Posts Tagged ‘home opener’

Zane Oldenstadt flies high for the tip. (Morgan White photos)

Coupeville fans bring the love.

“And now … we win.”

Tuition for students at Northshore Christian Academy in Everett runs close to $9,000 a year.

All that money couldn’t buy the private school a win Thursday, however.

Having traveled to the wilds of Whidbey to face off with the Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads, NCA found itself on the losing end of both contests played on the hardwood.

A sweet sweep for the public school Wolves, it gave Coupeville’s hoops stars a rare chance to shine in front of their hometown fans.

CMS hits the road for three straight games after Thursday’s rumble, starting with a Monday trip to Granite Falls.

The Wolves open the season with four of five on the road, but that does mean they will get to turn it around in the second half, with four of five at home.

“It’ll work out,” Coupeville coach Greg White said. “We’ll get to play at home when we’re playing better, because we’ll continue to improve as the season goes on.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

While Coupeville’s squads might not have been in mid-season form Thursday, they still played with passion, a lot of heart, and some considerable skill.

When things got tough, and they did in both games, the Wolves found a different gear and grabbed the wins, a testament to their grit.

How the day played out:


Level 1:

What doesn’t kill you makes you tougher. Or something like that.

Less than 24 hours after badly hurting his ankle in the season opener, Logan Downes, heavily-taped up and yet playing like a mad man, banked home a season-high 25 points as CMS won a wild 35-32 thriller.

The win evens Coupeville’s record at 1-1.

Thursday’s opener was a game of runs, as both teams took turns dropping hay-makers, with the biggest, most-explosive uppercut coming courtesy of the Wolves.

Having frittered away a nine-point second-half lead, thanks in large part to rimming out nine straight free throw attempts, Coupeville watched in horror as the game (seemingly) slipped away.

From up 24-15 late in the third, the Wolves found themselves on the wrong end of a 15-2 run, and trailed 30-26 with a hair over three minutes left to play.

The air in the CMS gym was thick with tension (or just all the fun odors to be found in a middle school gym…), and the Wolves huddled around their coach, faces covered in shadows.

At which point Downes smiled about something, teammate William Davidson chuckled, and, as one, Coupeville’s players strode back on to the court like Mike Tyson entering the boxing ring in his glory days.

The final 3:11 was a portrait of excellence, painted by the Wolves in a way which left few, if any, brush strokes for the visitors to add.

Downes struck first, breaking the press and throwing down a layup to pull CMS within a bucket.

That missing two points came courtesy Cole White, who, off of a pass from Downes, whirled and chucked up a shot which possibly sent his dad/coach’s heart through his shoes.


The ball was angled perfectly, and crashed through the net, somehow, with a very-satisfying whomp, sending his rockin’ fan section into a fit of delirium.

NCA was bent, but Davidson and Downes broke them on the very next play.

Jumping a pass, Mr. Freeze picked off the ball, shot past the startled former ball-handler, then dished the sweetest dish of the night to Downes, who was running like a young man with two good ankles.

Ball smacked into hands, and the third of Angie Downes‘ three sons exploded to the hoop for a sparkling layup, sending Coupeville ahead for good.

Moments later, Logan, this time standing still, broke that team-wide 0-9 free throw streak, swishing a pair of freebie shots to drive a final stake through the heart of Northshore.

The free throws were set up by Zane Oldenstadt, who out-wrestled two foes to claim possession of an offensive rebound, than had the presence of mind to kick the ball to Downes.

The play was one of many from his big men which brought a smile to Greg White’s face.

Zane and Will played really tough for us today,” he said. “As a team, we rebounded and played help defense really well.

“We had a drastic improvement in that area from the first game. We responded well.”

The victory came despite a cold opening for the Wolves, who missed their first five free throws and fell behind 7-0 early in the game.

But, this was a game of runs, as mentioned before, and once CMS scored, it didn’t stop for awhile.

A Downes free throw finally put the Wolves on the board with 2:12 left in the first, and that set Coupeville off on a 17-2 run.

Four different CMS players scored in the second quarter, with many of the buckets set up by solid passes, such as Downes slashing to the hoop to find a perfect feed from Landon Roberts awaiting him upon arrival.

Davidson and White offered up points done the right way, with the former banging down low, and the latter tip-toeing through the paint while flicking the ball off the glass.

Nick Guay added a free throw, while Downes, playing out of his mind at times, hit one basket on which he snared a rebound, then knocked down the shot while being knocked backwards to the floor.

