Winter sports review: high-school teams gear up for new season
By JIM WALLER
Whidbey News Times Sports editor
November 25, 2009 · Updated 2:01 PM
High school sports move indoors for the winter season as the Oak Harbor and Coupeville teams begin playing games next week.
OH boy hoopsters plan to move up
The Oak Harbor High School boys’ basketball team doesn’t like the view from the bottom and expects to make a move up the Western Conference standings this year.
Coach Mike Washington said, “We are a vastly improved team from last year.” The Wildcats were 0-16, 1-19 in 2008-2009.
Washington said, “I expect us to be very competitive night in and night out. I hope to be in the hunt for a district spot this year. However, for us to do that, we have to play as a team and work hard both defensively and offensively. If we have team chemistry, we will surprise people.”
The Wildcats return six lettermen. Among those is senior forward Rashaad Smith, who started each of the past two seasons.
The Wildcats also return last year’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Mike Washington Jr. As a freshman Washington Jr. scored 15.7 points a game and earned second team all-Wesco honors.
Other returning lettermen include junior guard Jay Stout, who started last year and a handful of games as a freshman; junior post Aaron Boesch, a part-time starter last winter; senior post Colby Anter; and junior swingman Stevie Bratt.
Coach Washington labeled senior guard Ryan Fakkema and junior guard Denzel Harden as other varsity contributors.
Washington Sr. said, “I feel we have three of the best guards in the league this year.”
Lake Stevens should be the team to beat in Wesco, according to Washington. He also sees Stanwood (who has “two great players in Kale Schmidt and Zack Johnson”), and Arlington as contenders.
He added, “Cascade has the potential to be very good as well with Chris McGrath who averaged over 20 points per game last season.”
The season starts Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Sedro-Woolley at 7:30. Then the Wildcats face two tough opponents. Glacier Peak comes to Oak Harbor Friday, Dec. 4, at 7:30; the Grizzles return its entire team from last year and should be ranked among the state’s top 3A teams. The ‘Cats then go to Burlington-Edison Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7:30; the Tigers finished second in the state in 2A last winter.
Defense leads CHS boys’ B-ball
An old cliche in sports is “defense wins championships.”
If that adage holds true, the Coupeville boys’ basketball team should be in the thick of things in the Cascade Conference this winter.
Coach Randy King said, “I’m expecting us to be a great defensive team.”
King, however, sees his club as more than a defensive unit; it is well rounded in skills and attitude: “We return an experienced team that is united in purpose. I think we have a lot of offensive skill both inside and out.”
King, who is entering his 18th year at the helm, said, “It’s one of the best combinations of size and quickness that I’ve had at Coupeville.”
He added, “It is a fun group to coach and should be fun to watch.”
The Wolves went 7-7 in league play last year, and King sees parity in the Cascade Conference: “We have a challenging nonleague schedule and every night in the league will be a fight. I don’t feel like there are heavyweights in our league who we cannot compete with.”
Coupeville returns eight lettermen, including three starters: 6-2 senior forward Jason Bagby, 5-10 senior guard JD Wilcox and 6-5 junior post Hunter Hammer.
The other letter winners are 6-3 senior Tim Walstad, 6-0 senior Chad Brookhouse, 5-10 senior Eric King, 5-11 junior Ian Smith and 5-9 junior Tyler King.
Coach King said 6-5 junior Ben Hayes, 6-3 junior Nevin Miranda and 5-11 sophomore Dalton Engle should also see varsity action.
The Wolves open at home Friday, Dec. 4, against defending Northwest League champion Darrington at 6 p.m.
Wildcat girls aim to be ‘unshakable’
That’s the theme of this year’s Oak Harbor High School girls’ basketball team which hopes to shake things up in the Western Conference North.
Snohomish, which went 16-0 in Wesco and 24-3 for the year last season, has been a mainstay in the conference race for years. This winter, however, the depleted Panthers will have a battle on their hands.
