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Posts Tagged ‘state championships’

Coupeville celebrates its first boys basketball district title since 1970. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They found joy in despair and made the night rock once again.

Not that many years back, the Coupeville High School boys basketball program endured a winless season-plus.

The number of fans in the stands dwindled, excitement ebbed, and that was before a worldwide pandemic crushed the life out of just about everyone.

But the Wolves endured and they rebounded.

Brad Sherman, one of the best to ever make the nets flip in the CHS gym, accepted his prairie destiny and returned to build a program which honored those who came before while looking to craft a bright future.

Brad and Abbey Sherman and their future All-Conference hoops stars. (Deb Sherman photo)

As Sherman and his fellow Wolf coaches worked tirelessly, they drew on a core of players from the Class of 2022.

Three ball-happy sniper Hawthorne Wolfe was the first to reach the varsity, a starter from day one of his 9th grade season, and he was soon followed by Xavier Murdy, the glue.

Later, Logan Martin and Grady Rickner would join, with Miles Davidson contributing while battling through extensive injuries.

Two were missing, with Bennett Boyles battling valiantly against brain cancer in middle school, and Caleb Meyer having moved to the big city before his freshman campaign.

But Bennett, even after his premature passing, remains with his friends in spirit, with Wolfe writing his name on his sneakers, and the team saving a chair on the bench for their youthful companion.

Then, as the world struggled to rise from the pandemic, with masks still required, and frequent Covid tests making it a struggle to keep a roster whole, the last touchstone of my Videoville days returned.

He’s taller now, stronger now, with a lot more of the curly locks he rocked even as a lil’ kid, but Caleb Meyer’s smile still lights up the gym, and his reentry into Wolf Nation was like a lock clicking into place.

Suddenly the Wolves who ran together in middle school were back together, and, backed by a strong group of underclassmen, they were ready to rock the world.

It began with the ultimate smack upside the head, with Coupeville, a 2B school, drop-kicking 3A Oak Harbor — the Wolves proving they wouldn’t crack under pressure, wouldn’t back down against their big-city neighbors, showing a new age had arrived.

Meyer, repeatedly hit in the arms and body by feisty Wildcat defenders as he brought the ball up court, just smiled and never flinched, the ball zinging into the waiting hands of teammates.

Caleb Meyer brings the heat. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Things ended with CHS students storming the court while Wolfe flexed and popped his uniform.

Revenge for an overtime loss to OHHS as a freshman when refs swallowed their whistles as he was brutally thrashed on the final play in regulation?

Possibly, or maybe just an acknowledgment that things were going to be different this time around.

And man, were they ever.

Covid hung over everything — with Sherman often forced to juggle his lineup hours before tipoff as players were sidelined — and it didn’t matter.

Every night a different Wolf seemed to go off, and the hot hand was always fed.

Look, it’s high school ball and, down deep, every player wants to be the guy racking up points, but the 2021-2022 CHS squad did a better job than most at sharing the load — and looking happy about doing it.

They made the pass to the open guy.

They scrambled for every rebound and loose ball.

They sacrificed personal glory for the good of the whole.

A butt hit the floor and four other Wolves ran to pick up the fifth guy.

They were one of the most cohesive teams I’ve seen in my time writing about prep sports, and it paid off.

Win after win, whether it be a rout, or the occasional stunning come-from-behind victory, carried them to a promised land not seen by the boys hoops program in decades.

Team, above all else. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The first league title since 2002, when Sherman himself was still dropping three-balls from the parking lot.

The first district title since 1970, thanks to a win over eternal bogeyman La Conner on Coupeville’s home court in a gym as loud as any I have personally witnessed.

The first trip to the state championships since 1988, back when then head coach Ron Bagby was still rockin’ the ‘stache and the short shorts.

Coupeville was 16-0 when the big dance began — the only unbeaten team left in 2B — and, while the Wolves fell to established powers Kalama and Lake Roosevelt, they pushed both teams hard.

They won praise from rival coaches, media types, and state tourney broadcasters, for their defense, for their hustle, and for the way they meshed.