Somewhere in the moment right before his rear slammed into the hardwood, Downes, moving in slow motion while everyone around him whizzed by, arced the ball gently up to the heavens, where his prayer was answered.

The CMS eighth grader spread his 25 points out, hitting for three, nine, five, and eight across the four quarters of play, while five of his teammates provided scoring support.

Cole White banked in four points, Davidson and Oldenstadt added a bucket apiece, while Ryan Blouin and Guay rounded out the attack, each netting a free throw.


Level 2:

A great run to close the third quarter was the difference, as Coupeville turned a tie into a nine-point lead, then held off the visitors 23-19 despite going scoreless in the fourth quarter.

The win lifts the Wolves to a flawless 2-0 on the season.

This one had a weird rhythm to it, as Northshore stayed in the game by making some of the funkiest three-point shots ever seen, and nothing else, until late in the third quarter.

Coupeville drew first blood on a three-ball of its own, with Timothy Nitta picking up a loose ball in the left corner and letting fly, his ball snapping the net gently as it flopped through.

NCA responded with back-to-back treys, both from the same shooter, both on awkward-looking, but very-effective Hail Mary shots.

Going airborne, they seemed to have no chance, and yet both heaves rattled around the rim and somehow found a way to drop, causing some in the audience to wonder if we were witnessing a real-life version of Angels in the Outfield play out.

Whether there were celestial beings at work or not, the Wolves responded with more down-to-Earth work, starting with a sweet pull-up jumper on the move from Nathan Ginnings.

Back to within 6-5 at the first break, Coupeville got a Hunter Bronec free throw to open the second quarter.

And then, bam, Northshore’s #40 was at it again, with a three-ball that he snapped off from somewhere down around his ankles, sending a wobbly, but uncannily-accurate shot skyward, where it shattered the Vegas odds and hit pay-dirt.

If they were troubled by The Man Who Couldn’t Miss (except when he did, which was a lot), the Wolves didn’t show it.

Quinten Simpson-Pilgrim rolled hard to the hoop for a bucket, followed by back-to-back buckets from Jack Porter, the second off of a strong offensive rebound, and CMS was in charge.

Twin brother Johnny Porter tacked on a layup coming out of the halftime break, and, up 14-9, the Wolves were flowing.

Until another miracle three-ball splashed down, followed by the rarest of rarities in this game, a Northshore bucket off of an inside shot. A layup from a steal, it knotted the game at 14-14.

To which the Wolves, as a unit, turned, flexed hard, and closed the third quarter with a bold stand, comprised of one half lock-down defense, the other half superbly-executed shot-making.

Nitta rippled the net on a three-ball, then popped free for a rolling jumper, while Simpson-Pilgrim crashed hard to the hoop with a power move which brought back memories of Karl Malone delivering the mail.

Toss in a final bucket in the paint from Hurlee Bronec, and the lead was back to 23-14 headed to the final quarter.

Which was a good thing, as the Wolves went stone-cold in the ol’ shooting department across the final seven minutes.

Strong defense, especially when it came to crashing the boards, kept NCA from staging a full-on comeback, and the Wolves rode the glass work of Mikey Robinett, Simpson-Pilgrim, and Co. to the win.

Nitta paced the Wolves with eight points, while Johnny Porter (4), Simpson-Pilgrim (4), Hurlee Bronec (2), Jack Porter (2), Ginnings (2), and Hunter Bronec (1) also scored.

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Bryce Payne scores his first run Saturday, joining older brothers Morgan and Cole as “made men” for CHS baseball. (Joan Payne photo)

The youngest brother is a made man.

Coupeville High School senior Bryce Payne, in his first season with the Wolves, walked and came around to score Saturday, one of the bright spots in a 13-1 loss to visiting Overlake.

While the non-league defeat drops the Wolves to 0-2 as they prepare to head into their first league series, small things like quality work from Coupeville’s pitchers and the identity of the player who scored the lone Wolf run, made the day better.

Bryce follows in the footsteps of older brothers Morgan and Cole, both four-year players, and his first run in a Wolf uniform means the Paynes are one of the few families to have three different players score in a CHS varsity baseball game.

I’m pretty sure there’s a couple of others, probably with names like Zylstra, Cook, or Keefe, but I can’t say for sure, as Coupeville’s baseball history is scattered across many long-missing score books and lineup cards.

Either way, the Paynes are surely in an elite fraternity now, and that’s pretty special.

