Posts Tagged ‘OHHS Wildcats’

Thanks to a schedule shuffle, Izzy Wells and her Coupeville High School softball teammates will travel Mar. 16 to Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

This is not a drill. This is really happening.

Thanks to a last-second schedule shuffle, true Whidbey Island high school softball supremacy will up for grabs for the first time in more than a decade.

That’s because Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and South Whidbey will play each other, a rarity when it concerns the first two teams.

Coupeville and South Whidbey are reunited in the 1A North Sound Conference this year, and are scheduled to clash three times, twice in April and once in May.

The Wolves have dominated the series in recent years, winning four non-conference games over the past three years, including 12-0 and 10-0 routs last season.

But the biggest school on the Island, 3A Oak Harbor, hasn’t accepted a challenge from Coupeville in a very long time.

You can go all the way back to 2009 using the North Sound Conference web site, and there is not a single meeting between North and Central Whidbey on a high school field.

That changes Saturday, Mar. 16.

Coupeville was originally set to host 2A Lakewood that day, but now will travel to Oak Harbor and play a road triple-header.

The Wolf varsity opens at 11 AM against Lakewood on the OHHS softball field.

Coupeville’s JV squad also plays Lakewood, but at 1 PM at Hillcrest Elementary just down the street, while Oak Harbor and Lakewood’s varsity play on the high school field.

Then, at 3 PM, on the high school field, Coupeville gets what it’s been dreaming about for some time, a chance to square off with the Wildcats.

South Whidbey and Oak Harbor were already scheduled to meet in the season opener Mar. 12, meaning all three Whidbey teams will get a chance to recreate the magic from back when their players were in little league.

Last season, Coupeville went 12-9, South Whidbey 12-13, and Oak Harbor 2-18, but all enter a new year with a fresh slate and new challenges.

One Island, three teams, one “champion” to rule them all.

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Jamie “Senorita Smoke” Bartlett, enjoying her days as an Oak Harbor High School softball star. (Original photos by Geoff Newton)

So much joy every time she stepped on the diamond.

Jamie Bartlett was always so happy to be on a softball field.

Big win or tough loss, her joy at getting to play, her love for her teammates and her favorite game, is something which has always stuck with me.

Back in 1993, Jamie was a sophomore at Oak Harbor High School, and I, not quite six years older than her, was stumbling through a two-year run as Sports Editor at the Whidbey News-Times.

With not a single day of college to my credit, my run in the big chair had its highs and lows.

One of those peak moments was when I started referring to Jamie as “Senorita Smoke” because of the way she torched batters with her blazing fastball.

Many stories, and many nicknames later, I continue to write, and, while my focus has been firmly on Coupeville in recent years, I don’t forget my Oak Harbor roots.

From late ’89 to ’92 as a freelancer, and then ’92 to ’94 as Sports Editor, I covered many athletes whose names still invoke memories.

Manny Martucci to Natalie Turner, Gretchen Talmadge to Joe Sarpy and Pickle Sullivan, and two who have passed too soon.

Two years ago, we lost Jon Diem and now Jamie.

As I read her obit last night, discovering that my “Senorita Smoke” nickname was something which her family fondly remembered, the cancer she fought was a footnote, as it should be.

Instead, the focus was on her life with her husband, Joel, and her children, Joel, Jr. and Tayah, who are students at their mom’s alma mater.

It’s a story of a young woman of great promise who fulfilled that promise, who achieved much in what time she had.

I left the News-Times after Jamie’s sophomore year, so my image of her is somewhat frozen in time.

Staring down batters from behind her glasses, then zipping fastballs past their bats, #11 was a star. Her pitching records still stand at OHHS two decades later for a reason.

But, while the the individual strikeouts, which came one after another, fade into memory, it’s the happiness which stays with me.

Jamie played with pure joy, every single time I saw her on the diamond, and it spread to her teammates.

I am sad for her family and friends. They shouldn’t have to lose someone so dear to them just shy of her 42nd birthday.

But I am also happy for them, that they got to be part of her life, and to be touched by her joy.

Our paths crossed briefly, a writer in his early 20’s, and an athlete on the cusp of going from a teen prodigy to an all-time Wildcat legend.

A part of “Senorita Smoke” will always be with me, forever kickin’ and firin’, forever lighting up the diamond with nothing but pure joy.


