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Senior Grady Rickner won the Hard Hat Player of the Year award Monday as Coupeville High School boys basketball capped its best season in decades. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

First the hard work, now the hardware.

Coupeville High School basketball players and coaches capped off the program’s most-successful season in decades Monday, handing out letters and awards at a team banquet.

Dodging frequent Covid tests, and adapting to an ever-changing schedule, the Wolves soared.

Coupeville’s varsity finished 16-2, won its first league title since 2002, claimed a district crown for the first time since 1970, and advanced to state for the first time since 1988.

While the JV didn’t reach those same win totals, the Wolf young guns showed considerable promise and were competitive every time out.

Xavier Murdy headlined the awards banquet, taking home team MVP honors, while Caleb Meyer and Alex Murdy were honored as Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.

Grady Rickner closed out his prep hoops career by taking home the Hard Hat Player of the Year award.

That honor goes to a Wolf who “embodies the hard hat mentality,” said CHS head coach Brad Sherman. “Hard work, dedication to the little things, commitment to being a great teammate every day.”

Hawthorne Wolfe, a four-year varsity starter who finished with 800 career points, received “Mr. Basketball 2018-2022” honors.

“This recognition goes to an individual who showed an exceptional commitment to the Coupeville basketball program throughout their basketball career,” Sherman said.

“This is a person who is Coupeville basketball through and through.”

Hawthorne Wolfe finishes as the #14 scorer in the 105-year history of Coupeville boys basketball.

Xavier Murdy and Rickner were also honored for their work as varsity captains, while the duo joined Logan Martin, Miles Davidson, and Wolfe as four-year players.

At the JV level, Zane Oldenstadt (Hard Hat), Ryan Blouin (Offensive Player), and Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim (Defensive Player) were honored.

Oldenstadt and Nick Guay were noted for their work as JV captains, while David Somes was recognized for everything he did as team manager.

Zane Oldenstadt is a star today, and likely a star tomorrow.

Rounding out the awards, Sherman and assistant coaches Greg White, Hunter Smith, Randy Bottorff, and Arik Garthwaite also hailed a trio of behind-the-scenes stars.

Courtney Pilgrim for her continued commitment and hard work for the team year in and year out,” Sherman said.

Dan Verduzco, our custodian, for always making sure we have the best facilities anywhere and for the constant support and encouragement he gives to our athletes, and Phil Jump, our bus driver, for taking us to every corner of the state this season.”

 

Varsity letter winners:

Dominic Coffman
Logan Downes
Logan Martin
Caleb Meyer
Alex Murdy
Xavier Murdy
Grady Rickner
Jonathan Valenzuela
Cole White
Hawthorne Wolfe

 

Varsity participation certificates:

Hunter Bronec
Nick Guay
Zane Oldenstadt

 

JV participation certificates:

Ryan Blouin
Hunter Bronec
Hurlee Bronec
William Davidson
Carson Field
Nick Guay
Zane Oldenstadt
Jack Porter
Johnny Porter
Landon Roberts
Mikey Robinett
Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim

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Caleb Meyer is one of six Wolf boys to top 100 points this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They can sting you from every direction.

One huge reason for the 14-0 start put together by the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball team is the way the Wolves share the scoring load.

Six of 10 players have topped 100 points, something only achieved 12 other times by CHS boys teams over the past 105 seasons.

It’s the first time the mark has been reached since the 2009-2010 campaign.

But what about putting seven players into triple-digit scoring?

It’s never happened for the CHS boys, though the 1974-1975 team came remarkably close, with Foster Faris, the #7 scoring option that year, rattling the rims for 95 points.

Heading into the regular season finale Thursday at La Conner, here’s where the current top Coupeville gunners sit:

 

Xavier Murdy – 196
Caleb Meyer – 152
Logan Downes – 141
Alex Murdy – 121
Grady Rickner – 108
Hawthorne Wolfe – 106

 

And here’s how that compares to previous CHS boys teams to reach the mark:

 

1960-1961:

Jim Yake – 247
Vance Huffman – 203
Noel Criscuola
– 162
Mike Millenbach
– 148
Utz Conard
– 127
Pat Millenbach
– 126

 

1968-1969:

Jeff Stone – 317
Eric Hopkins – 194
Jerry VandWerfhorst – 177
Pat O’Grady – 164
Alan Hancock – 153
Pat Brown – 121

 

1969-1970:

Jeff Stone – 644
Pat O’Grady – 296
Pat Brown – 220
Corey Cross – 211
Tim Quenzer – 202
Glenn Losey – 143

 

1970-1971:

Corey Cross – 333
Mike Mallo – 274
Randy Duggan – 233
Glenn Losey – 192
Bill Riley – 160
Jim Syreen – 156

 

1974-1975:

