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Jason McFadyen, shooting during an alumni game, made an auspicious debut for CHS basketball during the 1988-89 season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was the season after THE season.

The 1987-1988 Coupeville High School boys basketball team finished 19-6, won 12 straight games at one point, and went to the state tourney.

Then, everyone graduated.

Well, not totally everyone, but close.

When the 1988-1989 hoops season rolled around, there were only three returning players from the 13 who had scored a season before.

Tony Ford, who was the #6 scorer for the state-bound team, was back for his senior year, while Chad Nixon and Jason Legat, who each banked home a single bucket in 87-88, were also still around.

While the latter duo only combined for 16 points in 88-89, Ford seized his opportunity and scored much of his team’s buckets during his final go-round.

In fact, his 276 points, which gave him 432 for his prep career, was more than the next three Wolves combined to score that season.

Sophomore Jason McFadyen rattled home his first 122 varsity points in 88-89, the start of a 654-point career which has him sitting at #24 all-time in Wolf boys history.

But he was the only other CHS player to top 70 points that season, as the new-look Wolves struggled at times on the offensive end of the floor.

So, why is this all important?

For several reasons — the biggest being I have the scorebook from that 88-89 season, followed by we’re in a pandemic that has shut down games for nine months, and I need stuff to write about.

Plus, in the middle of an otherwise so-so season, Ford delivered one of the great single-game performances in program history.

So, let’s flip open the book and go back to a time when Wolf coach Ron Bagby still prowled the sidelines.

 

Sultan 37, Coupeville 16

Game one didn’t get off to a great start, as the Wolves were blanked 12-0 through the first eight minutes.

Improbably, CHS actually was within striking distance after three quarters of play, using a defensive lockdown to carve the deficit (slightly) back to 19-10.

But it wasn’t to be, as Sultan nearly doubled its point total with an 18-point eruption in the final frame, with six players scoring.

Coupeville’s leading scorer on opening night? Dean Grasser with a fairly-quiet six points.

 

Lopez 51, Coupeville 34

An improvement, with the Wolves down just 19-16 at the half.

Lopez had three guys finish with double-digit scoring, though, and that trio combined to score 30 of their 45 after the break, busting things open.

Ford did his best to counter, dropping in 10 of his team-high 13 in the second half, but his teammates only combined for eight points during the same time frame.

 

La Conner 52, Coupeville 17

Yep, not much to say about this one.

 

Darrington 64, Coupeville 30

Well, Ford banged home 18 points, so there was that, but the Wolves fell to 0-4.

 

Coupeville 56, Concrete 44

Best game of the season, and the best half Ford played in a CHS uniform.

When the teams went to the break, Coupeville held a 22-15 advantage, with Jesse Smith and Wayne Hardie each having tallied four points.

After halftime, it was Ford time, as the lanky gunner went off for 22 of his 28 points down the stretch.

All of his scoring came off of old-school two-point buckets, as he missed the one and only free throw attempt he had that night, and Coupeville went without a three-point bomb for the fourth time in five games.

 

Orcas Island 54, Coupeville 38

This one was knotted 31-31 heading into the fourth quarter, then the roof caved in on the Wolves.

Seven different Orcas players scored during a 23-7 run across the final eight minutes, putting a damper on a 25-point performance from Ford.

Having ended the previous game on a tear, he picked right back up, notching 15 of those points in the first half.

 

Friday Harbor 57, Coupeville 39

Fun fact – McFadyen, who, remember, would finish as this team’s #2 scorer, didn’t get his first points until game #7 of the season.

This was his fourth appearance, and, like the other three games, the young gun played in just the fourth quarter.

But this time he went off, dropping a pair of three-balls en route to an eight-point quarter, making him Coupeville’s leading scorer for the night.

Entering this game, CHS had connected on just one three-point shot all season, but with McFadyen’s two-fer and a deep bomb by Frank Marti, things were changing.

At least a bit.

 

Coupeville 38, Crescent 36

McFadyen played in two quarters this time, but didn’t score.

