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Posts Tagged ‘old school vs new school’

The scrappers. Clockwise, from bottom left, Kacie Kiel, Linda Cheshier, Julia Myers and Jodi Christensen. (Photos by Geoff Newton and JohnsPhotos.net)

Who’s ready for some holiday angina?

There are no live basketball games until Jan., so it’s a perfect time for some know-it-all in the bleachers to start ranking current and former players, and debating who would be better in their prime.

Now, I spent 1994-2009 marinating in video store life, which means I left the newspaper biz mere months before Novi Barron arrived in high school, and I was sidelined when the Coupeville girls hung state tourney banners in the early 2000’s.

But, while I didn’t see Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby or Lexie Black play live (though did work with both at Videoville), I can argue the merits of two other time periods.

What we have is:

My run at the Whidbey News-Times, from Jan. 1990 through the end of the 1993-1994 season.

And my Coupeville Sports days, from 2012-2013 to today.

With that in mind, my picks for 10-player teams (delivered in alphabetic order), plus a wild card for each squad.

And, of course, since we’re in the business of creating arguments, my prediction for who would win if both teams, in their primes, met on the hardwood.

 

1990-1994:

Linda Cheshier – A one-season wonder with rare athletic ability, she played with both a genuine sense of joy and a willingness to slice you off at the knee caps and watch you bleed out.

Jodi Christensen – Baddest bad-ass to ever play for Coupeville, girl or boy. So relentless, she (accidentally) gave one of her own teammates a black eye while thrashing in the mosh pit that was early ’90s rebounding.

Stephanie Clapp – Superb ball-handler, always played with a nice little chip on her shoulder, ideal role player.

Mika Hosek – A rising star for two seasons during this time period, then an accomplished supporting player to all-timers Novi Barron, Amanda Allmer and Ann Pettit, who arrived during her junior and senior seasons.

Christi Messner – Scrappy was her middle name, a smart player who used guile and hard work to forge another best-selling chapter in her family’s book of hoops success.

Lisa Roehl – Always-dependable scorer, who, like everyone in her family, played as if every game was her last one, and the fate of the world depended on her team winning.

Misty Sellgren – A light scoring touch and raw talent that few in program history have matched. Never ran from being a star.

Joli Smith – Did whatever her team needed, always playing in control and with great court savvy. Could stick the jumper, but also willing to bend her game to mesh with the skills of her various teammates. Played with the calmness and humility of a seasoned pro, even when she was still a young gun.

Emily Vracin – Best pure shooter of her era, she lived for the big shot and almost always hit it. As complete a player as you’re likely to see, and, like Smith, wise beyond her years in a way few high school players grasp at a young age.

Marlys West – When Christensen wasn’t hitting her in the eye with an elbow, very-strong rebounder who could also fill up the bucket.

Wild Card: Jen Canfield

She graduated as the 5th best scorer in program history, and, two decades later, her 497 career points still have her at #14 all-time for Wolf girls.

One of the first players I had on the team … until I realized I only covered her freshman season.

And while she was impressive during that first go-round, I have to admit, much of her glory days (and 442 of those points) came in the three years after I left the newspaper biz.

Unlike Cheshier, who was a fully-formed senior who led the team in scoring during her one season at CHS, Canfield ultimately belongs to the all-stars of the mid-’90s, and not this team.

Dang it.

 

2012-2018:

Mikayla Elfrank – Few Wolves are as exciting in the open court. Made rivals lose their cool with her stifling, ball-hawking defense, and could slap home points all day.

Amanda Fabrizi – Tough as nails, with a very-effective little running hook shot which was pure money.

Kailey Kellner – The deadly sniper every team loves, she transformed herself from a quiet JV player into a three-ball-launching varsity ace.

Kacie Kiel – Fully committed to being the best defensive player possible, living for the opportunity to deny the other team’s best player. Also a great clutch shooter.

Breeanna Messner – The glue. She led by example, by how she worked in practice, and how she played in the heat of the moment on the floor. Like giving CHS a second coach, but letting this one wear a uniform.

Julia Myers – A bad, bad woman. “Elbows” dished out pain to anyone foolhardy enough to chase after her rebound (and every rebound was her rebound), while also being a great spot shooter.

Lindsey Roberts – Track star speed, long arms and a rare ability to morph from game to game into whatever is needed of her.

Makana Stone – The best high school player I have covered in person, girl or boy. Made it look effortless, while pulling off plays we’ll still be recounting decades from now.

Madeline Strasburg – Known as Maddie Big Time for a reason. Once hit buzzer-beating three-balls from the exact same spot on the floor, on the final play of the third quarter, in back-to-back games … played two weeks apart.

Bessie Walstad – Superior leader who went out and gave you her best, every night, every play. Not overly showy, but the very definition of solid.

Wild Card: Chelsea Prescott

As a freshman, she showed major sparks of talent. Now, as a sophomore, she’s making huge strides, as a scorer, a ball-handler and a defensive player.

Primed to be her team’s star the next two years, there’s no telling how high on this list, or any list of great Wolf hoops players, she will finish.

I’m betting very high.

We just need to give her some time before we compare her to players who have already finished four-year runs.

 

Who wins:

OK, this is not played today. Instead, this is a mythical game, where, thanks to time travel, all players are in their high school primes and step on to the court at 17 or 18 years old.

And…

Old school could not and would not be able to stop Makana Stone.

It’s not hyperbole when I say she is the best high school athlete I have ever covered on a regular basis. It’s a simple, irrefutable statement of fact.

The older squad’s best bet to slow down (not contain) Stone would be Linda Cheshier, who had speed and toughness, but not comparable height or hops.

Plus, Stone would have Madeline Strasburg, Lindsey Roberts and Mikayla Elfrank flying along side her, making every new school fast break a brutal mismatch.

