Bob Filiere has one of the seats from the Troy-Luckey High School gymnasium in the den of his Monclova Township home.
It’s one of the ways he chooses to remember his father, the late, legendary basketball coach Doyce “Frenchy” Filiere.
Bob, a retired Rossford Junior High guidance counselor, has three scrapbooks filled to the brim with newspaper articles about his father’s coaching days, including one feature published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Coach Filiere was inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968 after his Troy-Luckey and Eastwood teams went 337-84 over 19 seasons. He was voted Class B Coach of the Year in 1956 by the Associated Press and in 1959 the Ohio state legislature passed a resolution honoring him as one of Ohio’s outstanding men.
Coach Filiere’s teams won three county championships, eight district championships, and 18 of 19 teams qualified for district tournament play. He coached two Third Team All-Ohio members and several honorable mention all-state selections, plus son Bob was voted First Team All-Ohio in 1957.
“The kids who wanted to play basketball, wanted to play for him, there was no doubt,” Bob said. “He was tough on all of us, and he didn’t spare the rod. That’s literally the way it was. My dad was just very intense in everything that he did.
“We were very fundamental, and we were hardly ever allowed to have a turnover,” Bob continued. “We didn’t want to get 12 or 13 turnovers in six games, for him.”
The 1957 team was the Associated Press No. 1 ranked Class B team, and the 1956 team was No. 3, although son Bob will say the ’56 team was the better team.
In 1955-56, the Troy Trojans went 25-2 and reached the regional finals. In 1956-57, Troy was 20-2. Bob says the ’57 team got its No. 1 ranking because of the success of the ‘56 team.
“There were times when I wasn’t even close to being the best player,” Bob, a ’57 grad, said. “Our good players were one year ahead of me.”
The 1956 team scored points, too, defeating Lake 72-58, Gibsonburg 96-61, Risingsun 84-46, Olney 84-69, Tontogony 94-52, Oak Harbor 82-52, and Rossford 87-77.
Troy-Luckey won its tenth Eastern Wood County League championship that season under Filiere’s tenure, and was led by 6-foot-1 Third Team All-Ohio center Curt Juergens, who averaged 18.7 points. Other starters were 5-6 guard Joe Sandwisch (15.8), 5-4 guard “Bobby” Filiere (13.2), 6-0 forward Roger Radeloff (11.5), and 6-2 forward Gerald Ernsthausen.
“Joe (Sandwisch) was like the best little player that I ever played with,” Bob said. “Curt and Joe were the really good players. We were not as small my junior year because we had Curt.”
Unfortunately, none of Coach Filiere’s teams reached the state tournament, but that team came the closest. During the ‘56 tournament, the Trojans were nicknamed “the Giant killers” after defeating a taller Sycamore team, 64-59, in the regional semifinal.
“I would compare Curt Juergens to anyone,” Bob said. “When we went through that tournament, he played against guys who were 6-6, and he would score 27 points and play defense and get our rebounds.”
But in front of 5,000 fans at a packed University of Toledo Field House, Troy-Luckey took on Willshire and its 6-9 center, Gary Kesler, in the regional final. Kesler scored 50 points as the Van Wert County team defeated Troy, 79-64, to advance to the state tournament.
In ‘57, the same season Middletown’s Jerry Lucas was named the state’s outstanding player in Class AA, Bob Filiere received the same honor in one poll for Class A (small school Class B became Class A). Troy beat Lake, 79-48, and Rossford, 56-46, during the regular season, but was “upset” by the Bulldogs, 53-52, in a sectional tournament game at Clyde.
Coach Filiere also coached Eastwood’s first three teams after the consolidation of three township school districts two years later, and his 1959-60 Eastwood team went 22-2, losing to Scott in the Class AA regional tournament.
Anyone who knew him or watched Filiere coach has an anecdote or two to tell. Bob says two other cage coaching legends, Northview girls coach Jerry Sigler and former Owens Community College boys coach Jim Welling (now at Central Catholic), have passed anecdotes on to him. Sigler, who is closing in on 600 career wins, and Welling, who won two junior college national championships at Owens, are both Eastwood graduates.
Bob, who resembles his father today in appearance and stature, still follows high school basketball in the Toledo area. He ran into Sigler years ago without knowing he attended Eastwood.
“Some years ago, (Sigler) he said, ‘I learned a lot of my early stuff from Frenchy Filiere,’ obviously,” Bob said. “And I said to myself, ‘Who in the heck is this guy?’ But since then we’ve become good friends.”
The Eastwood school district is once again honoring Bob’s father with its annual Filiere Night, which has been moved to the upcoming Eastwood boys’ game, January 17, in which the Eagles host Otsego.
They are inviting players, cheerleaders, managers, scorekeepers, family members, and fans to attend. If anyone wishes to sit in a reserved section, call Liz Haas at 419-837-5993. After the game, a ceremony will be held at the school.