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Hawthorne Wolfe (far right) banked in nine points Tuesday, moving closer to being Coupeville’s highest-scoring freshman boy in 102 years. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

There were a couple highlights.

Now, they were few and far between, which is often what happens when you’re a team in rebuilding mode and your opponent firmly believes, and plays like, it can win a state title.

But they were there.

The scoreboard will tell you the King’s High School boys basketball squad stormed into Coupeville’s gym Tuesday and ran away with a 76-31 win.

Which is not a surprise.

The ninth-straight win for the Knights, it lifts them to 8-0 in North Sound Conference play, and, combined with South Whidbey’s loss to Sultan, clinches the league crown.

But rest assured King’s is thinking about more than a conference title.

At 14-4 overall, with losses only to 4A Glacier Peak, 2A schools Lynden and Lakewood and California power Corona del Mar, the Knights, a team who can start an entire five-man lineup of players 6-foot-5 or taller, wants the big banner.

Whether they can get past fellow 1A juggernaut Lynden Christian (17-0) and its star, University of Michigan recruit Cole Bajema, is a question for another day.

On this day, they looked big, quick, polished, reeking of basketball smarts and with few, if any, weak links.

Unlike previous years, they don’t necessarily have a superstar (though their 6’7 freshman is on his way), but when every single player on the roster can hurt you, badly, spreading scoring out isn’t a bad thing.

Coupeville, by contrast, is 1-6 in league play, 2-12 overall, and trying to hold off Granite Falls (0-7, 2-14) for the fifth, and final, NSC playoff spot.

Its leading scorer is a freshman, it lists only one player over 6’2, and it lost six of last year’s seven top scorers to graduation.

Things are a work in progress for CHS head coach Brad Sherman, and assistants Chris Smith and Scott Fox.

And yet, other than a first quarter where the film should be burned to protect the innocent, the Wolves stepped up and showed they can be competitive, can push good teams and go down swinging against great ones.

All we’ll say about the opening eight minutes is the Wolves looked unusually flustered, perhaps allowing a big name on the opposing jersey to put them off their game.

With King’s shredding Coupeville’s last nerve with its press, the Knights threw down easy bucket after easier bucket en route to a 31-1 advantage at the first break.

It was ugly, plain and simple.

But, after that, Sherman seemed to get through to his players, to remind them this was nothing new, that they had played King’s before and could have some success if they did what they knew had worked.

While there was no great comeback brewing, the Wolves did stay much more competitive after that, only being outscored 21-13 in the second quarter.

Jered Brown, who accounted for Coupeville’s lone point in the first quarter, opened the second with a jumper and that helped ignite the offense.

The Wolves tossed in a trio of three-balls in the quarter, two from Mason Grove and a third by Gavin Knoblich, while Ulrik Wells stroked a sweet pull-up jumper which cleared the outstretched fingertips of one of King’s big bangers.

The second half belonged to freshman Hawthorne Wolfe, who bounced and skidded around for all nine of his points after the break.

A swooping layup came on a play where he cut through a forest of tree toppers jammed in the lane, followed by a three-ball and then a layup off a strong feed from Grove.

Grove and Wolfe, who are listed in the program at 5’8 and 5’7, respectively, also showed grit, each ripping a rebound away from much-taller foes, then going back up for the second-chance bucket.

With the clock moving quickly, and King’s coach carping he “just wanted to catch the ferry,” Coupeville fans got a couple of nice moments near the end.

The normally unflappable Knights botched a couple of dunk attempts, drawing raspberries from the Wolf faithful, before CHS freshman Xavier Murdy put a cap on things.

Wolfe found him on the right side with about two ticks to play, and X-Man promptly drilled the bottom of the net out on a long three-ball, recording the first varsity score of his career.

Just 303 more points and he’ll catch uncle Allen Black for the family scoring title.

Wolfe’s nine gives him a team-best 134 on the season, pulling him a sliver away from passing Mike Bagby (137) to become the highest-scoring freshman boy in 102 years of CHS basketball.

Grove rattled the rims for eight, Brown banked in six, Knoblich and Murdy netted three apiece, and Wells rounded out the scoring with his bucket.

Jacobi Pilgrim, Dane Lucero, Jean Lund-Olsen, Sean Toomey-Stout, and Daniel Olson also got a chance to go toe-to-toe with King’s, as Sherman ran all 11 active players onto the court.