Oak Harbor coach Brett McLeod sees Arlington and Lake Stevens as two of the league’s best teams. He’s hoping his Wildcats can be in the mix in what he expects to be a “balanced league.”
Oak Harbor finished last year 10-6 in league and in fourth place, one game out of second behind Arlington and Marysville-Pilchuck at 11-5.
The Wildcats advanced to the post season, picked up two wins, then dropped two winner-to-state games. Oak Harbor also lost a winner-to-state contest the previous year.
McLeod hopes to reverse that trend with a team built around three athletes who played significant roles last winter: Nicole Mowbray, who recently signed a letter of intent to play at Southern Oregon University next year, Jessica Denmon, a three-point sharp shooter, and Clarissa Abadesco.
Three other letter winners return: Molly Deleon, Shantee Scott and Jessica James.
McLeod expects newcomers Tatiana Cumming, Adrianna Royal and Janelle Yoshimoto to add depth.
He added, “Our ninth-grade class is impressive; some may see varsity action this year.”
McLeod said, “Our theme for the year is ‘Unshakable,’ so I hope we play with tremendous confidence, gel as a team, show toughness when there is adversity, enjoy the experience and make a run to the playoffs. We are only one of two (Snohomish) Wesco 4A teams to make the playoffs the last three years. The challenge for the seniors is to be a team that makes it four years in a row.”
The Wildcats start the year at home against Mountlake Terrace Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7:30.
CHS girls’ squad to be improved
With nine returning players, the 2009-2010 season looks promising for the Coupeville High School girls’ basketball team.
The Wolves return six girls who played significant roles last winter: Megan Smith, Courtney Boyd, Marie Hesselgrave, Cassidi Rosenkrance, Kate Smith and Amanda Manker.
Kendra O’Keefe and Courtney Arnold also saw varsity action in last year’s district tournament and return.
The Wolves also welcome back Ashley Manker who is returning after missing time from a knee injury.
Coach Blake Severns said, “With many returning from last year’s team, we look to be greatly improved. Playing in a 2A league does make things more difficult, but we hope to finish in the top half of the league and then advance in the district playoffs. The improvement of our players from last year and the return of Ashley Manker from knee surgery will lead to more success than last year and hopefully to where we were two seasons ago.”
Coupeville posted a 4-19 record last year, 0-14 in league, and won one of three district games.
Severns sees Archbishop Thomas Murphy, Sultan and King’s as the league’s top teams. ATM lost Alyssa Smith who is now playing for the University of Montana, but returns four starters from last year’s team that placed second in the state in 2A.
Sultan returns three starters from a strong team, and King’s, a state tournament team last winter, returns the nucleus of its team.
The Wolves begin the year at Concrete Dec. 1 at 5 p.m., then they meet Darrington at home Dec. 4 at 7:30.
OH wrestlers work to get more wins
Oak Harbor High School wrestling coach Mike Crebbin’s goals for this year are for the Wildcats to improve in the win column and send more wrestlers to state.
Oak Harbor finished the 2008-2009 season with a 4-6 record, 3-5 in the Wesco North. While the Wildcats finished seventh out of nine teams, they were just one win out of fourth place.
Climbing up the win column is a reachable goal, but getting to the top of the Wesco heep will be a challenge.
Sitting in the way to the Wesco peak is Lake Stevens. The powerful Vikings make a living out of winning he league title -- and more. Lake Stevens has captured the past two 4A state championships.
Another team that should be in the title mix, according to Crebbin, is Snohomish. The Panthers finished second in Wesco last year and in the top 10 at state the past two seasons.
The Wildcats will head into battle with eight returning lettermen: seniors Brandon Strickland (103/112 pounds), Colton Elliot (135), Josh Barton (140), Zach Loescher (171) and Phil Rodgers (heavyweight); junior Corey Trimbur (103); and sophomore Justin Everett (160).
Crebbin said the key newcomer is junior Drew Culver (215).