To read Jamie’s obituary, jump to:


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Chris Cernick, who has crashed the boards hard all season, knocked down eight points Monday in a rumble with Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Bringing defensive heat, Wolf bangers (l to r) Ben Smith, Cernick and Miles Davidson fouled out Monday, but left a trail of destruction in their wake. (Deb Smith photo)

Success on the basketball court is about more than just wins and losses.

For a young, wildly-inexperienced team, improvement, dedication and fire in the belly tells a coach a lot.

Which is why Scott Fox, a hoops veteran pulling his first tour of duty at Coupeville High School, was all smiles after his boys C-Team fell Monday in a tightly-contested game with visiting 3A Oak Harbor.

“You look back to when we started this in November, and we’ve come a long way,” he said. “These kids have bought in to what we want to do. We’ll still make some mistakes, sure, but not like in the beginning.

“I’m proud of what they have given me,” Fox added. “It’s fun to coach kids when they like to be coached.”

While Coupeville ultimately lost 41-30 Monday, it was a marked change from the first time the two schools met back in the season-opener.

That game was a blowout. This one was anything but.

This time around, the Wolves struck first, hung tough in the late going, and never lost focus even after whistle-happy refs fouled out almost half Coupeville’s roster.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, three of eight Wolves (Chris Cernick, Miles Davidson, and Ben Smith) had been sent to the bench for good, while several other teammates were close to joining them.

Invoking memories of ’80s NBA basketball (when pretty-boy three-ball shooters frequently had their chins massaged by flying elbows), the Wolf defenders left a trail of tears (and possibly some rattled teeth).

Oak Harbor seemed a bit shaken by the mosh pit in the paint, failing to take advantage of a huge lead in free throw attempts.

Dropping in just 12 of 38 tries from the charity stripe (a meager 31.5% “success” rate), the Wildcats left the door open for Coupeville.

And, while the Wolves couldn’t quite get all the way home (10 missed free throws of their own didn’t help), they did push their big city rivals up and down the floor.

Keying things was the springy speedster, Jaylen Nitta, who threw down three of the first four buckets of the night on his way to a team-high 17 points.

Strong enough to hold on to the ball under extreme pressure, and quick enough to break the OHHS press on his own most times, Nitta was in full-on wheel-and-deal mode, and he got some help from the bangers inside.

Cernick, a first-year hoops player whose game has improved by leaps and bounds, continued his emergence as a rebounder to watch.

Whether out-leaping his foes, or using his long arms to pluck the ball from the air right as it came off the glass, he was also able to take several offensive rebounds right back up for put-backs.

That brought an especially big smile to the face of Fox, since he works with all of Coupeville’s big men — varsity, JV and C-Team — and is seeing his work pay off with an increase in toughness from his charges.

Coupeville pulled out to a 6-3 lead in the early going, with Nitta’s buckets punctuated by Cernick rising up and swatting a ‘Cat shot into the cheap seats, before the Wolves settled for an 8-8 tie at the first break.

The second quarter was the one frame in which the Wolves cracked, at least for a bit, and it would ultimately deny them the win.

Take away Oak Harbor’s 12-3 advantage across the second eight-minute span, and the game would have been 29-27.

But, even after falling behind, the Wolves made charges to kick-off both the third and fourth quarters.

Two buckets from Cernick, packaged around a pair of free throws from Jonathan Partida, cut the lead back to 22-17 early in the second half.

Then, after seeing its deficit grow to 11 by the end of the third, CHS struck hard to launch the fourth quarter.

Nitta whistled home a three-ball on the move to start things, before he picked the pocket of a Wildcat ball-handler and went coast to coast for a layup.

Back within 28-22, Coupeville had its momentum blunted by the frequent bleat of a ref’s whistle after that, as the fourth quarter became a foul-strewn death march.

The Wolves, having already lost one interior player, watched two more go to the bench permanently in the fourth as they tried to stop one sturdily-built, surprisingly-nimble Oak Harbor football player in particular.

Unable to get enough momentum going to stop the impending loss, the Wolves continued to scrap, however.

Andrew Aparicio, Brayden Coatney, and Tony Garcia fortified the CHS defense, all coming up with big hustle plays, while Smith was busy slappin’ fools upside the head all the way until the refs sent him away.

