Posts Tagged ‘three-balls’

Playing on her birthday, Mia Farris delivered strong work on the boards Saturday afternoon at Neah Bay. (Bailey Thule photo)

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

At least that’s the hope as the Coupeville High School varsity girls’ basketball squad launches a brutal stretch of games.

First up was a road trip to the hinterlands Saturday to play Neah Bay, the top-ranked 1B team in the state.

Missing two key players, the Wolves held tough with the Red Devils for much of the first half, before falling beneath a hail of three-balls in a 58-16 loss.

The non-conference defeat drops the Wolves, who were playing for the second time in less than 24 hours, to 5-6 on the season.

With the win, Neah Bay gets to 9-1, with its only loss coming to 2A Sequim, which sits at 12-0.

Things don’t get easier next week for Coupeville, with road trips to La Conner Jan. 18 and Mount Vernon Christian Jan. 20.

The always tough 2B Braves are 9-3, while the Hurricanes, the defending 1B state champs, are a crisp 13-2.

After that, however, the schedule opens up a bit for the Wolves, who will be battle-tested, if nothing else.

“Every game is a learning opportunity, and this was a big one,” said Coupeville coach Megan Richter.

“We were able to get our young players some good playing time, and they brought good energy to the game,” she added. “Now we are on to the next.”

Gwen Gustafson, always ready to scrap. (Helen Strelow photo)

Coupeville, which was missing Carolyn Lhamon — its chief enforcer in the paint — and defensive dynamo Lyla Stuurmans, was hurt by cold shooting from the field.

The Wolves netted just three field goals total on the day, with all of those coming in the second quarter, while Neah Bay tickled the twines for nine three-balls.

Toss in a lot of regular two-point shots via layups, sprinkle with some free throws, and the Red Devils proved to be as good as advertised.

While Coupeville couldn’t get the net to accept most of their offerings, the Wolves did have one of their better days at the charity stripe.

CHS opened by hitting its first seven free throw attempts, as Alita Blouin (5) and Katie Marti (2) were locked-in while the clock was frozen.

Blouin nailed a three-ball to account for Coupeville’s first field goal, but it didn’t come until nearly 11 minutes into the game.

Still, after a driving layup from Maddie Georges and a free throw from Ryanne Knoblich, the Wolves were hanging around, trailing just 25-13 late in the second quarter.

That was where things fell apart for the Wolves.

Or more to the point, that was the moment when the Red Devils flexed, and showed why they should play far into the postseason.

Neah Bay closed the game on a 33-3 surge, limiting Coupeville to just a put-back by Marti and a Knoblich free throw over the final 18+ minutes.

The Red Devils collected five of their nine treys down the stretch, proving willing and able to keep shooting (and hitting the bottom of the net) even as the clock ticked down.

Allie Greene paced the hosts with 23 points, including five three-balls, while Gracie Chartraw added 13, with a trio of her shots splashing home from behind the arc.

Blouin led Coupeville with eight points, with Marti (4), Knoblich (2), and Georges (2) also scoring.

Gwen Gustafson, Mia Farris, Madison McMillan, Skylar Parker, and Jada Heaton also saw floor time and continued to scrap hard for rebounds and loose balls until the final buzzer.

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Caleb Meyer knocks down a jumper for a Coupeville hoops squad which is now 9-0. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Stay calm. Stay composed. Stay ferocious.

In this most trying of seasons, with each game day bringing with it the threat of postponement if the latest round of Covid testing doesn’t go right, they have endured.

They have united as more than a random group of players — meshing as a true team, willing to have a different hero each game, linked by history, driven by a pursuit of excellence, and thoroughly enjoying the moment.

And that’s why Coupeville High School is one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in 2B boys basketball.

Chief Leschi out of Puyallup is 11-0, and now the Wolves, after a major gut-check win Wednesday on Senior Night, is a pristine 9-0.

Knocking off visiting Friday Harbor 49-34 in a game in which it didn’t claim the lead until the third quarter, Coupeville also improved to 7-0 in Northwest 2B/1B League play.

That puts CHS two games up on Mount Vernon Christian (4-1) as it chases its first boys basketball league title since current head coach Brad Sherman was the one knocking down three-balls twenty years ago.

Wednesday’s win wasn’t a blowout, but it showcased how this fired-up Wolves squad can turn a game around at a moment’s notice.

Coupeville’s slow start was perhaps due to a temporary cold shooting touch.

Or perhaps it was the yearly pitfall of Senior Night, an emotion fest which often hobbles teams.