Besides picking up more wins this year, Crebbin would like to get more of his athletes to state. Elliot is Oak Harbor’s only state-meet veteran; he finished sixth last year at 130 pounds.
Swimmers expect to be in title hunt
After finishing last season with a 13-1 record and a second place finish in the Wesco North, Oak Harbor High School boys’ swim coach Amy Nurvic said that this may be the year the Wildcats take that last step and reach the top of the standings.
Nurvic said, “If we can get some divers and improve in our freestyle events, I think we just might have a chance at being Wesco champs and going undefeated this year.”
Oak Harbor returns seven lettermen: senior Matt Bolte; juniors Ben Cardinal, Price Hu, Yale Rosen, Devin Schell, and Brandon Vagt; and sophomore Jacob Jepsen.
Bolte, Hu and Rosen are team captains.
Six of the seven competed at the state meet last winter.
Rosen was fifth in district and seventh at state in the 100 breaststroke.
Hu was eighth in district and 16th at state in the 200 IM, and fifth in district and 12th at state in the 100 fly.
Jepsen finished sixth at district and 16th at state in the 100 backstroke.
Vagt qualified for the state meet in the 100 fly.
These swimmers along with Bolte and Schell made up the three relay teams; all of which competed at state.
Nurvic sees freshmen Josh Jepsen, Brett Vagt, Jarik Bainco, and Cole Weinstein adding depth to this year’s squad.
Nurvic lauded the work of the North Whidbey Aquatic Club coaching staff, headed by Neil Romney, for developing talented young swimmers who feed her program.
Marysville-Pilchuck, the defending league champion and the team that handed Oak Harbor its lone defeat last year, should be strong again this year, according to Nurvic. See sees Sohomish and Lake Stevens as other title contenders.
Nurvic said, “I have a lot of athletes turning out this year who are new to the sport of swimming. I hope that I am able to get them hooked on the sport and keep them coming out. Nearly half our team is made up of freshmen. It would be nice to get them swimming all four years. The returning swimmers are a talented group of athletes. Most of them swam at the state meet last season. They also happen to have good leadership qualities and are doing a great job working with the new recruits.”
Oak Harbor travels to Stanwood Thursday, Dec. 3, for a 3 p.m. meet, then opens at home Monday against Jackson at 6 p.m.
OHHS cheer squad begins new era
It’s the birth of a new era for the Oak Harbor High School cheer program.
Robin Gohn, after serving as the team’s assistant coach for eight years, is taking over the top spot. She is replacing long-time coach Pam Headridge who built the Wildcat cheer squad into a nationally recognized program.
Gohn said, “Being able to continue her strong and successful program is quite a humbling experience, filled with a lot of pride and emotion. Since I’ve been around the school for quite awhile, I don’t expect much change in the cheer program. I’ve been trained and taught by the best so I hope that will equate to a ‘spirited’ season.”
Gohn, with the help of assistant coach Stephanie Striepeck, will oversee two teams during the winter season. The Wildcats field both a sideline squad and a competition team.
The sideline unit includes Sam Collins, Jodie Fleming, Ashley Haines, Micaiah Davis, Lizzy Chase, Roslyn O’Neal, Jasmin Schuettke, Felica Unzueta, Orenda Doughty, Ellie Williamson and Ariel Walsh.
The competition team is made up of Meghan Rikard, Josh Higbee, Adam Goforth, Josh Sayre, Josh Johnson, Lizzie Adkins, Chylah Bass, Jillian White, Omani Welch, Courtney Tuttle and Kylene Ayer.
Other competition members are Beckie White, Jember Jansen, Bri Peterson, Sadie Strain, Loren Davis, TracyAnne Vessels, Colby Lock, Briana Sokoloski, Rae Wynne, Jade Brown, Emily Hoyt and Desiree Dillaman.
The ‘Cats travel to Decatur High School Saturday, Dec. 5, for their first competition. The following Saturday they go to Silverdale for the Klahowya Cheer Classic.Contact Whidbey News Times Sports editor Jim Waller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5060.