Even with just a few ticks left on the clock, the Wolves managed to draw a technical foul after baiting Oak Harbor into getting too close on inbound plays twice. For a team learning as it goes, solid evidence the work is paying off.

Nitta, who capped his night by swishing a free throw off the tech, finished with 17, while Cernick banked in eight and Partida rippled the nets for five.

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Freshman Anya Leavell tossed in eight points Monday as Coupeville’s JV bushwhacked Oak Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Our freshmen are better than yours.

Completing a 4-0 run against Whidbey Island rivals this season, the Coupeville High School JV girls basketball squad drilled visiting Oak Harbor’s C-Team 45-16 Monday night.

The win, the fourth in the last five games for the Wolves, lifts them to 8-6 on the year.

Coupeville’s JV, which featured eight freshmen among its nine active players Monday, swept home-and-away series from both 1A North Sound Conference rival South Whidbey and 3A Oak Harbor, granting them the possibly made-up, but still spiffy title of “Island Champs.”

And none of those four games were remotely close, either.

Facing a withering Wolf defense, Oak Harbor spent much of the first half Monday just fighting to get out of its back-court.

The Wildcats didn’t get a shot up that connected with either the rim or the backboard until seven and a half minutes into the game.

At that point, OHHS already trailed 16-0, en route to an eventual 24-0 deficit midway through the second quarter, and Coupeville was clicking on all cylinders.

Bucket after bucket was set up by crisp passes, as the Wolves picked apart Oak Harbor’s interior defense with ease.

The game opened on a layup from Izzy Wells, with Coupeville’s lone active sophomore, Mollie Bailey, providing the sweet dish, as she came off the dribble and flipped the pass right onto Wells waiting fingertips.

Less than two seconds later, having yanked an in-bounds pass away from the intended target, Ja’Kenya Hoskins crashed hard to the hoop, slapping home the ball with a satisfying thunk.

After that the buckets came bam-bam-bam, many set-up by steals or Wolves wrestling 50/50 balls away from their rivals and immediately crashing towards the hoop.

Wells had the hottest hand in the opening frame, popping for eight, but Coupeville spread its 18-0 surge among five shooters.

Six of Coupeville’s nine buckets in the first quarter came courtesy layups, two on sideline jumpers by Wells and Anya Leavell, and one on a power move down in the paint from Abby Mulholland.

The heir to the Keefe basketball legacy (go look it up, it’s pretty dang impressive), Mulholland posted up, caught an entry pass, then knocked her defender backwards with a subtle hip shot before draining the turnaround jumper.

The second quarter was a showcase for Audrianna Shaw, who kicked in three buckets as CHS went up 24-0 before setting for a 28-2 lead at the break.

Showing she’s dangerous from anywhere on the floor, Shaw drilled a pull-up jumper, off a kick-out from Leavell, then rolled around the corner to bank home a shot before capping things with a burst right up the middle, splitting two defenders and hitting a runner.

Mulholland, who scored in every quarter, paced the Wolves in the third, but fellow frosh Alana Mihill earned the biggest curtain call.

The scrappy cross country veteran, who had been zigging and zagging on defense all night, frustrating the Wildcat shooters, suddenly pulled up and drained a three-ball from the top of the arc late in the third frame.

Her teammates, JV and varsity, went bonkers for Mihill’s surprise bomb, her second bucket and first trey of the season.

Up in the crow’s nest, varsity players Avalon Renninger, Tia Wurzrainer, and Scout Smith, shooting game film, got so excited they came close to knocking each other down into the stands.

Perhaps taking some inspiration from Mihill, Oak Harbor, which had struggled mightily on offense through three quarters, hitting just one field goal and two free throws, picked things up down the stretch.

The Wildcats managed to put together an 8-0 run during the fourth quarter, topped double-digits scoring for the night, and “won” the final frame 12-6.

A huge part of that was Coupeville having long past taken its press off, but the Wolf defenders did pull off a couple of strong plays late, while being careful not to be so aggressive as to be jerks.

Morgan Stevens hauled down her fair share of rebounds, scrapping hard in the paint, while Lily Leedy made off with several steals, turning one into a breakaway layup.

As the ball settled through the net, Leedy turned, and flashing a smile at her family in the stands, charged back down court, ready to harass any and all ball-handlers foolish enough to dribble her way.

