Posts Tagged ‘Tony Ford’

Coupeville grad Courtney (Arnold) Sleister puts up a shot while getting ready for an alumni game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

We’re in the sweet spot here.

By random chance, I currently am in possession of six scorebooks for Coupeville High School basketball teams of the past, and half those squads played a game on December 21 or 22 that season.

And all three won.

So, that’s something … said the guy looking for anything to write about during a largely sports-less pandemic.

While we wait for current players to return to the hardwood, a look back at a small slice of Wolf hoops history.


Boys Basketball
Coupeville 38
Crescent 36
**Played Dec. 22, 1988**

Hop on the roller coaster.

A year after a run to the state tourney, the Coupeville boys, who graduated their top five scorers from that team, lost six of their first seven games.

Offense was at a premium, as the Wolves managed just 16 points against Sultan, and 17 when matched up with perennial hoops power La Conner.

But then, they hit the Dec. 21-22 sweet spot.

With Tony Ford pounding away for nine points in the paint, CHS put visiting Crescent back on its heels and went to the first break up 13-9.

Whatever Wolf coach Ron Bagby told his troops during the timeout promptly … didn’t work.

The Loggers went on a 14-5 tear in the second quarter, reclaiming a 23-18 advantage and sending Coupeville to the locker room puffing ‘n panting.

But this time, perhaps allowed to be a tad more vocal inside the privacy of the locker room, Bagby got his point across, and the Wolves were a different team in the second half.

At least I assume so, as I was still living in Tumwater when this game went down on The Rock, a couple of months away from my family’s unexpected exodus to Whidbey.

Based on the book, the second-half surge was very much a team effort, as Coupeville spread out its scoring among five players.

Ford, who was overwhelmingly the #1 get-buckets guy all season, was held to just a basket in the final 16 minutes, but his teammates stepped up.

Brandy Ambrose popped for six points after the break, while Frank Marti (4), John Zimmerman (4), and Dean Grasser (4) all came up big in a game where Wayne Hardie, Jesse Smith, and Jason McFadyen also played.

Was the final margin set by a late game-winning bucket, or did the Wolves grab the lead and hang on by the skin of their teeth?

Like I said, I was in Tumwater at the time, so don’t have a clue.

I do know both teams dreaded the free-throw line all night, with Crescent (10-21) and Coupeville (2-10) clanking shots in every direction.

And, I do know the rebuilding Wolves promptly lost their next five games, eventually finishing 4-14.

But things rapidly improved after that, with young studs like McFadyen turning their 88-89 lumps into future success.


Girls Basketball
Coupeville 40
Friday Harbor 34
**Played Dec. 21, 2007**

Survive and thrive.

The Wolf girls got out to an early lead, then let the visitors chip away, before sealing the deal with an impressive final stand.

Up 10-8 after one period, Coupeville clung to a 22-21 advantage at the half, then trailed 30-29 headed into the fourth.

Crunch time belonged to Shawna West however, as she battered her way to the hoop for seven of her 10 points to spur a game-closing 11-4 run.

Only four Wolves tallied points in the victory, with Megan Smith and Hayley Ebersole tying for game-high honors with 13 apiece.

Ebersole had an especially hot hand in the second quarter, rattling home eight points on a variety of shots.

She tickled the twines on a long three-ball, one of two treys she netted in the game, while adding a pair of two-point buckets and a free throw during a busy stretch.

West added her 10 points — giving CHS three players in double figures on a night when Friday Harbor’s top scorer, Kelsey O’Day, topped out at nine — while Ashley Manker added four for the Wolves.

In a close game, both teams left points off the board thanks to free-throw shooting, though the visitors (10-22) probably rued it more than Coupeville (10-16) ultimately did.

While four scored, nine played for CHS coach Blake Severns, with Kayla Lawson, Courtney Boyd, Sarah Vass, Paige Mueller, and Kassie Lawson all seeing floor time.


Girls Basketball
Coupeville 41
Friday Harbor 37
**Played Dec. 22, 2009**

Two years later, same opponent, a lot of the same players, almost same result.

Coupeville played like a pack of savages en route to claiming a 13-5 lead by the first break, before Friday Harbor started chip, chip, chippin’ away.

A 14-10 advantage in the second, tacked on to a 12-8 margin in the third let the visitors get all the way back, and the game went to the final frame knotted at 31-31.

