Anthony Stacey’s memories of playing at Sandusky are admittedly not good.
Now, he wants to play a key part in creating long nights for visiting teams at Sandusky High School.
Stacey was introduced as the new head boys basketball coach at SHS Friday afternoon at the school's Board of Education building. The former Midview High School and Bowling Green State University standout didn’t have much fun when the Middies played the Blue Streaks in the Erie Shore Conference in the early ‘90s.
“They would press us to no end, and just really took it to us,” Stacey said. “But I remember there being so much school spirit when you played here. The band, the step team, I remember all of that. I want to bring that back to Sandusky, where people can be proud of the basketball team and the kids in the program on and off the court. I think we’re going to be able to do that, and do it relatively quickly.”
First and foremost, however, Stacey must address the obvious. He is the sixth different head coach at Sandusky in a four-year span. The Blue Streaks are just 8-37 overall the past two seasons, and haven’t had a winning record since the 2006-07 season.
But the former Medina High School coach had a message for those who follow the program.
“I think people can know and understand, I’m here for stability. I’m looking to make a difference in kids’ lives and turn the program around,” Stacey said. “Obviously some
unfortunate things have happened here and there’s been some turnover, but sometimes that happens in high school sports, which unfortunately isn’t the best thing for kids.
“We’re looking to get this back to Streakball of winning championships and going far in the tournament,” he added. “I think people can understand that I love challenges, and know what it takes to be a winner. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Stacey finished with a 41-34 record over the past three seasons at Medina, highlighted by a trip to the regional championship in 2011-12, and a 19-7 record this past season. He is leaving a Medina program that will return multiple Division I college-caliber players to take over at SHS.
“I’m really familiar with Sandusky with having family here, but I’m also here for the challenge,” Stacey said when asked why he chose to leave Medina. “I think it comes down to helping young kids who need a role model, who need influence and someone to make a difference in their lives. I think that is what attracted me to the job.
“I’ve known (Superintendent) Dr. (Eugene) Sanders since college, and I have a little bit of a relationship with (athletic director) Mr. (Shawn) Coakley, and those things helped attract me to Sandusky. And the new transformation plan and their commitment to academic and athletic excellence is right where I see things and what I want to do with the basketball program.”
Said Sanders, “We titled Mr. Stacey’s appointment as a transformation choice, in a sense that, we believe this assists in our transformation plan. We want to transform this district, and make bold and aggressive decisions that move this district in the place that we want to be. Today takes an immediate bold step in initiating those initiatives.”
Added Sandusky Chief of Staff and Transformation Officer Dave Danhoff, “This is a young man who we knew had a lot of experience and has been around basketball his whole life. It’s a situation where we knew we had a winner in Anthony. We have someone here who wants to be a Blue Streak and has a lot of credibility. He brings us instant credibility here.”
Stacey starred at Midview, as he scored 1,720 points and had 704 rebounds for his career. As a senior in the 1994-95 season, he averaged 30.1 points and 13.4 rebounds per game in earning first team All-Ohio honors.
At Bowling Green, Stacey was first team All-MAC in 1998-99 after averaging 18.5 points and 5.6 rebounds, and was named MAC Player of the Year in 1999-00 while averaging 16.8 points and 6 rebounds per game.
His No. 34 is retired at BGSU as the all-time leading scorer (1,938) as well as most steals (241). He was inducted into the BGSU Hall of Fame in 2012.
After graduation, Stacey played professional basketball in Spain for 10 years. Upon returning to the United States, Stacey was a boys varsity assistant to his father, Albert, at Admiral King in 2009-10. In 2010-11, he was an assistant with the Lorain girls program before taking on the head job at Medina.
Stacey also talked about turning Sandusky around in the Northern Ohio League, which can claim two state champions in the past 10 years (Upper Sandusky, 2005; Norwalk, 2014) as well as one of the winningest programs in Ohio history (Willard).
“I know Norwalk, obviously. I know Steve (Gray) really well, and we scrimmaged them last year and he’s done a great job there clearly, just winning a state championship,” Stacey said. “Any time you have a league that has a state champion, which we had at Medina two years ago when Mentor won it, too, it’s serious basketball.
“And that’s what we’ve got to be here. We have to be that team,” he added. “When we came here and played Sandusky, you knew that you had to play an absolute perfect game if you wanted to win. They weren’t going to beat themselves, they were going to create chaos. There was no breathing, so to speak, and that’s what I want to bring back.”
Meanwhile, Stacey talked about building a relationship with a young Blue Streak roster that had just a couple of seniors on the roster this past winter.
“It takes a little while to establish a relationship, but they just need to know we’re going to have fun,” he said. “But we’re going to work extremely hard, the hardest thing they’ve ever been through. But the reward is huge if they’re willing to buy in, and most kids will. It just takes a bit to establish that relationship.
“I don’t expect kids to think it’s like Phil Jackson coming in here or something,” Stacey added. “But building and developing relationships is something I’m good at. I know how to do it. It will take a little while, but we’ll get it going here.”