Posts Tagged ‘Sage Downes’

Grady Rickner can taste the excitement. (Jackie Saia photos)

Sweet and sour.

Thursday night’s varsity boys basketball clash between Coupeville and visiting La Conner offered fans a rare glimpse of a lot of things which have been mostly missing during the pandemic.

Masks were still in place, but the stands were full of (noisy) fans, and the game was a thriller, a throwback to brawls of decades past between two longtime rivals reunited by the Wolves return to the 2B classification.

The final score stings a bit, with the Braves pulling out a 59-57 win on a putback off of an offensive rebound with 2.5 seconds to play.

With the loss, coming in a game Coupeville led for two-and-a-half quarters, the Wolves fall to 2-3 on the season.

They’ll have to have short memories, with an immediate road trip Friday to the wilds of Darrington.

Though, the Wolves may want to remember much of what went down against La Conner, since when they were on, they were really on.

Coupeville came out poppin’ buckets in the first quarter, with four different players scoring during a 15-7 run to open the game.

Logan Martin cracked the seal on the rim with a sweet jumper from the left side, before Grady Rickner knocked down back-to-back buckets.

The first came on a bank shot which quietly kissed the glass as it went down, with a set-up pass right on the money from the wheeling-and-dealing Hawthorne Wolfe.

The second basket was all Rickner, as the lanky junior out-hopped two La Conner players, yanked down a rebound, then put it back up and in before returning to Earth.

Nodding his head in approval at his running mate’s play, Wolfe promptly went off for eight of Coupeville’s next nine points.

He knifed La Conner with a pair of three-balls — the second one coming from deep enough Damian Lillard would have approved — before beating the buzzer on a runner off of a dish from Daniel Olson.

Coupeville’s other point in the opening frame came courtesy a free throw off the fingers of TJ Rickner, who played his strongest game of the season.

Giving up several inches and more than a few pounds to La Conner’s big man in the middle, the elder Rickner brother fought like an uncaged panther in the paint all night.

Even after getting knocked to the floor, TJ bounded back up, shook his head violently to clear the cobwebs, and went right back to work.

TJ Rickner crashes the boards.

His play heralded a strong night for the Wolf support crew, with fellow seniors Sage Downes and Olson coming up with big hustle plays in support of the team’s main wrecking ball, Xavier Murdy.

Hitting their free throws, moving the ball — Wolfe had a bullet of a pass which set X-Man up for a bucket — and hammering away on defense, CHS carried a 26-19 lead into the half.

While the combined score was a bit lower than expected, it was due to the two team’s intensity on defense, not poor shooting.

Unfortunately for Coupeville, the visitors discovered a new weapon during the halftime break.

A Braves team which, on film, seemed to have no three-ball threats, suddenly started draining everything from behind the arc.

Raining down six of its eight treys in the second half, La Conner came all the way back, seizing the lead at 34-33, before stretching the margin to 42-39 by the end of the third quarter.

After losing the lead, Coupeville wouldn’t get it back until the very final moments of the game.

Xavier Murdy and TJ Rickner both crashed the paint hard in the fourth quarter, grabbing rebounds off of missed free throws and putting them back up and in for key buckets.

But things looked grim after La Conner’s final three-ball tumbled through the hoop to lift the Braves to a 56-49 lead.

Then things got frantic.

Wolfe slashed through the middle for a runner, set up a Sage Downes layup off a John Stockton-esque pass, then came back for another runner which froze all five Braves in place as it flipped the net.

Back within a point, Coupeville clamped down on defense, and it paid immediate dividends.

Xavier Murdy made off with a steal at mid-court and hit Grady Rickner in stride for what seemed like it would be a game-busting layup.

It wasn’t to be, though each CHS player on the floor went down swinging both fists at full throttle.

La Conner slid a single, solitary free throw through the net to knot things at 57-57 with 1:13 on the clock, then the defenses were turned to 11.

A Wolfe steal in the waning moments was overturned by a traveling call, before both teams came up with big shutdowns.

With the ball in its hands and a chance to run out the clock’s final 21 seconds before taking an exit shot, Coupeville jumped the gun early, and a try in close was denied.

At the other end, Olson came out of nowhere, flying like a bat out of Hell to poke the ball away at the very last millisecond and save a potential layup.

Daniel Olson, mentally planning to save the day.

That set up an agonizingly intense final seven seconds, with La Conner putting up a shot, missing it, but having a man in the exact right spot to snare the rebound and flip the ball off the glass.

Was he in the exact right spot because he should have been called for three seconds in the key?


But that is an argument we won’t win, as three refs declined to agree with a mass of wildly-screaming Coupeville fans.

Thanks to high school basketball not using the same rule as the NBA, the Wolves couldn’t advance the ball to half-court with a timeout, forcing their final shot to be a heave from the far end of the floor.

Xavier Murdy got it closer than most would have, but it wasn’t to be, allowing La Conner (and its traveling cheerleader squad) to revel in a win.

The game is one of many in a rivalry which used to rage like wildfire back in earlier decades, and there will be a rematch almost before you realize it, with the teams set to play June 2 in La Conner.