Down the stretch, it was Manker, with two big buckets, who led the final stand.

Marie Hesselgrave added a fourth-quarter basket, while Katie Smith and Cassidi Rosenkrance each netted a pair of free throws, sending Severns and Co. out the door with a smile.

In a game in which the Wolves sank five bombs from behind the three-point arc, Smith was the leader, recording three treys as part of a game-high 14-point effort.

Manker added 11, with Hesselgrave (6), Smith (4), Kendra O’Keefe (3), Rosenkrance (2), and Courtney Arnold (1) also scoring, while Taya Boonstra shredded folks on defense.


So, what this does all prove?

A couple of things, skippy.

That, in a (very) small sample, Coupeville High School basketball owns the dates of Dec. 21-22.

And, that if I look hard enough, I can probably scrape together a story out of just about anything.

Which is how, here on Dec. 21, 2020, Coupeville Sports — which launched Aug. 15, 2012 — officially reaches article #8,000.

So, that’s something.

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Jason McFadyen, shooting during an alumni game, made an auspicious debut for CHS basketball during the 1988-89 season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It was the season after THE season.

The 1987-1988 Coupeville High School boys basketball team finished 19-6, won 12 straight games at one point, and went to the state tourney.

Then, everyone graduated.

Well, not totally everyone, but close.

When the 1988-1989 hoops season rolled around, there were only three returning players from the 13 who had scored a season before.

Tony Ford, who was the #6 scorer for the state-bound team, was back for his senior year, while Chad Nixon and Jason Legat, who each banked home a single bucket in 87-88, were also still around.

While the latter duo only combined for 16 points in 88-89, Ford seized his opportunity and scored much of his team’s buckets during his final go-round.

In fact, his 276 points, which gave him 432 for his prep career, was more than the next three Wolves combined to score that season.

Sophomore Jason McFadyen rattled home his first 122 varsity points in 88-89, the start of a 654-point career which has him sitting at #24 all-time in Wolf boys history.

But he was the only other CHS player to top 70 points that season, as the new-look Wolves struggled at times on the offensive end of the floor.

So, why is this all important?

For several reasons — the biggest being I have the scorebook from that 88-89 season, followed by we’re in a pandemic that has shut down games for nine months, and I need stuff to write about.

Plus, in the middle of an otherwise so-so season, Ford delivered one of the great single-game performances in program history.

So, let’s flip open the book and go back to a time when Wolf coach Ron Bagby still prowled the sidelines.


Sultan 37, Coupeville 16

Game one didn’t get off to a great start, as the Wolves were blanked 12-0 through the first eight minutes.

Improbably, CHS actually was within striking distance after three quarters of play, using a defensive lockdown to carve the deficit (slightly) back to 19-10.

But it wasn’t to be, as Sultan nearly doubled its point total with an 18-point eruption in the final frame, with six players scoring.

Coupeville’s leading scorer on opening night? Dean Grasser with a fairly-quiet six points.


Lopez 51, Coupeville 34

An improvement, with the Wolves down just 19-16 at the half.

Lopez had three guys finish with double-digit scoring, though, and that trio combined to score 30 of their 45 after the break, busting things open.

Ford did his best to counter, dropping in 10 of his team-high 13 in the second half, but his teammates only combined for eight points during the same time frame.


La Conner 52, Coupeville 17

Yep, not much to say about this one.


Darrington 64, Coupeville 30

Well, Ford banged home 18 points, so there was that, but the Wolves fell to 0-4.


Coupeville 56, Concrete 44

Best game of the season, and the best half Ford played in a CHS uniform.

When the teams went to the break, Coupeville held a 22-15 advantage, with Jesse Smith and Wayne Hardie each having tallied four points.

After halftime, it was Ford time, as the lanky gunner went off for 22 of his 28 points down the stretch.

All of his scoring came off of old-school two-point buckets, as he missed the one and only free throw attempt he had that night, and Coupeville went without a three-point bomb for the fourth time in five games.


Orcas Island 54, Coupeville 38

This one was knotted 31-31 heading into the fourth quarter, then the roof caved in on the Wolves.

Seven different Orcas players scored during a 23-7 run across the final eight minutes, putting a damper on a 25-point performance from Ford.

