Ed Pepple, the Hall of Fame boys basketball coach who coached at Mercer Island High School for 42 years, died Monday 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 suburban Seattle public school. He accumulated 952 victories overall in 49 years as high-school coach before announcing his retirement in March 2009.
Current Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder and 10-year NBA veteran Steve Hawes were among Pepple’s most notable players at Mercer Island. He guided a total of 80 boys basketball players to either a community college or Division I program.
Pepple won his first state championship in 1985 after placing second three times in the previous four years.
His 1981 Islanders lost the title game to Shadle Park, a team featuring Mark Rypien, Scott Poole, Tom Peterson and Mark Anderson and coached by Dave Robertson, when the Highlanders 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 voted a team captain and helped the Utes to the NCAA tournament in 1955.
Pepple was the grandfather of former Whitworth coach Matt Logie, now at Point Loma.
“My grandpa has been a father figure in my life,” Logie said in a 2012 interview with The Spokesman-Review. “He’s influenced my life in so many ways.”
Pepple began his coaching career at Fife High School and also 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.”
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