Overlake, a ritzy private academy, came out firing Saturday, putting up three runs in the top of the first, then adding another seven during a 12-batter second inning.

Their hosts had a few chances to score, most noticeably in their half of the first, but the Wolves couldn’t plate a runner until the bottom of the fifth (and final) inning.

After the first two CHS hitters went down in the bottom of the first, the Wolves juiced the bags on a single from Jake Pease, an error which allowed Dane Lucero to scamper to first, and a walk to Ulrik Wells.

Coupeville fans leaned forward in their seats, anticipating a possible big explosion, but it wasn’t to be as Overlake’s pitcher escaped the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.

After that, the Wolf offense hit a bit of a wall for awhile, going one-two-three the next two innings.

A fourth-inning single from Gavin Knoblich snapped the dry spell, then Coupeville loaded the bases again in the bottom of the fifth.

Walks to Payne, Hawthorne Wolfe, and Pease put a runner atop every bag, before Payne made a mad dash home to score on a passed ball.

Any hopes of an epic comeback withered on the vine, however, as a ground-out to the Overlake shortstop brought the game to an end.

While he’s always looking for a win, Coupeville coach Chris Smith knows he has a young, fairly inexperienced team on his hands, after losing a large class to graduation.

Improvement, in big and small ways, is job #1.

“Pretty happy with our pitching so far,” Smith said. “We had Dane, Hawk and Matt (Hilborn) throw yesterday and Daniel (Olson), Cody (Roberts), and Matt throw today. Pitching has been doing a pretty good job overall.

“And we have been doing a decent job getting on base,” he added. “We just need to get some timely hitting to put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard.”

Coupeville wades into the start of league play next week, and gets to face the biggest and baddest of them all, Cedar Park Christian, early.

The Eagles, who lost 7-4 to 3A Juanita in their only game this season, finished second at the 1A state tourney in 2017, then followed that up with a 4th place showing in 2018.

The teams meet three times next week, playing Monday and Friday in Bothell, while clashing Wednesday in Coupeville.

After that, the Wolves face their final three non-conference foes, Chimacum, University Prep, and Friday Harbor, before playing 12 games against league foes King’s, South Whidbey, Sultan, and Granite Falls.

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   Ethan Spark scored a game-high 21 Friday, netting five three-point bombs in a Wolf win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“They want it pretty bad.”

As he basked in the glow of his first win as a varsity basketball coach Friday, Brad Sherman wanted to make one thing clear — in his eyes, all the credit goes to his players.

Having inherited a senior-heavy roster, the former Coupeville High School hoops star has unleashed the current Wolves on defense, and it’s paying immediate dividends.

Harassing visiting Mount Vernon Christian every inch of the floor, CHS turned a close game into a rout in the second half, then coasted home with a 49-37 win.

The non-conference victory evens Coupeville’s record at 1-1.

The Wolves got strong offensive work from Ethan Spark and Hunter Smith, who combined to score 41 of their team’s 49 points, but it was defense which turned the tide in this one.

The kind of defense where it looked like five rabid dogs attacking as one, poking passes, rejecting shots, forcing turnovers and mental errors and being a royal pain in the tush to anyone unlucky enough to be wearing a Hurricanes uniform.

“I really liked our intensity on defense,” Sherman said. “We were flying all over the place, applying ball pressure and closing down the passing lanes, just making it very hard for the other team to run any kind of offense.”

Coupeville’s starting five – Smith, Spark, Cameron Toomey-Stout, Joey Lippo and Hunter Downes – are all seniors, and have yet to see a Wolf boys hoops squad post a winning record during their tenure.

Friday night, those recent struggles seemed far away, though, as the Wolves fed off a boisterous crowd, and vice versa.

There were times, with the joint rocking, where the excitement level hit the kind of highs it did back when Sherman and his classmates were soaring to success in the early 2000’s.

Whether it was Lippo rising up to reject a shot, Downes swinging his elbows while rebounding, begging any fool to get too close, or Spark making off with steals, the Wolves were in shut-down mode.

And that was most evident when Smith and Toomey-Stout, All-Conference defensive backs on the football fields, continually broke up passes in mid-sprint.

Even when they didn’t get an outright steal, balls were repeatedly jarred free and MVC, which had a distinct height advantage, got more and more gun shy and frustrated.

Adding to their intensity on defense, the Wolves chose the right moment to showcase their offensive attack, closing each of the first three quarters with a substantial run.

The first came after Coupeville fell behind 6-1 midway through the first quarter.