Having ended the previous game on a tear, he picked right back up, notching 15 of those points in the first half.


Friday Harbor 57, Coupeville 39

Fun fact – McFadyen, who, remember, would finish as this team’s #2 scorer, didn’t get his first points until game #7 of the season.

This was his fourth appearance, and, like the other three games, the young gun played in just the fourth quarter.

But this time he went off, dropping a pair of three-balls en route to an eight-point quarter, making him Coupeville’s leading scorer for the night.

Entering this game, CHS had connected on just one three-point shot all season, but with McFadyen’s two-fer and a deep bomb by Frank Marti, things were changing.

At least a bit.


Coupeville 38, Crescent 36

McFadyen played in two quarters this time, but didn’t score.

Ford, after tallying nine points in the first quarter, was held to a single bucket over the next 24 minutes.

The Wolves went back to hitting no three-balls.

But, they still won, thanks to a 10-8 fourth-quarter edge in which Brandy Ambrose (4), Grasser (4), and John Zimmerman (2) came up big.


Foster 71, Coupeville 43

Ford tossed in 20, but the other team had four guys hit for double-digits.


Sultan 49, Coupeville 44

Not as close as it looks, as the Wolves needed a 17-6 run in the fourth to narrow things.

Finally given the chance to play a full four quarters at the varsity level, McFadyen tossed in a team-high 17 points, including a pair of three-balls, while Ford was the perfect complement, banking home 16.


Watson-Groen 52, Coupeville 30

Down 17-4 at the first break, things didn’t get much better for the Wolves, who were led by Ford’s 15.


La Conner 59, Coupeville 31

Close first half, not so close second half.

Clinging to a 24-21 advantage at the break, La Conner went on a 35-10 run after that, negating another solid night by Ford, who filled the scorebook with 18 points.


Darrington 73, Coupeville 52

Trailing by 30 after three, the Wolves closed strongly with a 22-13 advantage in the final quarter.

McFadyen hit for 17, Ford 16, and, after nailing just seven three-balls on the season, Coupeville netted six in one game here.

Five of them came off of the fingertips of their hot-shooting sophomore stud.


Coupeville 50, Concrete 43

Back in the win column in what must have been a wild one.

Up by seven heading into the fourth, the Wolves frittered the entire lead away, then redeemed themselves in overtime.

Tied 43-43 at the end of regulation, CHS held its hosts scoreless in the extra frame, making the long bus trip home with Bagby more pleasant than it might have been with a total collapse.

McFadyen, Marti, and Ford combined for Coupeville’s final seven points, with Ford topping all scorers on the night with 18.


Orcas Island 54, Coupeville 47

The first time these teams met, it was tied after three quarters. This time CHS was up by a bucket headed into the fourth.

But, once again, the Wolves fell short against Orcas, despite 18 (with four treys) from McFadyen.


Coupeville 49, Lopez 43

Revenge, as the Wolves avenged an earlier loss to Lopez by suddenly becoming fourth-quarter aces.

Down 35-34 on the road, CHS closed on a 15-8 tear, with McFadyen scoring seven of his game-high 18 in the final frame.

He got help from Hardie (4), Marti (2), and Ford (2) down the stretch, with Ford once again busting double digits with a 15-point night.


Friday Harbor 67, Coupeville 41

The visitors got points from all 11 players on their roster and pulled away early.

One bright spot for Coupeville came when Sean Dillon connected on his first varsity three-ball, a precursor of what was to come as he rattled home 469 career points as a Wolf, putting him #48 in program history.


Watson-Groen 67, Coupeville 54

Ford pumped in 24, his third-best total on the season, and McFadyen singed the nets for three more treys, but the visitors led from start to finish.

Leading the way for Watson-Groen was Brad Francisco, who torched the joint for 26, the most scored by any Wolf rival that season.


And thus the campaign ended, with 4-14 a step back after a trip to state.

But, the path for future success was set.

During the 89-90 season, six Wolves scored 100 or more points, the first time the program reached that mark in a decade.

The next season, the 90-91 team had four players top 200, with a fifth missing by just six points.

McFadyen led the Wolves in scoring both those seasons, while Marti, Dillon, and Ben Biskovich, who joined the varsity in 89-90, all topped 400 career points.