Ford, after tallying nine points in the first quarter, was held to a single bucket over the next 24 minutes.

The Wolves went back to hitting no three-balls.

But, they still won, thanks to a 10-8 fourth-quarter edge in which Brandy Ambrose (4), Grasser (4), and John Zimmerman (2) came up big.

 

Foster 71, Coupeville 43

Ford tossed in 20, but the other team had four guys hit for double-digits.

 

Sultan 49, Coupeville 44

Not as close as it looks, as the Wolves needed a 17-6 run in the fourth to narrow things.

Finally given the chance to play a full four quarters at the varsity level, McFadyen tossed in a team-high 17 points, including a pair of three-balls, while Ford was the perfect complement, banking home 16.

 

Watson-Groen 52, Coupeville 30

Down 17-4 at the first break, things didn’t get much better for the Wolves, who were led by Ford’s 15.

 

La Conner 59, Coupeville 31

Close first half, not so close second half.

Clinging to a 24-21 advantage at the break, La Conner went on a 35-10 run after that, negating another solid night by Ford, who filled the scorebook with 18 points.

 

Darrington 73, Coupeville 52

Trailing by 30 after three, the Wolves closed strongly with a 22-13 advantage in the final quarter.

McFadyen hit for 17, Ford 16, and, after nailing just seven three-balls on the season, Coupeville netted six in one game here.

Five of them came off of the fingertips of their hot-shooting sophomore stud.

 

Coupeville 50, Concrete 43

Back in the win column in what must have been a wild one.

Up by seven heading into the fourth, the Wolves frittered the entire lead away, then redeemed themselves in overtime.

Tied 43-43 at the end of regulation, CHS held its hosts scoreless in the extra frame, making the long bus trip home with Bagby more pleasant than it might have been with a total collapse.

McFadyen, Marti, and Ford combined for Coupeville’s final seven points, with Ford topping all scorers on the night with 18.

 

Orcas Island 54, Coupeville 47

The first time these teams met, it was tied after three quarters. This time CHS was up by a bucket headed into the fourth.

But, once again, the Wolves fell short against Orcas, despite 18 (with four treys) from McFadyen.

 

Coupeville 49, Lopez 43

Revenge, as the Wolves avenged an earlier loss to Lopez by suddenly becoming fourth-quarter aces.

Down 35-34 on the road, CHS closed on a 15-8 tear, with McFadyen scoring seven of his game-high 18 in the final frame.

He got help from Hardie (4), Marti (2), and Ford (2) down the stretch, with Ford once again busting double digits with a 15-point night.

 

Friday Harbor 67, Coupeville 41

The visitors got points from all 11 players on their roster and pulled away early.

One bright spot for Coupeville came when Sean Dillon connected on his first varsity three-ball, a precursor of what was to come as he rattled home 469 career points as a Wolf, putting him #48 in program history.

 

Watson-Groen 67, Coupeville 54

Ford pumped in 24, his third-best total on the season, and McFadyen singed the nets for three more treys, but the visitors led from start to finish.

Leading the way for Watson-Groen was Brad Francisco, who torched the joint for 26, the most scored by any Wolf rival that season.

 

And thus the campaign ended, with 4-14 a step back after a trip to state.

But, the path for future success was set.

During the 89-90 season, six Wolves scored 100 or more points, the first time the program reached that mark in a decade.

The next season, the 90-91 team had four players top 200, with a fifth missing by just six points.

McFadyen led the Wolves in scoring both those seasons, while Marti, Dillon, and Ben Biskovich, who joined the varsity in 89-90, all topped 400 career points.

 

Varsity scoring totals for the 88-89 season:

Tony Ford – 276
Jason McFadyen – 122
Dean Grasser  68
Frank Marti – 64
Brandy Ambrose – 54
Wayne Hardie – 35
John Zimmerman – 34
Jesse Smith – 18
Chad Nixon – 14
Sean Dillon – 11
Ed Cook – 6
Duane Score – 6
Jason Legat – 2

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

Longer history, smaller inner circle.

Sorta.

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:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/2020-10-08-CHS-BBB-practice/

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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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