Posts Tagged ‘1917’

   The late, great Mike Criscuola, AKA “Strong Mike,” who scored 979 points between 1956-1960, fifth-most by a Wolf boys basketball player.

   A who’s-who of guys who could singe a net. Clockwise, from top left, Jeff Stone, Michael Bagby, Randy Keefe, Jeff Rhubottom, Bill Riley, Pete Petrov, Brad Sherman, Denny Clark, Arik Garthwaite, Bill Jarell.

Did I mention there will be cake?

One week from today — Friday, Jan. 19 — Coupeville High School celebrates the 101st anniversary of boys basketball, and everyone associated with the program is invited to return.

The Wolves host Chimacum in an Olympic League clash that night (JV 3:30, varsity 5:15), and the date is the same one on which the first hoops game in school history was played.

That happened way back on Jan. 19, 1917, when CHS pounded Langley 29-7 (forever giving the South End an inferiority complex).

This time around, every former and current Wolf boys basketball player, coach, manager, stats keeper, ticket taker, cheerleader and fan can (and should) join the festivities.

When you show up, there will be commemorative ID stickers for everyone to write their names on, reunion-style, so everyone can more easily pretend that yes, they really did recognize all their former teammates.

The game program is going far beyond the normal rosters, schedule and school fight song.

It will feature info on that first game in 1917, the immortal 1969-1970 squad which was the first Whidbey Island basketball team to win a district title (and still holds all the school scoring records), and a look at the top 15 career scorers.

While current Wolf senior Hunter Smith is at #17 (695 points) and climbing fast, the 15 in the program will be:

Jeff Stone (1137)
Mike Bagby
Randy Keefe
Jeff Rhubottom
Mike Criscuola
Bill Riley
Pete Petrov
Brad Sherman
Denny Clark
Arik Garthwaite
Bill Jarrell
Corey Cross
Barry Brown
Hunter Hammer
Steve Whitney

Halftime will feature recognition of the ’69-’70 team and the Top 15, and things really get hoppin’ post-game.

Eagle-eyed photographer John Fisken will attempt to capture the ultimate “team” photo, with every former Wolf in attendance gathered down on the hardwood, then current basketball moms will host a reception in the health room.

That’s just a few steps outside the gym doors, on your right as you head to the exit inside the facility.

It’s easy to find, as it’s right across from the ticket table.

If nothing else, you can follow the smell of cake. I know I always do.

And the most important thing to remember is this — it doesn’t matter if you were All-League or a bench warmer, if you filled up the stat sheet or can count the number of minutes you played on one hand.

If you were involved with Wolf boys basketball in any way, you are part of the history of the program, and we want to see you at the CHS gym next Friday.

It’s a night to honor those who came before, to show them they are not forgotten and their accomplishments still mean something. And it’s a night to honor the present and future.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, you are all brothers of the round-ball. Never forget that.

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   The first basketball team in Coupeville High School history. (Photo courtesy Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times)

It was a different time and a different game.

This Wednesday marks the 100-year (and six-month) anniversary of the first official basketball game in Coupeville High School history.

While CHS became a school in 1900 and graduated its first class (of three seniors) in 1904, the school waited until Jan. 19, 1917 to take an official stab at the game James Naismith invented in 1891.

Coupeville, under the direction of coach J.H. Hallock, blistered visiting Langley 29-7 that day, kicking off an inaugural season in which it went 7-3.

We can’t call them the Wolves, since that name didn’t get attached until years later — yearbooks from the ’20s refer to the school’s teams as the Cards — but they played like a ferocious pack.

According to stories in the Whidbey News-Times, the standout player on the six-player roster was Ed Kennedy, who led CHS to four straight Island County Championships during his playing days.

At a time when the pace of the game was far different from today, and scores were often equally muted, Kennedy would routinely score half of Coupeville’s output.

If you look at the photo above you can get a look at the high-scoring (for the time) center/forward in his later days, when he returned for the opening of Coupeville’s new gym in 1979.

Back in 1917, when Kennedy and his teammates were young lads, they waged war in a new gym of their own, referred to as a “play pavilion.”

Apparently it was so drafty fans kept their coats on while watching games, and the lighting in the joint was courtesy gas lanterns suspended from the ceiling on cables.

The floor was built from planks, and frequently gave players splinters if they were unfortunate enough to come in contact with it.

“I still have scars on my knees from that fir floor,” Kennedy is quoted as saying, while chuckling, in ’79.

Today, in memory of the seven who started our town’s long and successful basketball legacy, we’re doing two things.

One, we’re inducting them into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, a chance to be immortalized in an internet world they never imagined.

Inducted, as a team:

Fred Barrett
Altus Custer
Ed Fisher
Ben Gaskill
Clarence Keith
Ed Kennedy
J.H. Hallock

And, secondly, by weird coincidence, when the next boys basketball season rolls around, Coupeville is slated to have a home game against Chimacum Jan. 19, 2018.

So, I’m putting the call out to Wolf hoop coaches Brad Sherman and Chris Smith and CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith — we need to mark the moment.

Whether you want to do something big — find the oldest surviving Wolf basketball stars and bring them back for a reunion — or simply put a note in that night’s game program (heck, I’ll write one for you!), we need to celebrate the 101-year anniversary of Coupeville High School basketball.

When it comes to promotions, some things are just a slam dunk, and this is one of them.

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