It’s possible Emily Vracin, one of the deadliest shooters in program history, goes off for 30.

Then, Misty Sellgren and Joli Smith bring their top games, Jodi Christensen drops a few black eyes, and things get interesting.

But, with all due respect to the early ’90s players, who hail from a tough-luck era of Wolf girls hoops, I just can’t see them slowing down, or beating, Stone.

That would require another trip in the time machine, to pluck players from say, 1995-2005.

Give me an 18-year-old Novi Barron eyeballing an 18-year-old Makana Stone, and things go to the next level.

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Thanks to a time machine, Kit Manzanares (left) returns, still in his prime, to clash with Wiley Hesselgrave. (Photos by Geoff Newton (left) and JohnsPhotos.net)

Who’s ready for some holiday angina?

There are no new basketball games until Jan. 4, so perfect time for some know-it-all in the bleachers to start ranking current and former players, and debating who would be better in their prime.

Sadly, I was too young to experience the glory days of Coupeville boys basketball in the ’70s, and I spent 1994-2009 marinating in video store life, thereby missing another pretty good run of hoops highlights.

What that leaves us is a showdown between two time periods when I was actively invested in following CHS basketball, game by game, player by player.

My first run, from Jan. 1990 through the end of the 93-94 hoops season, is my Whidbey News-Times days.

My second run covers the 2012-2013 season to today, and is my Coupeville Sports days.

With that in mind, my picks for 10-man teams (delivered in alphabetic order), plus a wild card for each squad.

And, of course, since we’re in the business of creating arguments, my prediction for who would win if both teams, in their primes, met on the hardwood.

 

1990-1994:

Ben Biskovich – The Scottie Pippen of his generation, a star willing to do all the little things to make everyone around him better.

Ross Buckner – Would run through a wall for you, and tried, more than once.

Sean Dillon – Could get you buckets any time, any place, any way.

Frank Marti – Hard-nosed defender who could go off on offense at will.

Jason McFadyen – Cerebral floor leader who was one of the best pure shooters in program history.

Brad Haslam – The most imposing player I have seen in a CHS uniform, ever. A man, never a boy.

Kit Manzanares – Confounding and electrifying. Often came close to giving his coach a stroke, but could bring the heat like few others.

Gabe McMurray – A genuine superstar who could control a game like few other Wolves, before or after.

Brad Miller – Big, bad and bald (thanks to a shaved head) – a scary man to run into down in the paint.

Virgil Roehl – A rock, an absolute rock. Pulled the Wolves through a down period by putting them on his muscular shoulders.

Wild Card: Pete Petrov

Now, we know he became one of the most dynamic players in CHS hoops history – an explosive scorer and world-class physical specimen.

But, if we’re playing fair, he only saw the floor in a handful of varsity games during his freshman season in ’93-’94.

If I stay at the News-Times another year, Petrov is a slam dunk to make the team. But I didn’t, so he didn’t.

 

2012-2018:

Anthony Bergeron – He blossomed from a quiet bystander to being his team’s leading scorer, and dunker, by his senior year.

Aaron Curtin – Sweet shooter, quality passer, hard worker. Baseball and tennis were his calling cards, but don’t underestimate his hoops skills.

Ben Etzell – An epic collector of bruises, gashes and black eyes, as he hurtled around the gym, refusing to believe he couldn’t catch up to every single loose ball and wayward rebound.

Jordan Ford – Blue collar warrior who got most of his points off of rebounds and hustle plays. Old school work ethic in a new school player.

Wiley Hesselgrave – Tough as they came; played like a bull careening through the streets of Pamplona, goring all the idiots who dared get in his way.

Risen Johnson – Electrifying barely begins to describe his floor style, where he was always one step away from disaster, one step away from nirvana.

Gavin O’Keefe – Injuries decimated huge chunks of his career, but when he was healthy, he was a gunner who hustled on every play.

Hunter Smith – A killer in every aspect, his game would work in any era. Made everyone around him better, every night.

Ethan Spark – One of the most dangerous shooters in program history, a guy who could knife you from any angle at any time.

Nick Streubel – Football big man who cleared a path of destruction in the paint while showing a deceptively soft touch on his shots.

Wild Card: Hawthorne Wolfe

A mere freshman, he leads Coupeville’s varsity in scoring, explodes with potential while redefining laid-back cool, and I could easily see him ending his career camped among the legends.

He also has yet to play 10 games of high school ball.

Come back in three years and we’ll have this conversation again.

 

Who wins:

OK, this is not played today. Instead, this is a mythical game, where, thanks to time travel, all players are in their high school primes and step on the court at 17 or 18 years old.

And…

Old school beats the crud out of new school, and I mean that in two ways.

The ’90s guys were just far more physical, top to bottom, and the modern-day guys would have major trouble dealing with big, bad brutes like Brad Haslam, Brad Miller and Virgil Roehl.

Nick Streubel would not be easily moved, Jordan Ford is severely underrated for how effective he was in the paint, and Wiley Hesselgrave is as tough as any player, ever, but I saw the Brads play live.

They were scary dudes in a way no modern Wolf player approaches. When they walked on the court, rival players started wincing before tip-off.

Also, while Hunter Smith is the top scorer in this scenario – finishing 12th all-time among Wolf boys in career points — the older crew has far more genuine scoring threats.

Gabe McMurray was a beast, Jason McFadyen could torch you from any place on the floor and Roehl was a tower of power who dominated on the offensive glass.

The young guys have Hesselgrave, but he was more a grinder than a streak scorer, and Ethan Spark, while a great shooter, would be catching elbows to the chin all game from the ’90s guys.

I don’t think it would necessarily be a blowout, but if I’m betting a crisp fiver on the result, I know where my money goes.

It goes on the old school bruisers.

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