Wolves head back to state

The boys’ basketball team won two bi-district titles and qualified for the state tourney both times.


Special to the News-Times

These are the golden years.

Through the first 104 seasons of Coupeville High School boys’ basketball, the Wolves captured a single district playoff crown.

Now, after thunking visiting La Conner 60-44 Wednesday, Brad Sherman’s squad has won two bi-district titles, and qualified for the state tourney both times, across the last three campaigns.

The Wolves sit at 17-5 — the most wins by a Sherman-coached squad in his seven seasons at the helm of the program — with the state bracket revealed Sunday, when the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association seeds the 16-team 2B field.

La Conner (15-7) returns to the CHS gym Saturday at 7 p.m. to square off with Auburn Adventist Academy (18-4) in a loser-out, winner-to-state game, with the victor joining Coupeville in claiming a golden ticket.

Auburn survived by eliminating Northwest Christian (Lacey) 76-48 in a game played at Evergreen State College.

Wednesday’s rumble in Cow Town pitted the co-champs of the Northwest 2B/1B League, in a matchup of teams which each won on the other’s floor during the regular season.

The Braves upended the Wolves 69-68 the first time around, with Coupeville bouncing back to drill La Conner 65-54 in the reunion.

Round three was decided shortly after tip-off, as the Wolves savaged the Braves by drilling shot after shot.

Logan Downes rippled the net on a three-ball on the game’s opening possession, and the deed was done.

La Conner was already dead and could do little else but weakly try to dig its way back out of the grave as Coupeville poured bucket after bucket of dirt right on top of the squirming Braves.

Cole White twirled in a bucket to stake the Wolves to a 9-0 lead, and (seemingly) half a second later the advantage was up to 20-3 after back-to-back treys from a savagely efficient Downes.

Hunter Bronec, controlling the paint like a boss, ripped down a rebound and fed Downes for one of his long bombs, then turned around and terrorized anyone who wandered to within a half mile of the rim.

With Coupeville running and gunning and leaving tread marks all over Brave backsides, Downes was coldly nasty as the point of the spear.

Raining down 18 points across the first eight minutes, the Wolf senior paced his squad to a 27-5 lead at the break, eyeballing would-be defenders after every basket.

When not checking out his own arms to count the endless scratch marks and bruises left behind by wildly flailing Brave defenders.

Not content to be a successful but one-dimensional scoring machine, Downes started flicking pinpoint passes between defenders in the second quarter, setting his running mates up for buckets of their own.

Chase Anderson, Hurlee Bronec, Nick Guay, and White all hit the bottom of the net, before Downes slammed home the punctuation mark with a rumble up the middle on the final play of the half.

Coupeville’s mad marksmen strolled to the locker room like gunfighters heading home after a successful shootout, holding a 40-14 lead while the Braves crawled away looking for a dark corner of the gym in which to hide.

There was no sanctuary for La Conner, however, as a jam-packed, hyped-up gym reached DEFCON 1 status as Coupeville stretched its advantage out to 30 points midway through the third quarter.

Hunter Bronec pounded away down low for back-to-back buckets, Ryan Blouin snapped the net on a high, arcing three-ball, and Guay slashed the Brave defense to ribbons on a drive down the baseline for a bucket.

La Conner, unable to find a consistent groove against a lethal Wolf defense, did trim the margin back to 50-26 heading into the fourth.

But then Coupeville delivered one last backhand to the soul, with Downes and Guay each scoring four points as CHS shoved the lead back out to 58-31.

With the game, the title, and the trip to the big dance all in hand, Sherman emptied his bench, getting all nine of his seniors a chance to play during their final moments in their home gym.

La Conner rang up some buckets in garbage time, including a sweet three-ball that banked off the glass from an unusual angle.

But by then it was all about watching the final seconds tick madly away before Wolf players and students stormed the floor.

As he marinated in his 70th win at the helm of a Wolf hoops program he starred for during his younger days, Sherman praised his support staff, from his fellow coaches to parents, while saving his biggest shoutout for his players.

“So proud of these boys,” he said. “They work so dang hard day in and day out, and they play for each other.

“It really is just a joy to see them achieving the goals they set out to accomplish together.

“Onward – not done yet!”

All 12 of Coupeville’s regular varsity players saw the floor, with eight of them scoring.

Downes finished with a game-high 28 and reached two more personal milestones with the big-game performance.

With 504 points and counting this campaign, he owns two of the three best single-season performances in the rich history of CHS hoops.

Downes tossed in 554 points as a junior, while Jeff Stone owns the school record with 644 in 1969-1970.

Angie and Ralph’s youngest son, already the #1 career scorer among Wolf boys, has rattled the rims for 1,282 points, passing Novi Barron (1,270) for second-best in school history Wednesday, while trailing just Brianne King (1,549).

Guay popped for eight to lead a very-balanced support crew, with Anderson (6), Blouin (6), Hunter Bronec (4), White (4), Hurlee Bronec (2), and Zane Oldenstadt (2) rounding out the offensive attack.

Celebrate tonight. Rest tomorrow. Get back at it the next day, intent on living out their coach’s words.

‘Cause they’re not done yet.