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State's winningest basketball coach, Ed Pepple, dies at age 88

State's winningest basketball coach, Ed Pepple, dies at age 88

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Editor's Note: During his one season (1967) at the helm of Mark Morris basketball Pepple cobbled together a record of 6-14. While that mark stands as an outlier in his otherwise dominant career it requires a bit more perspective to truly appreciate. The previous year the Monarchs managed just one win, while under Pepple's watch they were able to win more than a quarter of their games including an upset of the fifth ranked team in the state.

Ed Pepple, the Hall of Fame boys basketball coach who coached at Mercer Island High School for 42 years, died Monday morning of cancer at age 88, Pepple’s son, Kyle, confirmed to The Seattle Times.

Known as a tactician and motivator in a maroon blazer, the former Marine was synonymous with Mercer Island hoops since 1968. Pepple led the Islanders to four state championships during his 42 years coaching at the Eastside public school. He accumulated 952 victories overall in 49 years as high-school coach before announcing his retirement in March 2009.

Mark Morris Coaching Records

A page in the Monarchs' team program shows career coaching records for the Mark Morris boys basketball team, including Ed Pepple who wound up with the most wins of any coach in Washington history. Pepple died on Monday, 

Current Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder and 10-year NBA veteran Steve Hawes were among Pepple’s most notable players at Mercer Island. The father of four was proud to have guided a total of 80 boys basketball players to their dreams of playing post-graduation whether at a community college or Division I program.

“Coach Pepple treated basketball with the respect you’d give to a work of art,” former Islanders player Elliot Prasse-Freeman told the Mercer Island Patch in 2012. “He wanted you to understand it like a scientific system, and he treated it as an existential commitment: something to which you devoted a part of yourself, something with which you could grow as a person, if you were willing. This sounds quite serious, but he simultaneously infused the game with an infectious joy — something that I think was possible because he loved the game so much.”

Pepple won his first state championship in 1985 after placing second three times in the previous four years. His 1981 team lost the title game to Shadle Park when the Spokane team scored what appeared to many to be a late basket.

Mercer Island won 15 KingCo titles during Pepple’s reign.

Born in Denver, Pepple lived in six different states because of his stepfather’s position in the Army. Pepple, a 5-foot-9 point guard, graduated from Lincoln High School in 1950, playing for hall of fame coach Bill Nollan as a senior.

After a season suiting up for what is now Everett Community College, Pepple transferred to Utah where he was once voted a team captain and helped the Utes to the NCAA tournament in 1955.

Pepple began his coaching career at Fife High School and coached and taught at Meadowdale and Mark Morris. He was inducted to multiple halls of fame, including the National High School Coaches Association and Washington Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s been a great run,” Pepple told The Seattle Times in 2009 of his high-school coaching career. “Obviously you’d be crazy to stay at a job for 42 years and not enjoy it. I’ve been blessed to do something that I love. I have a lot of great memories and it’s been a magnificent and rewarding experience for me.”

Editor’s Note: During his one season (1967) at the helm of Mark Morris basketball Pepple cobbled together a record of 6-14. While that mark stands as an outlier in his otherwise dominant career it requires a bit more perspective to truly appreciate. The previous year the Monarchs managed just one win, while under Pepple’s watch they were able to win more than a quarter of their games including an upset of the fifth ranked team in the state.

“They ran me out of town, but I don’t blame ‘em,” said Pepple with a grin back in 2004 following a 64-49 victory over Mark Morris at the State tournament as Mercer Island’s coach.

This story will be updated.

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A week and a half into the new year, two familiar faces started off their collegiate careers, as the Pacific Lutheran women’s basketball team — featuring Mark Morris and LCC alum Madison Mosier and Kelso’s Aleixis Kleven — went to Seattle for an exhibition against Seattle Pacific, losing 56-51.

Mosier came off the bench for the Lutes and put in 19 minutes, scoring two points and adding a pair of steals, a rebound, and an assist. Kleven did not appear in the game.

Both teams were seeing their first action in over 300 days, and it looked like it early, with SPU and PLU combining for eight turnovers and just six points in the first four minutes. Once the sides started to find their offense, it kicked off a back-and-forth, close first half. Neither team got out to a lead larger than five points in the first half, with SPU taking a four-point advantage into halftime. That lead stretched to as many as nine in the third quarter, but never got into double-digits as the Division III Lutes stuck around with the Division II Falcons on the road.

Next up: vs. Whitman Jan. 22 (Time TBA) and Jan. 23 (Time TBA)

Samaad Hector — Sacramento State men’s basketball

Hector didn’t get to have his scheduled homecoming Sunday, as the Hornets’ two-game home-and-home series against Portland State was axed due to positive COVID-19 tests in the Sacramento State program.

Should the Hornets get their cases under control, he’ll get to try to add to what’s been a productive first season at the Division I level. In five games, he’s played at least 15 minutes four times. In those four matchups, he’s averaging 8.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Next up: @ Idaho State Jan. 14 (6:05 p.m.) and Jan. 16 (10:05 a.m.)

Peyton Souvenir — Lewis-Clark State women’s basketball

With the Oregon and Washington members of the Cascade Collegiate Conference had to pull out of play in December, the conference pushed its start back to March 1, leaving its two schools in Idaho — Lewis-Clark State and the College of Idaho — to cobble together a schedule as independents in the interim. Saturday, the two started their new slates against each other, and what followed was a one-sided 75-39 drubbing by the Warriors.

Souvenir put up nine points in 21 minutes on a trio of three-pointers, led the Warriors and tied a career high with eight offensive rebounds, and added three assists and a pair of steals.

Lewis-Clark State was supposed to play Whitworth on Tuesday, but that game was canceled when the Pirates had to pause their season due to COVID-19 positive tests.

Through seven games, Souvenir is averaging 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds, and leads the team with 29 assists.

Next up: vs. Simpson Jan. 15 (6 p.m.) and Jan. 16 (2 p.m.)

Desirae Hansen — Portland State women’s basketball

The Vikings found their footing with a two-game sweep of Sacramento State, winning 66-64 in overtime on Thursday and 74-64 on Saturday.

Hansen led PSU with 21 points and nine rebounds in the first win, then became more a distributor in the second with a team-high five assists to go along with seven points.

She still leads the Vikings with 14.3 points per game, and is tied for the team lead in rebounds (7.5 per game) and assists (22).

Next up: vs. Montana State Jan. 14 (7 p.m.) and Jan. 16 (noon)

Kal Schaplow — Eastern Washington women’s basketball

EWU stretched its winning streak to four games with a sweep of Weber State in Cheney over the weekend. Schaplow came off the bench for two minutes in the first game — a 78-57 win — and got in the scoring column with a three-pointer in 71-59 Saturday matinee.

She’s currently 5-of-11 on the season from beyond the arc.

The Eagles were supposed to take on Southern Utah this weekend, but those games have already been canceled due to COVID-19 issues in the EWU program.

Next up: vs. Northern Colorado Jan 21 (6:05 p.m.) and Jan. 23 (12:05 p.m.)

Cherita Daugherty — Southern Utah women’s basketball

Speaking of Southern Utah, the Thunderbirds already found a way to rebound from the canceled series against EWU, setting up a pair of home games against Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Daugherty, who led the NWAC in assists as a sophomore at LCC last season and added 9.9 points per game, has started all seven contests for the Thunderbirds thus far. She’s first on the team with 18 assists, and second at 11.4 points per game.

Next up: vs. UTRGV Jan. 17 (2 p.m.) and Jan. 18 (5:30 p.m.)

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