impact in showing me how the only way things get done is through perseverance and work,” Oldenstadt said.

Whether his high school days start off in a classroom or at home in front of a computer, the outgoing 9th grader-to-be wants to make an impact in everything he does.

Oldenstadt is “very interested in marine biology, and I plan to go to college for it,” while in the arena he hopes to play football, basketball, and baseball, in whatever order the WIAA and CHS allow him to.

Being a three-sport athlete is something which comes naturally, as he played soccer and basketball, then wrapped up the school year competing in track and field during his middle school days.

He also played little league baseball.

While he enjoyed all of his sports, Oldenstadt felt most at home on the hardwood.

“Basketball, I have fun getting out there and battling on the court,” he said. “It’s a sport I never tire of, and I’m always ready to go and give it my all.”

As he makes the transition from CMS to CHS, Oldenstadt already has the height and strength to set him apart from other athletes his own age.

But he also realizes he needs to add other components to his game if he wants to be successful at a higher level.

“I think my athleticism at my size really stands out,” Oldenstadt said. “But I’d still like to work on overall quickness.

“My goal in high school sports is to better myself and the teams I play on through hard work and commitment.”

When he’s not playing sports, Oldenstadt enjoys listening to music.

In an uncertain world, though, athletic activity is key to his happiness.

“Sports helps me cope with stress or anything else that’s bothering me,” he said. “It’s nice just to go and focus all your energy on trying to win something.”

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