If so, the Wolves, who paid tribute to Class of 2022 teammate Bennett Boyles, who lost a battle with cancer in middle school, faced a tougher task than most.

Before the game began, fellow seniors Xavier Murdy, Caleb Meyer, Logan Martin, Grady Rickner, and Miles Davidson welcomed Bennett’s mom, Lucienne Rivera, to the floor, embracing her and their memories of her son.

CHS senior Hawthorne Wolfe, the three-ball droppin’ gunner who has worn Bennett‘s name on his basketball shoes, couldn’t be there in person, prevented access by Covid protocols.

But Hawk, like Bennett, was there in spirit.

“That win tonight was a big one for all of our seniors,” Brad Sherman said. “For the guys on the floor, and the ones who couldn’t be.

“They have all given so much to the program and we could not be more proud of them.”

Friday Harbor, which beat Coupeville by a single, solitary point twice last season, came out aggressive, while the Wolves couldn’t get the ball to stay in the bucket.

Meyer pulled off a dazzling drive down the baseline, carving up the defense for a three-point play the hard way, but CHS found itself trailing 12-6 at the first break.

For a team which has broken 30 points in the opening frame more than once this season, the lack of scoring was noticeable.

But Coupeville’s defense, sparked by the Marauding Murdy boys, Xavier and Alex, kept the visitors on their toes, and unable to pull away.

The Wolves also took advantage of Friday Harbor’s penchant for hacking, going to the free throw line on a regular basis beginning early in the second quarter.

Rickner, his body picking up an assortment of bruises along the way, hit five of six at the charity stripe, before Xavier Murdy rippled the nets on a three-ball from Dame Country to close out the half.

Still, as they went to the locker room, the Wolves were in unusual territory, trailing 20-18 in a low-scoring rumble.

There was a mild ripple of tension in the gym, a bit of a concerned look on the faces of former CHS hoops coaches like Ron Bagby and Willie Smith.

But then there was the preschooler tumbling end over end off the bottom row of the bleachers, laughing like a madman, to signal the approaching storm.

Coupeville’s players sprang out of the locker room with purpose in their step, and a glint in their eyes.

Had Sherman gone all Vince Lombardi on them at halftime? Or is this team just able to spark itself back to life?

Maybe a bit of both.

Meyer, who bounded across Coupeville courts through middle school, then went on a walkabout to hone his hoops skills in the big city, strode onto the hardwood, and pulled his teammates close.

Back to end his school days with the guys he grew up with, the last connection to my Videoville days whispered a few words, slapped a few butts, then flexed his biceps and stared down Friday Harbor.

At which point Meyer’s young companion, sophomore wild child Logan Downes — the Anakin to Caleb’s grizzled Obi-Wan, if you will — went ballistic.

A long jumper from the left side, a three-ball from even further back on the right side, then a bank shot on the run, and two free throws to shut the visiting crowd up nice and good.

Logan Downes was scorching in the second half Wednesday, raining down pain.

Downes couldn’t miss, and neither could the old guys, as Logan Martin, Meyer, and Xavier Murdy all rained down three-balls as the Wolves went for the jugular.

Friday Harbor got flustered, driven mad by the ever-snapping CHS defense, and the mistakes started piling up.

Passes went wide and high. Rebounds slipped away, or were yanked away by the Wolves. And the fouls continued to mount.

Once it had its groove back, Coupeville was unstoppable, running the lead out to 38-28 by the end of the third quarter, before opening the fourth quarter on an 11-0 rampage.

The final frame started with an X-Man trey from the top of the arc and closed when the Murdy brothers combined to force a turnover at midcourt which resulted in a breakaway bucket.

Friday Harbor scored the game’s final six points to make the score look slightly closer than reality, but the visitors exited the floor looking like they had a severe case of whiplash.

While all the three-balls dropping from the skies brought roars from the pro-Wolf crowd, the biggest cheer in the final moments came on the kind of play which perfectly captures this team’s mindset.

With his team up by 20 points, Meyer tore like a bat out of Hell down court, then nimbly darted in front of a rampaging Friday Harbor ballhandler, planted himself and waited for the explosion.

Drawing the offensive charge — which also fouled out his no-brakes-required rival — the curly-haired Wolf dynamo jumped to his feet, pumping his fist in glee.

Right along with every one of his coaches and teammates.

The defensive gem capped a night in which Coupeville once again spread out its offense.

