2015-12-29 / Front Page

Cloverdale High School’s 1966 Final Four Team Returns To ‘Clover Country’

Staff Report


Pictured above are, left to right: assistant coach Al Tucker, head coach Jim Miller, Jim Coon, Cathy McCullough Kirby, Dick Stallcop, Susie Jent Denny, Rick Ford, Diana Dunagan Holsapple, Bill Price (representing his late brother John), Rod Hervey, Jerry Sutherlin (manager), and Louis Cline (manager). (Staff Photo) Pictured above are, left to right: assistant coach Al Tucker, head coach Jim Miller, Jim Coon, Cathy McCullough Kirby, Dick Stallcop, Susie Jent Denny, Rick Ford, Diana Dunagan Holsapple, Bill Price (representing his late brother John), Rod Hervey, Jerry Sutherlin (manager), and Louis Cline (manager). (Staff Photo) Cloverdale has never won a state championship, but in 1966 the Clovers did play their way into the state’s Final Four, led by Rick Ford, Rob Jones, Dick Stallcop, Jim Coon, Don Morris, Rod Hervey, Mike Sutherlin, Roy Sandy, John Truax, and John Price. At the helm were a pair of future Cloverdale coaching legends – Jim Miller and Al Tucker.

On Friday, December 18, the school paid tribute to the squad during halftime of the Cloverdale versus Brown County boys’ basketball game, with each former team member, cheerleader, and manager in attendance receiving a warm “Clover Country” welcome as they made their way onto the newly dubbed Tucker Court.

In 1965 and 1966 the Clovers became a true Cinderella story, going to the semi-state in ‘65 before falling to Triton Central

70-67 then all the way to the Final Four in 1966 under coach Miller before losing to Indianapolis Tech 58-51 and ending with the best record in the state at 27-2. Tech was led in ‘66 by senior Mike Price, who would play at Illinois. His brother Jim, who would go on to play at Louisville and in the NBA, was a sophomore. Tickets outside Hinkle Fieldhouse were reportedly going for a then-unthinkable $50.

Wrote Bob Collins of the Indianapolis Star: “Tech got tangled in some wild Clover and almost ended on the short end of one of the biggest upsets in tourney history.” Cloverdale trailed just 52-51 with 1:51 left in the game, but Tech survived to win by seven.

Ford, a sophomore member of the ‘66 squad, would go on to set a number of scoring marks as a three-year starter for the Clovers, including a high game of 53 points against Eminence as a junior. He went on to average 27.8 points and 14.3 rebounds as a senior, ending his career as the high school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,386 points – a record that still stands today.

Ford became an Indiana All-Star in 1968 and played for Indiana University, where he set a Big 10 free throw percentage record of .883 in 1970. He later coached varsity basketball at Southmont and Cascade.

Miller and Tucker would also earn legendary status both in the Cloverdale community and outside of its borders. In addition to leading the Clovers to the Final Four at Butler University’s newly named Hinkle Fieldhouse in ‘66, Miller returned to the Final Four twenty-eight years later with New Albany High School at the RCA Dome. He also took his basketball expertise overseas, where he helped conduct basketball clinics and exchanges in Africa and Australia. With a career record of 607-251, he ranks in the top ten for all-time career victories, and is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Tucker, a 1957 graduate of Patricksburg High School, later assumed the head coaching job at Cloverdale from Miller. He was a part of seven sectional championships, and coached the Clovers to 256 career wins. The school recently recognized his contributions, both on the sidelines and in the classroom as an educator, by naming its gymnasium floor Tucker Court.

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