Eagles Take Flight
by, Ron Gilmore
It has taken just one season to return the Ferndale High School basketball program to prominence. With the hiring of its most celebrated alum as head coach, the Eagles began their mission. As a player at Ferndale and then the University of Michigan, Tom Staton was always a focused, intelligent player. He understood the basic concept that basketball is a team game. Five players on the floor working together as a single unit with a single purpose will overcome individual efforts. Tom also has always been a firm believer that preparation and conditioning will ultimately lead to success. All this said, Tom also realized he had to be a salesman. He needed to sell his players the idea that if they followed his plan, that they would indeed succeed.
To their credit, the players bought it. The assistant coach (Ferndale alum, Herb Goliday) bought it. The Junior Varsity coach (another Eagle alum, Bruce Felton) bought it.
A very simple idea. Everyone, coaches, players, seniors, juniors, JV, freshmen, ALL were going to work under the same concept and idea. "We're not just putting a team together, we're putting a program together" Staton stated early in the summer. And with that, the mission began. First came conditioning. The coaches insisted that the players be prepared to outwork their opponents. Next came the implementation of the game strategies. The coaches taught complex offensive and defensive plays. Lots of them. "I was told that these kids weren't smart enough to handle this" said Staton. "I knew better than that. I expected them to learn it. With great expectations come great results". This season, Tom has used as many as four defensive alignments on the same possession by their opponents. The players didn't miss a beat.
After starting the season slowly, the Eagles have soared to an overall record of 16-3, winning 15 of their last 16 games and going undefeated (14-0) in the OAA Blue Division. Leading the attack are Shaun Amiker (18.6 points per game, 8.5 rebounds) and point guard Jody Hill ((18.4 ppg and 4 assists). Anyone watching this team understands that it is the teams all out hustle and aggressiveness that is their trademark, featuring a smothering full court defense that unnerves even the best of their opponents.
Now it is on to the district playoffs starting with a game at Detroit Renaissance on Wednesday, March 10. Knowing Tom Staton and his players, they will be prepared for the challenge, and looking to make a long run in the playoffs.
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