Mixing four free throws — two each from Smith and Spark — and a pair of buckets, Coupeville closed the period on an 8-2 tear, grabbing its first lead with less than a tick on the clock.

The go-ahead bucket came courtesy Lippo, who ripped a rebound free from a Hurricane, spun and rose up to swish a sweet fall-away jumper that tickled the twine with 0:00.3 to play.

The two teams traded baskets to kick off the second quarter, with MVC taking its final lead of the night at 16-14.

After that, the final three minutes of the half were a thing of beauty (if you were a CHS fan, at least).

Smith hung in the air for an impossible amount of time before hitting a jumper on his way down, before Spark … um … lit the spark with the first of what would be five three-point bombs.

Just to make sure MVC knew the jig was up, Smith rattled home his own three-ball, and, as it splatted through the net, he became only the 42nd male Wolf player (in 101 years) to reach 500 career points.

But, wait, there’s more!

Dribbling out the final seconds of the half, Smith sucked in all five defenders, who were dead certain he was driving to the hoop.

Instead, he whistled a pass right onto the fingertips of junior Dane Lucero, who banged home the quarter-capping layup for his first-ever varsity points.

If MVC went into the locker room still holding out hope, with the margin just 24-18, that vanished, hard, in the third.

Spark, who earned praise from his coach for his off-season dedication to working on his shooting, went ballistic, raining down three consecutive treys, each shot getting deeper and deeper into the darkest corner of the court.

As each ball hit, flipping the net skyward with a happy little sigh, the crowd, which has been somewhat dormant at times in recent years, went progressively more berserk.

The loudest scream might have come for two boom-boom plays to cap the third.

Downes and Smith, who combined for many a touchdown as quarterback and receiver, connected again, with Downes yanking a ball free, then lofting it three-quarters of the court.

His target caught it in perfect stride, flipped it up for a layup … then promptly stole the in-bounds pass and scored again.

With everything clicking, Coupeville stretched the lead out to as many as 18 points twice, the final one coming at 47-29 when sophomore Jacobi Pacquette-Pilgrim netted a free throw for his first varsity point.

While an 8-2 MVC run to close the game tightened the score just a bit, the Hurricanes left the court heads bowed, looking very much like a team which just got bushwhacked.

For Coupeville’s players, and its fans, the early-season win set off a celebration, and, for Sherman, a never-ending string of congratulatory handshakes.

Spark finished with 21 to pace the Wolves, while Smith popped for 20.

With 509 career points, he passed Jason Bagby (499) and David Lortz (502) Friday to move into 41st on the all-time CHS boys hoops scoring list.

Downes chipped in with three, Lippo and Lucero knocked down buckets and Pacquette-Pilgrim’s free throw capped the scoring.

While Coupeville’s seniors led the attack, sophomores Jered Brown and Gavin Knoblich also saw valuable floor time.

The Wolves now get a week to rest up, not returning to action until Friday, Dec. 8, when Sequim comes to town.

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   Mikayla Elfrank dropped in nine of her game-high 20 points Wednesday in the fourth quarter. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“We didn’t win the score, but we won the game.”

With his team drawing energy from a vocal, enthusiastic home crowd Wednesday, David King’s Coupeville High School girls basketball squad almost pulled off a stunner.

Rallying from 15 points down, the Wolves, playing with a very limited bench, gave themselves a chance to tie the game in the final moments against 2A Blaine, a big school boasting two big six-footers.

And while the Borderites hit their free throws in the waning seconds to slip away with a 44-39 non-conference win, King walked away a happy coach.

His undermanned squad — CHS suited six players, plus picked up swing player Avalon Renninger for two quarters — never gave up or gave in.

“I was very proud of the team effort and how well they played together,” King said. “Tonight is why I coach.”

The loss, coming on the heels of one to 2A Bellingham, drops Coupeville to 0-2 headed into back-to-back games this weekend.

The Wolves host Mount Vernon Christian Friday, then travel to Langley Saturday morning to play Flinders Christian, a traveling team from Australia.

After opening the season with two straight tilts against bigger schools, the next two games will be a welcome change of pace.

Coupeville struggled in the early going against Blaine, unable to stop its bigs from slashing to the hoop.

The Borderites opened a 13-5 lead after one quarter, before eventually stretching the lead out to 14 late in the second quarter.

Up to that point, the Wolves hadn’t been able to get much going on offense, other than a three-point play the hard way from Mikayla Elfrank.