Xavier Murdy topped all scorers with 15, while Meyer banked in 12 and Downes popped for all 11 of his points in the second half.

Rickner (7), Martin (3), and Alex Murdy (1) also scored, while Cole White got frisky on defense.

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Jeff Stone, torching the nets old-school style.

It’s stood the test of time.

Set in an era long before the three-point shot went from novelty to staple of the game, Coupeville High School’s single-game basketball scoring record has remained untouched for almost 52 years.

Jeff Stone, who also owns the school’s single-season scoring mark (644), and is tied with Mike Bagby for the CHS boys career record (1,137), pumped in 48 points in the biggest game of his life.

The explosion came in the 1970 district championship game against Darrington, a game played in front of a reported 2,200 fans.

By the time Stone exited the game, with a full 90 seconds left to play, he had hit 17 of 28 field goal attempts, while netting 14 of 16 free throws.

More importantly, his performance lifted the Wolves to the district hoops title, the first of its kind won by any of Whidbey Island’s three schools.

That sent Coupeville to state — the first trip in any sport for a CHS sports program — and kicked off the most-successful decade in Wolf boys basketball history.

Stone went on to a brilliant college hoops career, then came back around to teach, coach, and be an administrator at Oak Harbor High School.

The game has changed over the past five decades, and yet not a single Wolf player has toppled the 48-point record yet.

Bagby had a run at the mark, as did Allen Black, who once torched Concrete for 39.

Current gunner Hawthorne Wolfe, who kicks off his senior season tonight at home against Oak Harbor, has had several 30+ point games, but is still chasing the king as well.

Actually, both of Coupeville’s single-game records have remained in place for quite some time, with Judy Marti’s 32 in 1983 having never been topped by another Wolf girl.

But, while 38 years (and counting) is truly impressive, 51 years (and counting) is astounding.

Some day the record may fall.

Until then, the hunt goes on, one basket at a time.

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Hawthorne Wolfe scorched Darrington for 32 points Friday, netting eight shots from behind the three-point arc. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hawthorne Wolfe fears no gym.

Ignoring all the urban legends about Darrington’s old-school facility, which looks like it could have been used in Hoosiers, the Coupeville High School junior lit the joint up Friday night.

Odd backboards or not, Wolfe outdueled the Loggers, dropping in a game-high 32 points, including netting eight three-balls, pacing CHS to a 64-51 win.

Coming 24 hours after the Wolves fell on a last-second bucket to La Conner, the victory lifts Coupeville to 3-3 at the halfway point of a pandemic-altered season.

Channeling coaches who have mentored him — hardwood gurus like Willie Smith and David King — current Wolf head man Brad Sherman was reflective in his postgame comments.

While he is still somewhat haunted by trying to shoot at Darrington during his own otherwise stellar playing days, Sherman was pleased with how the current generation responded.

“Obviously games like last night can take a lot out of you emotionally,” he said. “So today’s test was really to see how quickly we could bounce back on the road.

“And our guys came out, played hard, and did what was needed to get the W today. Have to be proud of that!”

It was a solid team effort, with all nine Coupeville players who hit the floor scoring.

But it was the Wolf named Wolfe, the bobbin’ and weavin’, smooth-talkin’ and sweet-shootin’ Hawk who captured the spotlight.

Dueling with Darrington’s Caleb Rivera, who went off for 27 points and five treys of his own, Wolfe was electric from long range.

He netted a trio of three-balls in the first quarter, tossed in two more in the second frame, then popped for yet another three in the third.

Is that a single-game record for CHS shooters?

Likely, but I’m not 100% sure.

Sherman netted six treys in a game while playing for the Wolves in the early 2000’s, and Gabe Wynn and Mason Grove both swished seven in 2017 games.

Grove once hit 10 three-balls against Port Townsend, but that came in a JV game, so Wolfe’s eight may very well be a CHS varsity record.

Either way, Wolfe’s big bombs were huge, with Xavier Murdy and Logan Downes each adding a single three-ball as Coupeville picked up 30 of its 64 points while shooting from the parking lot.

The game itself was close, especially in the early going, as Coupeville led just 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Wolfe already had 11 at that point, and he and his teammates stretched the lead out to 34-26 at the half, then 52-39 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter played out to a 12-12 stalemate, clinching the win for CHS, with six different Wolves scoring in the final frame.

Wolfe’s 32 was his second-best work of the season, trailing just the 38 he dropped on Mount Vernon Christian in the season opener.