Randy Keefe – 398
Bill Jarrell – 357
Marc Bissett – 206
Mike Ankney – 173
Scott Franzen – 129
Ron Naddy – 103

 

1979-1980:

Joe Whitney – 388
Wade Ellsworth – 267
Roy Marti – 193
Shawn Ryan – 154
Keith Jameson – 139
Chris Marti – 107

 

1989-1990:

Jason McFadyen – 271
Ben Biskovich
– 213
Sean Dillon
– 200
Frank Marti
– 177
Wayne Hardie
– 143
Jesse Smith
– 111

 

1993-1994:

Brad Miller – 238
Gabe McMurray – 235
Chris Cox – 157
Virgil Roehl – 141
Kit Manzanares – 123
Boom Phomvongkoth – 100

 

1995-1996:

Pete Petrov – 442
Rich Morris – 328
Greg White – 194
Nick Sellgren – 190
Arik Garthwaite – 176
Mike Vaughan – 162

 

1996-1997:

Rich Morris – 309
Pete Petrov – 274
Nick Sellgren – 216
Arik Garthwaite – 159
Greg White – 131
Mike Vaughan – 109

 

2007-2008:

Kramer O’Keefe – 235
Brian Miller – 189
Alex Evans – 174
Zepher Loesch – 151
Cody Peters – 138
James Smith – 111

 

2009-2010:

Hunter Hammer – 302
Jason Bagby – 288
JD Wilcox – 161
Chad Brookhouse – 147
Ian Smith – 119
Tim Walstad – 109

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Alex Murdy was dynamic on both ends of the floor Friday as Coupeville survived an overtime thriller to get to 14-0. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Playoffs? We’re talking about playoffs.

Taking the court without two starters Friday — thanks to Covid protocols — the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball squad survived its biggest gut-check of the season, while moving a step closer to realizing a lot of big goals.

Despite not hitting a field goal in the fourth quarter, the Wolves forced overtime on a pair of Alex Murdy free throws, then held off highly combative Friday Harbor 56-53.

The road win lifts Coupeville to 10-0 in Northwest 2B/1B League play, 14-0 overall.

The only unbeaten team left in 2B has one more regular season game left to play — a road trip to La Conner Feb. 10 — then heads to the postseason.

With Friday’s victory, Coupeville clinches one of the two playoff spots available to 2B teams from the NWL.

Beat La Conner, or have the Braves lose to Friday Harbor Feb. 8, and CHS earns the #1 seed.

That would send the Wolves directly to the district title game Feb. 17 — a tilt which will be played on their home court — while also clinching the program’s first trip to state since 1988.

Friday’s royal rumble in a frenzied gym perfectly captured what has made this Coupeville team shine so brightly.

The three-point margin of victory was the smallest of the season, and only the third time an opponent has come within single digits of the Wolves.

But it will stand as maybe Coupeville’s defining moment, as the Wolves absorbed every body blow and got back off the canvas to deliver the night’s final roundhouse in stirring fashion.

Living in the Age of Coronavirus, with three Covid tests a week making it all but impossible to field a full roster most days, Wolf coach Brad Sherman has seen seven of his 10 regular varsity players miss at least one game this season.

Friday night was no different, with Caleb Meyer and Logan Downes sidelined.

But once again, the Wolves seem to live by a simple mantra — if you’re in uniform, it’s your turn in the spotlight. Find a way to win, no matter the odds.

Coupeville could have cracked, probably should have fallen apart as an eight-point lead slipped away late.

But not now, not this season.

Friday Harbor closed the third with a 3-0 mini-surge, then stuffed the Wolves 7-0 over the first seven minutes and two seconds of what we assumed was the final frame.

Trailing 45-43, unable to get a shot to drop from any angle, playing in front of a vocal, testy road crowd, Coupeville needed a spark.

So it turned where it always does — to its defense.

Five Wolves firing as one, attacking, pressing, relentlessly pressuring, making their own luck through hard work and gut-busting intensity.

And, playing on their aunt Mandi Black’s birthday, the marauding Murdy boys made the magic happen.

Xavier yanked a steal out of midair, and flipped the ball to his younger brother, who crashed to the hoop hard (the only way he knows) and got hammered.

Sent to the line with just 58 ticks left on the fourth quarter clock, Alex Murdy silenced the Friday Harbor crowd by calmly flicking a pair of free throws through the net, each shot a dagger to go with a slight curl of his upper lip.

Now, of course, things didn’t end there, however.

The final 50+ seconds of regulation produced no points, while giving everyone in the gym free unlimited angina.

Friday Harbor had a player dribble a ball off his foot, then later missed a three-ball which could have been devastating.

Meanwhile, Xavier Murdy came up with an epic rebound to end Friday Harbor’s final hope, outmuscling two rivals while Wolf fans screamed loud enough to be heard in Bangladesh.