On this night, Wolfe paced all scorers with 22 points, and that burst carries him from #47 to a tie for #43 on the CHS boys career scoring list.

With 526 points and counting, he’s in a (likely temporary) stalemate with Brad Miller, having passed Cody Peters (518), JJ Marti (520), and Gary Faris (524).

Grady Rickner pumped in 11 points in support, with Sage Downes slapping home eight and Xavier Murdy banking in six.

TJ Rickner (3), Olson (3), Martin (2), and Logan Downes (2) also scored, with Alex Murdy bringing the heat on the defensive end of the floor.

Sage Downes had his best offensive performance as a varsity player.

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Sage Downes looks for running room. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

All the action, all the wins.

After a 13-year dry spell, Coupeville High School has now posted back-to-back winning seasons on the gridiron.

Playing through the pandemic, the Wolves finished 3-2 while playing fall sports in the spring, and wanderin’ camera clicker John Fisken was on hand to capture the final moments.

The pics above and below are courtesy him.

To see everything he shot, and possibly buy some mementos for gram and gramps, pop over to:

FB 2021-05-08 vs Concrete – John’s Photos (johnsphotos.net)


Alex Jimenez (42) leads the defensive charge.

“We are the law!”

“You might get away from one of us, but not all three of us!”

Ben Smith, tip-toeing through the tulips.

Daylon Houston unleashes his Leg ‘o Doom.

Attack as a pack.

After a 13-year dry spell, a second-straight winning season for Coupeville football.

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Senior Sage Downes (24), seen here in an earlier game, was one of the few Wolves to have a strong game Saturday in Forks. (Deb Smith photo)

Nowhere to run, nowhere to throw.

Bottled up and baffled Saturday by Neah Bay’s defense, the Coupeville High School football team struggled through a game which won’t be going on anyone’s Instagram feed.

The Red Devils rep a gridiron program which has won four 1B state titles, and they were quicker, more-disciplined, and much-more efficient.

Which is how you roll to a 44-0 non-conference victory and improve to 3-0 on the pandemic-shortened season.

Coupeville, which did get a strong game on defense and special teams from senior Sage Downes, falls to 2-2 after absorbing the beatdown on a neutral field in Forks.

With one game left on the schedule — Senior Night next Saturday, May 8 against Northwest 2B/1B League rival Concrete — the Wolves can still end their run on a high point.

Beat the Lions and Coupeville clinches a second-straight winning season, after enduring a 13-year span which included 12 losing seasons and one .500 campaign.

The good news is that Neah Bay is now in the rearview mirror, most likely to never reappear.

The Red Devils, who were a fill-in for Coupeville after NWL rival Friday Harbor shut down all fall sports due to Covid, entered play Saturday having scored 116 points across two games.

The Wolves, by contrast, are struggling to score, racking up just 13 points total this season.

Yet, even with only two touchdowns, and one of those not coming until overtime, CHS had two wins before the Neah Bay beatdown, thanks in large part to its defense.

And that Wolf unit had its moments Saturday, with Downes picking off a pair of passes in the first half.

Coupeville also forced an early turnover, hitting the Neah Bay quarterback as he lunged towards pay dirt at the end of a 13-play drive, popping the ball free and sending it rolling through the end zone for a touchback.

But, too many times, Neah Bay’s runners sliced and diced, zig-zagged, and flat-out ran away from would-be tacklers.

The Red Devils attacked the corners with a vengeance, beating Wolf defenders to a mark, then often sliding back through oncoming rush hour traffic for big gains.

The game was still fairly close after one quarter, with Neah Bay just up 6-0 at the break.

Covering 53 yards in just three plays, with the touchdown run a 21-yard burst around the left corner, the Red Devils scored on their opening drive, then didn’t get back on any of their next three possessions.

But that stalemate eventually broke, with Neah Bay punching in a pair of second-quarter scores to bust things open.

A 19-yard run, capping a four-play, 62-yard drive, made it 12-0 (with Coupeville’s Kai Wong blowing up the ensuing two-point conversion), before a three-yard TD pass made it 20-0 at the half.

Neah Bay was methodical after the break, ramming three more touchdowns (and three conversions) across the line, eventually forcing a running clock for the game’s final eight minutes.

While the Red Devils found a very-effective offensive rhythm, Coupeville couldn’t say the same.

The Wolves had the ball 11 times Saturday, and finished those 11 drives with four punts, three interceptions, two lost fumbles, a missed field goal, and one failed fourth-down try which came up a few yards short.

Punting was actually Coupeville’s best offensive weapon, as Downes took advantage of some nice pro-Wolf bounces to pile up 143 yards off of his four kicks.

His boots went for 42, 35, 41, and 25 yards, pinning Neah Bay deep several times and giving the CHS defense a fighting chance.

Late in the game, Coupeville’s two quarterbacks had their best moments of the afternoon.

Sage’s brother, freshman Logan Downes, hooked up with Scott Hilborn on back-to-back quick-toss pass plays.

Then the young gunslinger came back to hit Dakota Eck in stride for an 18-yard catch-and-run, Coupeville’s longest offensive play of the day.