Continuing his torrid tour through the 104-year history of CHS boys basketball, the floppy-haired Dairy Queen employee jumped Friday from a tie for #43 on the program’s all-time scoring list to #37.

With 558 points and counting, Wolfe leap-frogs Brad Miller (526), Jerry Zylstra (527), Denny Zylstra (538), Marc Bissett (549), Jim Syreen (550), Roy Marti (551), and Randy Duggan (552).

Xavier Murdy, a force on both ends of the floor, chipped in with nine points Friday, and is now just a bucket off of 150 career points.

Freshman Logan Downes (7), TJ Rickner (4), Sage Downes (3), Alex Murdy (3), Logan Martin (2), Daniel Olson (2), and Grady Rickner (2) scored as Sherman’s crew all contributed.

In this compressed season, next week will be huge for Coupeville, as it plays three games in four days.

The Wolves get a rematch with La Conner, this time on the road, next Wednesday, June 2.

Then they host MVC June 3, before traveling to Orcas Island June 5.


JV stays home:

There was no second game for the Wolf boys Friday, though Darrington is currently scheduled to play a JV game the second time these schools meet.

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Mason Grove, here to entertain. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mason Grove would make Alexander Hamilton proud, cause the former Wolf never, ever threw away his shot.

Instead, the 2020 CHS grad spent most of his days in the red and black making the net jump, three-ball after three-ball falling from the skies.

Grove feared no rival on the hardwood, and played basketball in the style of a Damian Lillard, letting fly from any angle, any spot on the floor, at any point in the game.

From a scrappy, undersized youngster to a confident elder statesmen and team leader, his journey on the basketball court was a thrilling one to watch for hoops fans.

Not that Grove was a one-sport guy, as he also excelled on the tennis courts and baseball diamond.

Grove always seemed to enjoy his time as an athlete, even after a collision with teammate Matt Hilborn left him with a smashed-up nose. (Chris Smith photo)

He made an especially-strong case for himself with a racket in hand, where he meshed often dynamic shot-making skills with a nice bit of attitude.

Paired up with James Wood, Grove was a top doubles ace for Ken Stange’s Wolf tennis squads, and the duo thrived in the spotlight of being Coupeville’s #1 team.

But, while he was a jack of all trades on the baseball diamond, and a throwback to a better, grittier time on the tennis court — unlike most modern players, Grove wasn’t afraid to drill a rival player with the ball, something which makes ’80s tennis players such as myself nod in approval — it’s basketball which dominates his resume.

“You will not score! I will … a lot … but you won’t!!” (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Grove loved to shoot, and, while he developed as an attacker as he matured, getting to the free throw line more often, the three-ball was his prime weapon.

His shot was always a little bit different than a lot of other players, as he would rear back and fling the ball from over his shoulder.

And it worked, big time.

Since he snapped off his shots, Grove almost always got the ball up before defenders could adjust, and the resulting heaves were rainbows caressing the roof of the gym.

When he got hot, it seemed like he would never miss, shot after shot rippling the net, while Grove, slight smirk hiding behind his mouth guard, ambled away like a gunfighter after another successful shoot-out at high noon.

Early in his CHS hoops career, he was on pace to be the highest-scoring JV player the Wolf boys program had ever seen.

In one game against Port Townsend, Grove rained down 10 three-balls on his way to 34 points, and the only reason he didn’t catch Allen Black for the single-season JV scoring mark was because his JV playing time became limited as varsity coach Brad Sherman started using him as a go-to gunner.

Once he made his mark at the varsity level, immediately stroking long-range shots and opening space for older teammate Hunter Smith to rumble, Grove never looked back.

He was the #6 scorer on the varsity team as a sophomore, despite playing in just a handful of minutes, then jumped to #3 as a junior and #1 during his senior season.

When he walked off the court for the final time at CHS, after a season and prep career-ending playoff loss, Grove had rung up 414 points in varsity games, which puts him #54 all-time for a program which has played for 103 seasons.

And the numbers are nice, definitely.

But it’s how he played which fans will remember.

In all of his sports, Grove was just flat-out entertaining, capable and willing of putting on a show.

He always got the most out of his talent, and seemed to enjoy every moment he had on a court or field.

So, for the numbers, and for the style, and for the way he would stand off to the side, talking and smiling with a rival player, while free throws were being shot, and then, bam, two seconds later, drill a three-ball right in that guy’s face, he joins big sis Lauren in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, you’ll find the duo up at the top of the blog, hanging out under the Legends tab.

Right where they belong.

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