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Jered Brown and Co. fought hard Friday as Coupeville squared off with South Whidbey. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The rivalry is reborn.

Playing for the memory of a fallen, but not forgotten teammate Friday, the Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball squad put together its best performance of the season.

And while the still-young Wolves couldn’t get past South Whidbey and its rampaging scoring machine, senior gunner Kody Newman, the performance speaks well for the future.

Newman torched the nets for 33, including nine in the final minutes, as the Falcons pulled away late, turning a nine-point fourth-quarter lead into a 64-43 win.

But while the seventh and final star of South Whidbey’s #1 sports family graduates this year, Coupeville can return all of its stars next season.

Leading the way will be Hawthorne Wolfe, a freshman whiz kid who leads CHS in scoring and tossed in 17 more Friday while playing for the memory of his childhood friend.

Coupeville’s Class of 2022, and friends, family and fans came out strong in support of Bennett Boyles.

As part of Coaches vs. Cancer, the Wolves left a seat on their bench open Friday in memory of Boyles, who lost a battle with brain cancer when he was just 12.

Wolfe, who played with Boyles on SWISH basketball teams, wears his friends name on his shoes and put together his most-complete performance of his short high school career in tribute.

CHS raised $483.20 during Friday night’s doubleheader, with the proceeds being donated to Project Violet at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

After hugging Bennett’s mom Lucienne before the opening tip, Wolfe tapped his hand on his shoes as he stepped on the court, then lowered his head and whispered something to himself.

And then he came alive, bouncing and slapping his thigh, before rattling home the first of his three shots from behind the three-point arc, followed by a headlong charge into the South Whidbey defense for another bucket.

Flying down the court, Wolfe pulled in a pass from Jered Brown, switched hands in mid-stride, spun a scrambling defender in a circle, and flipped the ball high off the glass.

As the ball slipped through the twines, pulling Coupeville within 7-5, the biggest crowd of the season roared, with Wolfe and Boyle’s fellow frosh making the loudest noise.

But while the future of CHS basketball was playing at the top of his game, the visiting Falcons had a much-more seasoned pro to answer right back.

With Lewis Pope having graduated, Newman is The Man in Langley, and he hit from every angle, knocking down one three-ball from about a step over the half-court line.

The true killer came on the final play of the first quarter, with South Whidbey clinging to just a 12-10 lead and Coupeville pushing their rivals far harder than some might have expected.

Newman, snatching up a madly-skipping ball, hit turbo speed as he slashed down the sideline, storming right past the CHS student section.

With a small nod, and a bit of a grin, he beat the clock, and the scrambling Wolf defenders, slapping home a layup and picking up a three-point play the hard way, tossing in a free throw to cap a game-changing play.

For a moment, Newman’s derring do seemed to turn the entire flow of the game, and South Whidbey quickly stretched its 15-10 lead after one quarter out to 21-10.

But the Wolves didn’t break this time around.

Wolfe twirled through a maze of bodies for a lil’ dipsy-do bucket, then lobbed home a three-ball, before Gavin Knoblich decided to get into the scoring biz.

Dropping his own trey, and then tapping home a layup off of a sweet entry pass from Sean Toomey-Stout, Knoblich’s 5-0 run pulled the Wolves back to within seven.

Enter Newman again, as he stuck another dagger into his rivals.

This time it was a pass, flicked behind his back to a teammate running to his side, which turned into a gut punch of a Falcon bucket.

While South Whidbey carried a 32-20 lead into the half, the Falcons could never quite pull away until late in the game.

Coupeville banged home a trio of three-balls and got some nice work in the paint from Ulrik Wells and Jacobi Pilgrim and played their rivals to a 17-17 standstill in a third quarter brimming with intensity.

Brown singed the net for a trey of his own to open the fourth, and back within nine, the Wolves looked like a team that might make a run at pulling off an upset.

But Newman has honed the skills of a killer in his four years on the floor for the Falcons, and all the years before that playing against his much-heralded older sisters and brother.

In the crucible of the fourth, the Falcons leader was too much for the Wolves, and he went off for nine points in a closing 15-3 South Whidbey surge.

Record-wise, the two teams are headed in opposite directions.