Varsity scoring totals for the 88-89 season:

Tony Ford – 276
Jason McFadyen – 122
Dean Grasser  68
Frank Marti – 64
Brandy Ambrose – 54
Wayne Hardie – 35
John Zimmerman – 34
Jesse Smith – 18
Chad Nixon – 14
Sean Dillon – 11
Ed Cook – 6
Duane Score – 6
Jason Legat – 2

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Fathers and sons (who became fathers). Top (l to r): Tony, Larrie and David Ford.

   Fathers and sons (who became fathers). Top (l to r): Tony, Larrie, David Ford. Bottom, Sandy Roberts, Jay Roberts and family, Jon Roberts and daughter Lindsey.

So, today is Father’s Day.

It’s also the 52nd consecutive Sunday I’ve inducted a class into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, which is kind of amazing in itself. So yay, me.

How to tie together these two milestones, you ask?

With a six-pack of honorees, as we present a unique class — two longtime, influential local coaches and the athletic sons they guided into manhood, where the sons have returned the favor to the next generation.

Today, two families, fathers and sons, as these hallowed digital walls welcome Sandy, Jon and Jay Roberts and Larrie, David and Tony Ford.

After this, you’ll find them at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

The four sons are part of a golden age for Wolf male athletes, guys who played three sports a year in the ’80s while also putting in time in the classroom and in the community.

They were among the leaders (along with classmates like Mitch and Marc Aparicio) during the Reagan years, a time when CHS routinely went to state in almost every core sport on a yearly basis.

Jon Roberts is the only one of the four to bag a Male Athlete of the Year Award, but the competition was cutthroat those years.

Or he’s just the best athlete of the bunch…

Let the family fightin’ begin!!

While Jon has his best in class award, it’s Jay’s name that sits up on the big board in the entrance way to the CHS gym.

Part of a quartet that set a school record in the 4 x 100 in ’86, he, along with Bill Carstensen, Tony Killgo and Rick Alexander, own the longest-standing track record in CHS history.

Both Roberts boys are matched by the Fords, who could grow better mustaches back in the day (though maybe not as lush as the Aparicios) and were rock-solid athletes in every sport.

Adding to their legends, three of the four (Jon, Jay and David) have gifted their alma mater with athletically-gifted children, as well.

David’s youngest, Jordan, shattered the school record in the pole vault this spring and was a three-sport letterman who played like his dad and uncle, with grit and determination.

Jay’s progeny, former softball slugger Madeline and current volleyball spiker/horse ridin’ sensation Ally, have carved a super-successful path, while Jon’s oldest, Lindsey, is the next great Wolf superstar.

As a freshman, she lettered in soccer, basketball and track, going to state in the latter two sports.

And, oh yeah, became the first female athlete in school history to win three medals at one state track meet, though the question remains — is Lindsey’s speed from dad, who loathed cross country during his one season as a runner, or from mom Sherry, who beat her husband into the Hall?

A lot of the success enjoyed by the Roberts and Ford boys, and their children, started with the guys they called dad.

Sandy Roberts and Larrie Ford might not be in the state record books like former Wolf football coach Sid Otton, but they are the very personification of what small town sports coaches should be.

They were there, always, wherever someone was needed, to guide, to inspire, to teach, to pat you on the back or kick you in the butt, depending on what the situation called for at the moment.

Larrie Ford’s greatest work might have come on the track oval, where he put in many years working with Wolf athletes, many of whom speak of him with deep respect, admiration and love.

A quality guy through and through, who always had time to talk to the press (he’s a personable guy with many a story to tell), he laid the groundwork for successful seasons, and, more importantly, successful lives.

He may have retired from working for CHS a few years back, but his impact will continue to be felt for decades.

And you can easily say the same for Sandy Roberts, who coached a ton of basketball (both at the junior high and high school levels) and who, to this day, continues to sprinkle wisdom onto current little league sluggers like grandson Landon.

Like papa Ford, papa Roberts is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, a huge smile and a firm handshake always waiting for everyone in his path.

And I’m not just saying that because he gave me a cushion to ease the agony of sitting through multiple games every week on the horrifyingly rock-hard bleachers in the CHS gym.

Though that certainly didn’t hurt his cause.

As we celebrate another Father’s Day, it just feels right to do it by honoring these six, sons and fathers all rolled into one.

May they, and their proud family legacies, continue to soar high as honored members of Wolf Nation.

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