“Get yourself a hype man like Hawthorne Wolfe!” screamed one giddy play-by-play man, after Hawk danced in celebration when sophomore Logan Downes splashed home a long-range bomb.

It was a theme which continued as the Maraudin’ Murdy boys — Xavier and Alex — relentlessly harassed rival ballhandlers, and Meyer grabbed Rickner and Martin in bearhugs after big plays.

Xavier Murdy cuts down a memory. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Heading into the state tourney, it was obvious few outsiders had any respect for CHS basketball.

If they even knew where Whidbey Island was, they certainly had never seen the Wolf boys play at a high level in a really long time, and we were an afterthought, even at 16-0.

That changed, and now, when Coupeville next steps on a big stage, the conversation will start from a different place.

This is how you build a program, and this team, which overcame deep personal loss and troubling times, will live on as the guys who started the rebirth.

Their accomplishments will sit proudly on the Wall of Fame in the CHS gym, and, after this, they will also be a part of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

Pop up to the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, and you’ll find them sitting side-by-side with some of the most-successful teams in school history.

But, most of all, the ’21-’22 varsity hoops team will live on in the memories of those who saw them play, those who were on the floor, and those who will follow them.

All the young boys and girls who crowded into the CHS gym game after game, the ones who whooped and hollered and high-fived Hawk and X and Co.?

They will take the next step, hit the next bucket, spread the story of Wolf basketball.

Honor the past, embrace the present, strive for the best in the future.

This is the way, the way they were taught by a team for the ages.

 

Inducted as a team:

 

The 2021-2022 CHS boys varsity basketball team:

 

Coaches:

Randy Bottorff
Arik Garthwaite
Brad Sherman
Hunter Smith
Greg White

 

Players:

Hunter Bronec
Dominic Coffman
Logan Downes
Nick Guay
Logan Martin
Caleb Meyer
Alex Murdy
Xavier Murdy
Zane Oldenstadt
Grady Rickner
Jonathan Valenzuela
Cole White
Hawthorne Wolfe

 

Managers:

Miles Davidson
David Somes

 

Team Mom:

Courtney Simpson-Pilgrim

 

In Memory:

Bennett Boyles

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Will fall sports happen in Washington state schools? No one knows for sure. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

As Washington state deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal said Thursday he expects “school districts to reopen buildings and return to in-person learning next school year, as long as public health guidelines allow them to do so.”

That plan, the most optimistic of options offered, would still include all students wearing face coverings.

Also, desks will be spaced six feet apart, students may attend class in gyms or lunch rooms, and schools will have to screen students and staff for coronavirus symptoms before they enter school buildings.

Just as likely, students will be sent back to on-line, or some combination of on-line and in-person learning, especially in areas where there are substantial spikes of the coronavirus.

New, positive cases of the virus are up 20% statewide since Memorial Day, as cities reopen from the initial shutdown.

While Island County has seen no new reported cases in weeks, Eastern Washington is a completely different case.

Yakima County has a 61% increase in positive cases since Memorial Day, while Spokane (49%), Benton (39%), and Clark (39%) are also substantially up.

No official decision has been made on whether schools will return to sports competition in the fall, but it seems increasingly likely there may not be one plan used for the entire state.

Instead, each district, and the leagues and schools inside that district, may operate on their own.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which governs public and private school sports in the state, is working on creating return-to-play guidelines on a sport-by-sport basis.

In a statement released after its June 7 meeting, the WIAA Executive Board said, “As we navigate return-to-play, schools in different regions of the state will inevitably be operating under circumstances and safety protocols unique to their area.

“The Executive Board determined that the primary mission of the WIAA is to provide opportunities in education-based athletics and activities.

“Participation in extracurricular sports and activities is a critical part of the high school experience and, sadly, that has never been more evident than when those opportunities were taken away this spring by COVID-19.

“The WIAA Executive Board and staff recognize that participation will need to take place in a setting that does not jeopardize the health and well-being of students or their communities, which is why we will continue to think creatively as an organization while also working with health officials at the state level.