With the win, South Whidbey is 4-2 in North Sound Conference action, 11-5 overall, and sits in second-place in the six-team league, trailing just King’s (7-0, 13-4).

Meanwhile, Coupeville is 1-5 in league, 2-11 overall, and is battling to hold on to the conference’s fifth, and final, playoff berth.

If the Wolves can replicate how they played Friday, however, anything is possible.

For CHS coach Brad Sherman, the Island rivalry match-up was simply a game well-played, by both teams, and for the right reasons.

“We talked before the game about keeping on theme, playing for Bennett and realizing there is a lot more to life than just basketball,” he said. “We’re honoring someone who went through the fight of his life, and we wanted to play for him.

“I’m really proud of our effort,” Sherman added. “We were scrappier than we have been at any point this season, and we rebounded better than we have all season.

“South Whidbey played well. It was just a good basketball game between two teams out there fighting hard on every play.”

That scrappiness was showcased by Wolfe, who along with his big offensive plays, was a demon on defense.

Four different times a kid listed at 5-foot-7 on the roster forced jumps balls with South Whidbey’s 6’6 big man, including one tussle where he held on to the ball even while being swung two foot into the air.

Wolfe’s 17 points gives him 125 on the season, making him the second highest-scoring freshman boy in 102 years of CHS basketball.

He passes Arik Garthwaite (109), Taylor Ebersole (114), and Mike Criscuola (115), and trails just Mike Bagby (137).

Toomey-Stout rattled the rim for nine points in support of Wolfe, and a fourth-quarter free throw broke a tie between him and older brother Cameron, who graduated last year.

Sean now holds the family scoring title at 81-80, though there’s always the chance sister Maya will return to basketball and come gunnin’ for them both.

Coupeville’s lone senior, Dane Lucero, played aggressively on defense, while Knoblich (5), Wells (4), Brown (3), Mason Grove (3) and Pilgrim (2) also scored.

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Hawthorne Wolfe is just the fifth CHS boy in 102 years to top 100 varsity points as a freshman. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Second half, not the same as the first.

Finding its shooting touch after halftime Friday, the Sultan High School varsity boys basketball squad turned a close game into a blowout, romping past visiting Coupeville 67-28.

The killer was a 27-3 Turk run in the third quarter, which turned a seven-point lead into a 31-point advantage.

The loss drops the Wolves to 1-3 in North Sound Conference action, 2-9 overall.

Coupeville still has a game-and-a-half lead on Granite Falls (0-5) for the fifth and final playoff spot from the six-team league.

King’s (5-0), which routed Granite 84-25 Friday, is flying high, while Sultan (3-1) sits in second, a game up on Cedar Park Christian (2-2) and South Whidbey (2-2).

CPC shocked Coupeville’s Island neighbors Friday, winning a 55-53 thriller.

Facing Sultan for the second time this season, the Wolves hung tough for a half.

Down 13-6 at the first break, CHS played the Turks even through a 10-10 second quarter.

Then, something went really, truly wrong for the Wolves after the halftime break.

While Gavin Knoblich netted a three-ball, that was all the offense Coupeville could muster in the third.

Sultan answered with 11 buckets, three of them from behind the three-point line, and tossed a pair of free throws onto the bonfire, effectively ending the game.

The fourth quarter, while not much better for the Wolves, did feature a couple of milestones.

Freshman Xavier Murdy and sophomore Daniel Olson made their varsity debuts, while Hawthorne Wolfe joined an elite group.

The sweet-shooting guard, who leads Coupeville in scoring, went coast to coast for a layup to become only the fifth boy in 102 seasons of Wolf basketball to score 100 varsity points during his freshman season.

With six regular season games left, then a possible postseason run, Wolfe, who has 103 points, has a legitimate shot to eclipse the four frosh boys who came before him.

Mike Bagby tops that list, with 137 points in the 2002-2003 season, with Mike Criscuola (115), Taylor Ebersole (114), and Arik Garthwaite (109) also on the list.

A fourth Wolf achieved a personal milestone Friday, as junior guard Jean Lund-Olsen recorded his first varsity points, netting a first-half three-ball.

Sean Toomey-Stout paced Coupeville with seven points, while Mason Grove netted a pair of treys en route to six. Wolfe (5), Knoblich (5), Lund-Olsen (3) and Jacobi Pilgrim (2) also scored.