The other Wolf QB, junior Cole Hutchinson, had a nice scramble for a first down on Coupeville’s final drive of the day.

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TJ Rickner was one of nine players to score Monday as Coupeville’s JV whacked Cedar Park Christian. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They could have bent. They could have broke. They could have lost.

But they did none of those things.

Closing with fury and passion, the Coupeville High School boys JV basketball squad stepped back from the abyss Monday, then smacked the crud out of visiting Cedar Park Christian.

They might have lost a fourth quarter lead, but they never lost their heads, or their shooting touch, and the Wolves exited the floor with a very-satisfying 61-53 win.

The fourth-straight victiory for Coupeville, it lifts them to a flawless 4-0 in North Sound Conference action, 8-3 overall.

As sweet as the end result was, for one agonizing moment it looked like things might slip away from the Wolves.

CHS charged into the final quarter up 46-39, then watched it all go away, with Cedar Park using an 8-1 run to open the fourth and knot things up at 47-47.

The Wolves had led all the way since Sage Downes strolled through the paint and slapped home a layup to make it 8-6 in the very early going, and hadn’t surrendered the lead since that point.

And they never did.

Keeping the subtle cockiness in their walk, the Wolves looked up at the scoreboard, saw the 47-47 score, and laughed.

As quickly as the game had been tied, it was untied, with Cody Roberts popping a three-ball from the top of the arc to restore sanity and the lead.

Cedar Park got one more moment to dream about a comeback win, grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back up and in to slice the margin to 50-49, but then Coupeville dropped the nuclear bomb.

Or bombs with an S, since there was more than one.

Many more.

Daniel Olson slipped a silky jumper through the net, Grady Rickner took a steal the length of the floor, crashing through a too-slow defender for the layup, and then it was Olson again, slicing to the hoop for another bucket.

Cedar Park had no answers for the 11-0 run which broke the game open, though the greatest agony the Eagles seemed to endure came when Logan Martin arced home a three-ball from the far left corner.

One of eight treys the Wolves knocked down, it was the final, and most heart-rending sucker punch, eliciting a small wail from the CPC coach as he turned away, not able to witness any more.

While Chris Smith’s squad closed like assassins, the Wolves played strongly all night long.

Once it had the lead, Coupeville dared Cedar Park to take it away, then, time after time, smacked them in the face, Three Stooges-style.

Holding a 13-12 lead with time running out in the first quarter, CHS got a miracle bucket from fab frosh Alex Murdy, who went airborne, then fell backwards while floating, Matrix-style, yet somehow got his shot off around a clingy defender.

The ball evaded at least three hands, kissed the top of the glass, then tumbled through the net.

Off to the side, Murdy’s uncle, former Wolf scoring sensation Allen Black, nodded ever so slightly in approval.

Which for him is like most other fans running across the court, shirtless, screaming “USA, USA, USA.”

The first quarter ended, but not the human highlight reel.

Sage Downes, who banged home four three-balls in the game, banked one in from an impossible angle, Chris Cernick converted back-to-back offensive rebounds into big buckets, then Martin got bonkers.

He went off for Coupeville’s final 10 points of the second quarter, slinging back-to-back three-balls to pay dirt before slashing inside for a couple of old-fashioned, and very-effective, two-point buckets.

Logan’s kind of feeling it,” CHS varsity coach Brad Sherman chuckled as he walked by, and it was a feeling which spread team-wide.

Downes finished with a game-high 18, while Martin banked in 15 and Olson came alive to net seven.

Cernick (6), Grady Rickner (4), Murdy (4), Roberts (3), TJ Rickner (2), and Miles Davidson (2) also scored, while Alex Jimenez, Andrew Aparicio, and Chris Ruck all saw floor time.

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Daniel Olson tossed in six points Saturday as Coupeville’s JV battled Nooksack Valley. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was like the steady pitter-patter of rain hitting the roof.

Nooksack Valley kept dropping shots Saturday night, a basket here, a basket there, and steadily pulled away from host Coupeville in a boys JV bout.

By the time the game was done, the Wolves had taken a rare ding on the ol’ win/loss record, falling 55-26 to the visiting Pioneers.

With the defeat, Coupeville’s JV heads into winter break sitting at 4-3 on the season.

The Wolves are off for 12 days, not playing again until Jan. 3, when they travel to Chimacum for another non-league match-up.

After that, the CHS boys move into North Sound Conference play, with the remainder of the schedule against their main rivals.

Saturday’s tilt was relatively close through one quarter, as the Wolves, behind seven points from Sage Downes, trailed just 16-9.

That changed a little too quickly for Coupeville’s liking, as Nooksack used a 13-3 tear in the second frame to stretch the halftime margin out to 29-12.

After that, the Pioneers continued to methodically pound away at their hosts, using 14-8 and 12-6 advantages over the final two quarters to set the final score.

Downes paced the Wolves, netting a team-high 12 points, while Daniel Olson backed him up with six.

Grady Rickner (3), Cody Roberts (3), and Miles Davidson (2) rounded out the scorers, while Alex Jimenez, Logan Martin, Andrew Aparicio, and TJ Rickner all saw floor time for CHS.

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