That changed in the final two minutes of the half, as sophomore Scout Smith knocked down two long jumpers (both shots were inches away from being three-balls).

Add in a gorgeous floater from Kalia Littlejohn and CHS was back in business, trailing 23-13 at the break.

Blaine was having none of this comeback business, however, and came out of the locker room ready to drive a stake through Coupeville’s heart.

A trey from the right side and two free throws to start the half stretched the lead out to 15, and it would have been easy for the Wolves to roll over and accept defeat.

Instead, after a few reassuring words from their coach, they came out of the huddle shoulders high, heads thrown back and eyes full of flame.

Battling the bigger Borderites for every board, and getting into frequent scraps on the floor while fighting for, or creating, loose balls, the Wolves ramped up the intensity and sent a bolt of electricity through the stands.

A couple of driving layups from Elfrank and a sweet turnaround jumper in the paint from Lindsey Roberts, who backed down her taller defender before spinning and firing, kicked things off.

Coupeville cut the lead to eight, gave some back, swapped three-balls, then kept on coming, finally causing Blaine to crack a bit.

With the Borderites on their heels, CHS used a 14-5 run in the fourth, with Elfrank dropping in nine of her game-high 20, to get all the way back to within 41-38.

The final bucket came courtesy Littlejohn, who banked in a runner off of a note-perfect in-bounds pass from Elfrank.

The game’s final 50 seconds were a war, as both teams clamped down on defense, the ball was knocked loose approximately 237 times and Blaine hit three of four free-throws to ice things.

Even at the end, Coupeville kept coming, though.

A final three-point shot from Elfrank skidded off the rim, but Littlejohn, all five-feet-four-inches of her, sliced between Blaine’s twin towers and ripped the rebound down, then went right back up with a roar.

Knocked silly by multiple elbows, she barely flinched, turning and striding to the free-throw line, where she calmly sank a final free throw just to let Blaine know she remained unbowed.

Elfrank topped the stat sheet, snatching seven rebounds and handing out four assists to go with her season-high 20 points.

Littlejohn chipped in with nine points, four assists and four steals, while Smith and Roberts banged away for five points apiece.

Kalia did a really good job of being our floor general and Mikayla and Lindsey stepped up big in the second half,” King said. “They found their spark and took the ball hard to the hoop and made Blaine work for what they got.”

Coupeville’s hoops guru had praise for all seven of his players, noting the defensive intensity Allison Wenzel and Sarah Wright brought, while being matched up with taller rivals.

“They both got their hands on a lot of balls, and were in there fighting on every play,” King said.

His two sophomores, Renninger and Smith, were in their first and second varsity games, respectively, but betrayed no nerves common to younger players.

Scout handled herself really well and looked for her shot,” King said. “Avalon, for being in her first game, showed she will learn quickly. It was good to see her be able to make the proper corrections as she played.”

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   While we wait for a new grandstand to arrive, CHS football fans should expect to sit as close together as the Wolves are in this pic. (John Fisken photo)

Patience is a virtue.

While it’s true Coupeville High School will have a new football grandstand at some point in the near future, it won’t be in place for the home opener against La Conner this Friday.

And that means fans are going to be cozy for a bit.

Once in place, the new grandstand will sit in front of the apartments on what was previously the visitors side of the field.

The ground has been prepared, concrete supports have been laid, but thanks to delays by the grandstand manufacturer, the local guys are left twiddling their thumbs.

With everything in mid-construction, that side of the field will be roped off Friday and all fans, Coupeville and non-Coupeville, get to congregate together on the far side of the field.

If you attended a game last year, you know seating on that side of the field is limited.

When the old grandstand and (bee-infested, but deeply-missed) press box were ripped out prior to the 2016 football season, two smaller sections of bleachers were moved in to form what will one day officially be the visitors stands.

For now, those bleachers and the surrounding grass and track will provide one dumping ground for home and road fans alike.

So, either arrive early (kickoff is 7 PM), bring a lawn chair or get used to standing.

One thing that could help is Coupeville’s gridiron schedule begins with four of the first six games on the road.

After facing La Conner, the Wolves welcome Charles Wright Academy to town Sept. 22, then don’t play at home again until mid-Oct.

If we’re lucky, that shiny new grandstand will be in place in time for Coupeville’s late-season three-game home-stand (Oct. 13 vs Bellevue Christian, Oct. 20 vs. Klahowya, Oct. 27 vs. Chimacum).

Hey, miracles can happen.

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