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Hawthorne Wolfe is on pace to score more points than any freshman in the 102-year history of CHS varsity boys basketball. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hawthorne Wolfe is on the verge of gettin’ all historical on us.

The Coupeville High School freshman has only played eight basketball games in high school, yet he’s on target to do something only a select few have accomplished.

The 2018-2019 season is the 102nd for the Wolf boys basketball program, and the 45th for the CHS girls.

During those previous 145 seasons, only nine players – five girls and four boys – have scored 100+ points in varsity action during their freshman season.

Barring a major plot twist, Wolfe is about to become #10, and could easily finish with the best point total ever achieved by a freshman boy.

Through the first eight games of the season, the young gunner has been a crack shot from behind the three-point arc, while also showing a refreshing willingness to drive the ball to the hoop, forcing his defenders back on their heels.

Wolfe was the leading scorer on opening night, with nine points, and his 18 on the road at Orcas Island is the most any Coupeville varsity boy has tallied this season.

So, it comes as little surprise he sits atop his team’s scoring chart with 84 points as we leave 2018 behind.

That puts him well ahead of his veteran teammates, as juniors Sean Toomey-Stout (48), Ulrik Wells (46), Mason Grove (44) and Jered Brown (40) fill the #2-5 slots currently.

Averaging 10.5 a night, Wolfe has nine games left in the regular season, with the hope of playoff action arriving to stretch out the campaign.

If he keeps at his current pace he would have 178 points heading into the postseason, which would be the best-ever point total for a Coupeville freshman boy, and third-best in school history.

Even if Wolfe were to rapidly fade, which doesn’t seem likely, barring an injury or alien abduction, he needs less than a basket a game the rest of the way to hit the magical 1-0-0.

And it is magical, as so few in school history have accomplished the feat.

Why it’s been achieved so infrequently comes down to several things, actually.

Some of the greatest scorers in school history – Jeff Stone, Randy Keefe and Bill Jarrell, for three – were simply prevented from playing varsity basketball as freshmen because they suited up in the late ’60s through mid-’70s.

That was a time period when 9th graders weren’t eligible to play high school basketball, with Coupeville having a junior high instead of the current middle school system.

Other net-burners didn’t make an immediate impact as freshman for varied reasons.

Brad Sherman, who is now Wolfe’s coach, spent his first year on the JV, yet still managed to ring up 874 points in his remaining three years, eighth-best in program history.

Then there are all-time greats who got some varsity floor time as freshmen, but because of a glut of solid upperclassmen, or a coach leery of throwing the youngsters into the fray, had limited impact their first time out.

There’s Hunter Smith, who scored just three points as a frosh, before ringing up seasons of 130 (while sitting out a chunk of games with an injury), 332 and 382.

Or, Corey Cross (4, 211, 333, 263), Denny Clark (5, 180, 319, 365), Pete Petrov (13, 188, 442, 274) or Greg White (18, 194, 131, 261).

If there’s a common theme among the nine Wolves who broke 100 points as a freshman, it’s that, with one exception, they turned out to be Coupeville legends.

Three of the four boys sit among the top 10 career scorers, while the five girls account for #1, #2, #3, #4, and #6 on the all-time points chart.

But there were a lot of greats who didn’t get that chance to soar as a frosh, so talent alone is not the whole story.

Also important is simply getting a chance to play.

The one outlier in this group, Taylor Ebersole, was a starter from day one thanks partly to his freshman season of 2011-2012 being a complete rebuilding season.

Longtime coach Randy King had just retired after 20 seasons at the helm of the Wolf program, and new coach Anthony Smith was left with painfully few veterans. Therefore, why not play any talented kids?

And who knows what Ebersole might have accomplished if he had stayed at CHS, instead of transferring to La Conner after the Wolves went win-less in his freshman season?

The Ebersole scenario is somewhat similar to what Zenovia Barron encountered in 1994-1995 and Wolfe is benefiting from this season.

Coupeville’s girls went 1-19 the year before Barron moved to the high school, and the roster was wide open when she blew the door down on day one.

The 2017-2018 CHS boys were much better than the 93-94 girls, winning seven games, but they graduated six of their top seven scorers, headed up by Hunter Smith, who finished #12 in program history.

So when Wolfe came bounding on the court for the first day of practice, he had a better shot at making the roster and making an immediate impact than some others in the past.