“We encourage each district and league to work together to answer these questions at the local level as well. While WIAA staff will be available to support member schools in any way we can, each league has the autonomy to develop policies and contingency plans that represent their communities.”

Four questions answered in the statement:

 

**Will the WIAA conduct an athletics/activities regular season or championship if schools statewide are closed to in-person learning (apart from regularly scheduled school breaks)?

Though many large schools and urban schools may only have distance learning, the WIAA intends to conduct a regular season and/or championships assuming the Department of Health supports the recommendation.

At this time, the WIAA plans to begin the fall season as scheduled but is also examining a delayed start of September 7, 2020 (September 5 for football) as its primary contingency option.

 

**Will the WIAA conduct an athletics/activities regular season or championship if schools are closed only in COVID-19 “hotspots” in Washington (excluding participants from schools that are closed)?

Although not ideal, the WIAA intends to conduct a regular season and/or championships even if all schools are not able to participate.

 

**Will the WIAA conduct an athletics/activities regular season in sports deemed “lower-risk” for COVID-19 transmission while cancelling athletics/activities considered “higher-risk?”

The WIAA intends to conduct all scheduled fall athletics/activities that are approved by the DOH.

 

**Are there recommendations unique to Washington that we need to take into consideration when developing our 2020-2021 plans? This could include modified seasons, modified rules, etc.

The WIAA intends to commence sport/activity-specific work groups to recommend and evaluate modifications to rules. It is also recommended the Executive Board prioritize modified season options and determine decision deadlines.

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Two-time state champion Danny Conlisk, seen with CHS track coach Neil Rixe, was honored at Wednesday’s Seattle Mariners game. (Dawnelle Conlisk photos)

Coupeville hits the big board at T-Mobile Park.

Conlisk is the 9th state champ added to the Wall of Fame in the Coupeville High School gym.

Danny Conlisk got his big-city bow.

The Coupeville High School senior and other spring sports state champions were honored Wednesday by the Seattle Mariners.

Conlisk sprinted away with titles in the 200 and 400 at the 1A state track and field championships in Cheney at the end of May.

Those were the first state titles won by a Wolf since Tyler King captured track and cross country crowns in 2010.

While Conlisk, his family, and CHS assistant track coach Neil Rixe went out to the ball game, the Coupeville Booster Club was busy prepping another honor.

Jon Roberts spent part of his Wednesday morning adding new plaques to the Wall of Fame in the CHS gym, making sure they would be up before Conlisk and the Class of 2019 graduate Friday night.

And track and field isn’t the only sport benefiting.

Wolf cheer (3rd place at state) and softball (North Sound Conference champs and 9th at state) join track, which adds plaques for the boys finishing 5th at state, the girls claiming 9th at the big dance, and Conlisk winning his titles.

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Maya Toomey-Stout ran in the 100 Thursday at the 1A state track and field championships. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was a 50/50 kind of day.

Coupeville High School had very little to do Thursday during the opening session of the 1A state track and field championships in Cheney, but the Wolves did advance two runners on to Saturday’s finals.

CHS senior Danny Conlisk and junior Jean Lund-Olsen both won their heats in the 100, clocking in with the exact same time at 11.05 seconds.

That put them behind defending state champ Micah Holmes of Lakeside, who hit the tape in 10.94 in the other prelim.

For Lund-Olsen, it was a PR, edging his previous best of 11.06, while for Conlisk it was just off his own school record of 11.04.

While they advanced, the Toomey-Stout twins did not.

Maya finished 11th in 12.83 (third in her heat), three slots shy of advancing.

Her brother Sean clocked in at 11.44, fifth in his heat and 16th overall.

Action heats up considerably for the Wolves Friday, as they have six prelims and two finals on the first full day of competition.

Emma Smith (shot put) and Maya Toomey-Stout (long jump) have finals, while the prelims feature Conlisk (200, 400) and Lund-Olsen (200) on the boys side.

For the girls, Lindsey Roberts (100 hurdles), Mallory Kortuem (400), and the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay teams vie for slots in Saturday’s finals.

