Ferndale High boys basketball closes season, wins district title

By: Christian Davis | Woodward Talk | Published March 20, 2012

 Ferndale High sophomore Robert Deiz starts the break in a game earlier this season.

Ferndale High sophomore Robert Deiz starts the break in a game earlier this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

The Ferndale High boys basketball season came to a close, but not before coach Tom Staton had a moment that he promised would come for his long-time friend.

When Staton first took over the Eagles three seasons ago, he promised Principal Herb Ivory that he’d bring the school a district championship before Ivory retired.

Before losing to Dearborn Heights Robichaud 62-53 March 12 in a Class B regional semifinal, Staton fulfilled his promise.

The Eagles won their first district title since 2001 after beating Ferndale University 66-52 March 9 at home.

“Over a decade of not having a championship, it was a triple pleasure,” Staton said. “One for the team, one for me because it was my first district title, and also for Herb Ivory. He’s retiring after 40 years, and I promised him a championship before he was out of here. Being able to hand him that trophy was third.”

The Eagles finish the season 16-7 overall. Against Robichaud, Staton said his team battled, but poor shooting and a loss of momentum ultimately proved too much to overcome.

Despite shooting 30 percent and trailing most of the game, Ferndale cut the lead to two points with just over two minutes left to play, but then an injury timeout that lasted around eight minutes took place, taking the wind out of the Eagles’ sail.

“It was a situation like when you watch on TV all the time and you know the team is going to make a run,” the coach said. “We made our run, had them on the ropes, and then, it was just kind of a twist of fate.”

Ferndale says goodbye to seniors Jordan Ellis, Anthony Johnson, Nate Stepney, Ricky Smith Jr., Douglas Armstead, Elliott Oldham and Collin Johnson.

“This team had great senior leadership, especially from Nate Stepney. He was the first one in the gym, last one to leave, and all through the summer getting the guys there. He was a leader in the classroom and just a super, super individual, along with the other captains Jordan Ellis and Elliott Oldham,” Staton said.

Though the Eagles lose a plethora of talent, the coach believes there’s still plenty of firepower to keep the program on the rise.

“The foundation is set to do some damage,” he said.