Success a family affair for tourney-bound Ravens

St. Thomas More-Girls' basketball-Coach Cyrstal Gordon by .

Crystal Gordon says she’s always kept in close contact with her brother. “Our mom has raised us to be really close,” she said. “Ches and I probably talk five times a day. Even before this we did.” (Delaware State News file photos)

MAGNOLIA — Even though they were born 11 months apart, people call them twins.

Cheston Boyd and his sister, Crystal, are just that much alike.

Even as adults, they both had three kids — in the same order: Girl, boy, girl.

“It’s funny, we always tease them about how much their lives mirror each other,” said the Boyds’ sister, Canisha. “It was never intentional. But it’s just funny that they’re so similar — even though they think they’re complete opposites.”

So maybe it’s not surprising that the Boyds both ended up as high school basketball coaches — and at the same school, St. Thomas More.
And now here are their two programs, both having similar breakout seasons at the same time.

St. Thomas More-Boys' basketball-Coach Cheston Boyd-2 by .

Cheston Boyd came to St. Thomas More after sister Crystal’s son, Corey Gordon, enrolled there. He was only going to help out with the boys’ team.
But when the Ravens suddenly needed a head coach three years ago, Cheston stepped in.

The Raven girls are seeded fifth in the DIAA state tournament, which starts today with eight first-round games. St. Thomas More (16-2) has a first-round bye, opening the tourney on Thursday by hosting the winner of today’s Dover-Lake Forest matchup.

The Raven boys (15-5) are seeded 14th and host No. 19 St. Mark’s (13-7) in a 7 p.m. first-round game on Wednesday.

“It’s a little crazy,” said Canisha, who is one of Crystal’s assistant coaches. “Just because, I don’t think we expected it to happen so quickly. We knew it could happen. (But) we figured it would take time.”

Both Boyds started their high school careers at Queen Anne’s in Maryland but graduated from Dover High after their family moved to the area,

St. Thomas More-Boys' basketball-Corey Gordon by .

Corey Gordon admits he didn’t know what to think when he first heard that his mother was going to be coaching at his school.

It was hardly just coincidence that they both ended up at St. Thomas More, though.

Cheston came to the Magnolia school after Crystal’s son, Corey Gordon, enrolled there. He was only going to help out with the boys’ team.

But, when the Ravens suddenly needed a head coach three years ago, Cheston stepped in.

So, when St. Thomas More unexpectedly needed a girls’ head coach midway through the season, the principal called Cheston. He immediately thought of Crystal, who had been an assistant coach at Dover.

“She (the principal) said, ‘Who do you know?’” said Cheston. “I said there’s one person I know in girls’ basketball that I can trust.”

Cheston said the two have worked side by side, both building their programs from the ground up.

The boys’ squad went 13-26 over the past two season. The girls’ team was 12-28.

Both teams have had a number of new players come into the program in the last couple years.

“This whole process, we try to do it together,” said Cheston. “It’s family. I want to see her do well, too.

“The summer leagues that I was into, I would tell her about. … She got her girls into AAU, I got my boys into AAU. There’s pretty much no secrets between us.”

Sometimes, Cheston even sits on the bench with his sisters during girls’ games to help out. Crystal, whose last name is now Gordon, goes to boys’ games to see her son play and her brother coach.

Corey Gordon admits he didn’t know what to think when he first heard that his mother was going to be coaching at his school.

“It was kind of odd at first,” said Gordon, who is a junior on the boys’ squad. “I never really had her in sports, I guess. It was kind of weird having her here.

“But it’s good,” he added. “She just leaves me to myself really. She doesn’t check on me as much.”

Still, Gordon says that if his uncle knows something, his mom’s probably going to know it sooner or later.

“It’s kind of annoying sometimes but I guess I got used to it,” he said with a laugh. “They talk to each other every day for hours.”

Crystal says she’s always kept in close contact with her brother.

“Our mom has raised us to be really close,” she said. “Ches and I probably talk five times a day. Even before this we did.

“I think we’re really competitive with each other,” Crystal added. “We kind of go back and forth with each other about it (their teams’ success) in a fun kind of way.”

Crystal said she and her brother act as the voice of reason in each other’s lives.

“We have our moments,” she said with a laugh. “But one thing I love is that we have checks and balances. We’re able to tell each other, ‘this is what needs to happen.’ It’s a good thing.”

“One thing that’s been great about the whole experience — and I wouldn’t have it any other way — is the fact that she’s been open to learning and criticism and so have I,” Cheston agreed. “I think we help each other.”

Of course, there’s one person who takes a special pride in both Raven squads — the Boyds’ mom, Colleen Boyd, She makes it to every game despite the fact that she’s dealing with cancer.

Both Boyds agree that the best thing about this season is what it’s done for their players, their programs and the school.

“These are some good kids and they’re working really hard,” said Crystal. “To me, that’s what it’s all about.”

Still, the family’s connection to both Raven programs gives them a personal stake in the ups and downs of being in the playoffs.

Crystal calls this state tournament week “nervewracking more than anything” for the family.

“Nobody in the family’s getting any sleep right now,” said Cheston.

But if there’s a major difference between the Boyds, Crystal says it’s that she’s an introvert while Cheston is much more outgoing.

So there’s a difference in their approach to this week, too.

“I kind of have a really big smile on the inside,” Crystal said about the state tournament. “But I try to keep the environment as normal as I can for the girls because they’re really young. I think they’re surprised as well.”

Cheston, on the other hand, calls the state tourney “showtime for us.”

“I think more than nerves, I think it’s exciting,” he said. “They’re kind of drooling at the opportunity to play.”

One way or another, this is clearly going to be a big week for the Boyd family.

“It’s going to be an interesting week, if nothing more,” said Canisha. “It’s going to be very interesting.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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