The state meet wraps Saturday, when Coupeville could be active in as many as 10 finals.

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Coupeville’s sluggin’ sophomore shortstop Chelsea Prescott is heading to Eastern Washington for the 1A softball state championships. (Karen Carlson photo)

This is going to be a new experience.

The bracket for the state softball tournament was released Sunday, and Coupeville High School gets to face teams it has no prior history with.

The Wolves, who are headed back to the big dance for the first time since 2014, and the third time in the CHS softball program’s 41-year existence, get a blockbuster game to kick things off.

Coupeville, the #2 seed from District 1, opens against Montesano, the #2 seed from District 4.

The Bulldogs, who hail from the Evergreen League, have won four state softball titles (2008, 2009, 2015, 2017), the most of any 1A school during the fast-pitch era, which kicked off in 2002.

The opening game goes down at 10 AM Friday, Mar. 24 in Richland.

Win or lose, Coupeville plays a second time the same day, against either Deer Park, the #1 seed from District 6/7, or College Place, the #4 seed from District 5.

If the Wolves beat Montesano, its second game is at 4 PM. Lose to the Bulldogs and they return to the field at 2 PM.

Win both games and Coupeville is in the state semifinals; lose both games and the season is done.

Split the two games, and the Wolves get a third game Friday at 6 PM.

Win twice Friday, while moving in either direction in the bracket, and CHS plays anywhere from 1-3 games Saturday.

 

To see the bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2997&sport=15

 

This year’s tourney features nine teams returning from 2018’s throw-down, including defending state champ Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls).

Along with the champs, Lynden Christian, Mount Baker, Montesano, Castle Rock, Warden, Cle Elum, Deer Park, and Elma — last year’s runner-up — are back.

Busting through in 2019 are Coupeville, Seattle Christian, Forks, Royal, College Place, Freeman, and Colville.

That group replaces Chewelah, Kiona-Benton, South Whidbey, Connell, Cascade, Bellevue Christian, and Klahowya, who couldn’t replicate their 2018 magic.

 

This year’s 16-team bracket qualified thusly:

 

District 1:

Lynden Christian (12-11)
Coupeville (14-8)
Mount Baker (17-7)

 

District 3:

Seattle Christian (15-2)

 

District 4:

Castle Rock (17-5)
Montesano (17-5)
Elma (21-2)
Forks (11-10)

 

District 5:

Warden (21-2)
Royal (7-12)
Cle Elum (10-7)
College Place (16-7)

 

Districts 6/7:

Deer Park (15-7)
Lakeside (9 Mile Falls) (15-5)
Colville (15-6)
Freeman (15-7)

 

Coupeville softball’s previous state history:

 

2002 (3rd place):

beat Cle Elum 8-0
beat Royal 3-2
lost to Adna 4-0
beat Okanogan 6-1
beat Napavine 11-6

 

2014 (no place):

lost to Warden 8-1
lost to Okanogan 5-2

 

Info to know on Coupeville’s first and prospective second-round foes: 

 

College Place:

Season record: 16-7

League finish: #2 in SCAC East

Run differential: 237-124

Seniors: (2) – Jenna Mendoza, Paris Orchard

Student body count: 149.13 (2B school which opts up to 1A for sports)

Coach: Corey Davis

Mascot: Hawks

History at state championships: 2nd appearance; 1-2 record

 

Deer Park:

Season record: 15-7

League finish: #2 in Northeast League

Run differential: 175-132

Seniors: (3) – Sharon Estes, Cassidy Henderson, Lily Pierce

Student body count: 441.25

Coach: Dana Shaw

Mascot: Stags

History at state championships: 8th appearance; 6-14 record

 

Montesano:

Season record: 17-5

League finish: Tied for #1 Evergreen League

Run differential: 222-105

Seniors: (4) – Matti Ekerson, Katie Granstrom, Lexi Lovell, Lindsay Pace

Student body count: 325.38

Coach: Pat Pace

Mascot: Bulldogs

History at state championships: 22nd appearance; 67-18 record

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