Coupeville fired off a good shot at the buzzer, hoping to claim a walk-off win, but it wouldn’t fall. Mainly because this was the type of game which was fated to go to overtime.

Once in the extra period, the Wolves jumped out in front, never surrendering the lead after Grady Rickner put a rebound back up and in to open things.

Free throws from Xavier Murdy and Logan Martin kept Friday Harbor at bay, while Hawthorne Wolfe slashed through the defense for a twisting layup to stake CHS to a 55-51 lead.

But remember that angina we spoke of earlier?

It resurfaced, after Friday Harbor sliced the margin to 55-53, before BOTH teams missed the front end of one-and-one free throw opportunities with less than 10 seconds to play.

Enter the Wolf defense and exit the angina — at least for one coach.

Coupeville pressured Friday Harbor so badly the Wolverines threw away the ball with 3.4 seconds to play.

Which was immediately followed by the coup de grâce — the host team being whistled for a technical foul after one of its players viciously slammed the ball into the wall in frustration.

Wolfe slipped one last dagger through the net to set the final margin, before he and his teammates played keep-away on the inbounds play, sending one section of fans home happy.

Spoiler: it wasn’t the Friday Harbor fans.

CHS boys varsity coach Brad Sherman (left) discusses strategy with fellow hoops gurus Alex Evans and Scott Fox.

The anxiety-soaked finale capped a game which didn’t go the way most Coupeville contests have this season.

The Wolves trailed for much of the first half, falling behind by as much as 10 points in the opening quarter.

Back-to-back buckets to end the first frame made things a bit closer at 15-9, but Friday Harbor immediately stretched the deficit back out, with the Wolves not claiming the lead until right before the half.

Logan Martin came up huge in the second quarter, shifting from being a rebound-first player to knocking down buckets on his way to seven points in the period.

He tickled the twines on a midrange jumper, with the shot set up by a Cole White feed, giving CHS its first lead at 25-23, then immediately scored again right before the buzzer.

After playing from behind, the Wolves led throughout the third quarter, twice running their advantage out to eight points.

The first time came after Rickner and Wolfe converted back-to-back steals into breakaway buckets, with Rickner getting above the rim for Coupeville’s first legitimate in-game dunk in several seasons.

But each time the Wolves seemed to be set to bust things open, Friday Harbor, which has been a thorn in Coupeville’s side, stayed tough.

Of course, as the final result showed, there’s tough and then there’s Coupeville tough.

Mixing in jumpers and slashes to the hoop to go with his dunk, Rickner popped for a team-high 15 points, while Xavier Murdy banked in 12, and Alex Murdy deposited 10.

Martin (9), Wolfe (7), and White (a big early three-ball) also scored, with Dominic Coffman giving the Wolves a burst of energy off the bench.

With his performance Friday, Rickner breaks into the 200-point club.

With 202 career points and counting, he’s one of four active CHS players to reach the mark, joining fellow seniors Wolfe (768) and Xavier Murdy (417), as well as junior Maddie Georges (234).

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Xavier Murdy and Co. will celebrate Senior Night Jan. 19. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The schedule shuffle continues.

Senior Night festivities for the Coupeville High School basketball teams have been moved to this coming week, with events set for different days.

Under the new plan, the Wolf boys will honor their 12th graders Wednesday, Jan. 19, when they host Friday Harbor.

Tip-off for the CHS varsity boys that night is 5:30 PM.

Meanwhile, Coupeville’s girls will conduct their farewells Saturday, Jan. 22, when they host South Whidbey.

Varsity tip-off against the Falcons is 2:45.

Ja’Kenya Hoskins, Izzy Wells, Audrianna Shaw, and Abby Mulholland comprise the Class of 2022 players who suit up for the Wolves.

The boys team will honor Xavier Murdy, Miles Davidson, Logan Martin, Grady Rickner, Hawthorne Wolfe, and Caleb Meyer, as well as the late Bennett Boyles, who waged a valiant battle with cancer when the group was in middle school.

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Logan Downes dodges the defense. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Big games, big wins, big photos.

The Coupeville High School varsity basketball teams swept to resounding victories Friday against visiting Darrington, and wanderin’ photographer John Fisken was there to capture the moments.

The pics above and below are courtesy him.

To see everything he shot, and ponder the possibility of buying some glossies for the grandparents, pop over to:

 

Girls:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2021-2022/GBB-2021-12-10-vs-Darrington/

 

Boys:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Basketball-2021-2022/BBB-2021-12-10-vs-Darrington/

 

All hail Gwen Gustafson.

The Wolf defense digs in.

Grady Rickner rumbles in the paint.

Logan Martin holds his ground.

Abby Mulholland powers her way to a bucket.

Brad Sherman (crouching) lays out his master plan.

Savina Wells soars above and beyond.

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