While CHS coach Amy King was missing four players with injuries (Kylie Van Velkinburgh, Ivy Leedy, Kylie Chernikoff and Kiara Contreras), she got big contributions from everyone able to take the floor.

Wells led the scoring attack with 12 points, while Mulholland was coming up hot in her rear-view mirror with 10 of her own.

After that, the Wolves got eight from Leavell, six from Shaw, three from Mihill, and a bucket apiece from Hoskins, Bailey, and Leedy.

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Mollie Bailey and the Coupeville JV basketball squad crushed their big city neighbors Monday night, routing Oak Harbor 48-10. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Clemson football has nothing on Coupeville JV girls basketball.

Routing their big city neighbors to the North, the Wolf young guns thrashed Oak Harbor’s C-Team 48-10 Monday night, capturing their fifth win in their last seven games.

Now 5-5 this winter, the JV girls boast the best record of Coupeville’s five high school basketball squads.

And the Wolf girls, fronting a tiny 1A school, cruised Monday despite not having much advance word on their foes, who rep a 3A school.

“Not knowing what to expect, the game plan was decided and all we could do was move forward with it,” said CHS coach Amy King. “We set up for the jump ball a little different, hoping to spread out their defense and give ourselves a better chance to score on the first play.”

Bim-bam-boom, mission accomplished, as Ja’Kenya Hoskins soared high into the air, spiked the tip to Anya Leavell, then celebrated as her fellow fab frosh drove the lane and slapped home a bucket.

Operating with a press on defense, the Wolves then harassed Oak Harbor’s ball-handlers, picking off back-to-back inbound passes.

With Audrianna Shaw providing the tip to the defensive spear, Izzy Wells and Leavell made off with steals.

Get past that trio, and Hoskins was hovering at mid-court, where she immediately clamped on to any wayward balls, as well.

With the host Wildcats crumbling, King switched things up midway through the first quarter, moving to a zone defense and unleashing her not-so-secret weapon.

Kiara (Contreras) came in and made her presence known,” King said. “Ball-hawking and driving back down the court.

“The girls all played very well off each other – true team, making that pass, setting those screens,” she added. “Ja’Kenya was unstoppable with ripping the rebounds and even had some nice put-backs.”

Up 13-2 after one quarter, Coupeville pushed the lead to 21-4 by the half, then went bonkers after the break.

Six Wolves scored during a 20-5 third-quarter surge, with Contreras and Wells leading the way with six apiece.

With the game getting out of hand, King did what she could to keep things reasonable, asking for “good, clean, tough defense,” but moving to a no-steals philosophy during the fourth quarter.

With the win well in hand, Coupeville was able to try new things, such as using post players Wells and Hoskins at point guard, and King was pleased with the effort she got from her 11 active players.

“Everyone stepped up their games tonight,” she said. “Kylie (Van Velkinburgh) was a constant help, whether at wing or post, while Abby (Mulholland) came up with some key rebounds and had a nice scoring night.

Alana (Mihill) was a burst of energy each time she went out on the court. She had a few steals that got the crowd cheering,” King added. “Same with Morgan (Stevens); her defense is getting stronger and stronger and when she grabbed the rebounds, the crowd exploded.

“Very proud of how the girls played.”

Lily Leedy, back in the lineups after being out for multiple games while recovering from a concussion, made an immediate impact, “getting good minutes” and “playing where she hasn’t before on defense and helping handle the ball.”

She also popped in a basket off of a nice drive and kick-out from Contreras.

Audrianna Shaw, Mollie Bailey and Contreras ran Coupeville’s offense for much of the night, and all three “were strong with the ball, setting up our offense and keeping things moving.”

Wells, who “always seems to be in the right place at the right time” paced the Wolves with a game-high 12 points, while also snagging five rebounds and pilfering three steals.

Contreras was hot on her heels with eight points, with Mulholland (7), Leavell (7), Hoskins (6), Shaw (4), Leedy (2), and Bailey (2) also scoring.

Coupeville ripped down 27 boards for the game and recorded 20 steals in three quarters, with Hoskins garnering nine and six, respectively. Contreras topped the team with three assists.

While she couldn’t suit up, Kylie Chernikoff, who is working her way back from an injury, kicked things off nicely by bring a speaker on the bus and filling the relatively short drive with “some great music.”

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