Like say, Petrov, who, as talented as he was at 14, joined a team where six veteran players scored between 238 points (Brad Miller) and 100 (Boom Phomvongkoth) during his freshman season.

Or Sherman, who starred on the JV while the top five varsity guys in 1999-2000 singed the nets for between 340 (Pat Bennett) and 129 (Noah Roehl).

So, it’s one part talent, one part having a nose for scoring, and one huge part opportunity, which ultimately unite Wolfe and the select group he’s about to crash.

And that group, in full?

 

CHS players who scored 100 varsity points as a freshman:

Brianne King — (275 in 1999-2000) — (Career – 1549 – #1 girls)
Zenovia Barron — (242 in 1994-1995) — (Career – 1270 – #2 girls)
Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby — (163 in 1998-1999) — (Career – 892 – #6 girls)
Megan Smith — (161 in 2006-2007) — (Career – 1042 – #4 girls)
Mike Bagby — (137 in 2002-2003) — (Career – 1137 – tied for #1 boys)
Makana Stone — (116 in 2012-2013) — (Career – 1158 – #3 girls)
Mike Criscuola — (115 in 1956-1957) — (Career – 979 – #5 boys)
Taylor Ebersole — (114 in 2011-2012) — (Career – 114 – #157 boys)
Arik Garthwaite — (109 in 1994-1995) — (Career – 867 – #10 boys)

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Coupeville junior Hannah Davidson soars high to snatch a rebound. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Things are really starting to click.

Both Coupeville High School basketball squads are on the rise, though the circumstances are a bit different.

The Wolf boys broke into the win column Friday, edging Concrete thanks to big play from big man Ulrik Wells.

Meanwhile, the CHS girls have won three of four, including running away from arch-rival South Whidbey in their North Sound Conference opener.

That puts the Wolves in a tie atop the (very) early league standings, with a second conference clash coming up fast – Tuesday at home against Sultan.

The key for David King’s squad of recent? An offense that has suddenly been turbo-charged.

Coupeville tossed in 50 points against South Whidbey, then topped that with 53 two nights later vs. Concrete.

It’s the first time a Wolf varsity girls team has topped 50 points since Feb. 6, 2016, and the back-to-back net-burners is an even rarer occurrence.

CHS put together four consecutive 50+ point games between Jan. 30 and Feb. 9, 2015, smashing its way through Olympic League rivals Klahowya (twice), Chimacum and Port Townsend.

That 2014-2015 Wolf team, which won the first of three consecutive OL titles, while going undefeated each season, scored 50 or more in nine games, doing the deed six times in seven games at one point.

Whether this year’s squad can match that is an unknown, but for now, Coupeville is content to bask in the moment.

Next week brings two games for the Wolf boys (road trips to face non-conference foes Port Townsend and Nooksack Valley), while the CHS girls play three times.

The home match-up with Sultan is the big one, before a home game against PT and their own trip to Nooksack.

As we head towards those games, a look at where we are, through Dec. 16:

 

North Sound Conference girls basketball:

School League Overall
Coupeville 1-0 3-4
Granite Falls 1-0 2-4
King’s 1-0 2-3
CPC-Bothell 0-1 3-4
South Whidbey 0-1 0-6
Sultan 0-1 3-6

 

North Sound Conference boys basketball:

School League Overall
King’s 1-0 2-3
South Whidbey 1-0 4-3
Sultan 1-0 1-7
Coupeville 0-1 1-6
CPC-Bothell 0-1 1-6
Granite Falls 0-1 2-4

 

CHS girls basketball varsity scoring:

Lindsey Roberts – 77
Chelsea Prescott – 38
Ema Smith – 35
Avalon Renninger – 29
Scout Smith – 28
Nicole Laxton – 10
Tia Wurzrainer – 10
Hannah Davidson – 9
Izzy Wells – 5
Mollie Bailey – 4
Anya Leavell – 2
Ja’Kenya Hoskins

 

CHS boys basketball varsity scoring:

Hawthorne Wolfe – 72
Sean Toomey-Stout – 46
Ulrik Wells – 42
Jered Brown – 36
Mason Grove – 30
Gavin Knoblich -16
Koa Davison – 11
Jacobi Pilgrim – 6
Dane Lucero – 2
Jean Lund-Olsen

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