High school basketball coaches are instrumental to a
program's success on and off the court, taking the mantle of leader, life
coach and role model to their young athletes.
it's hard to measure off-the-court impact without fully knowing
the back story, on-court success is easily measured in wins, losses and challenges overcome throughout the season.
Today, we took a look
at the six finalists for MaxPreps National Coach of the Year, including Mike Thompson of McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.),
Glenn Farello of Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), Carl Kremer of Archbishop
Moeller (Cincinnati), Chris Davis of Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.),
Pat Holmes of La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) and Michael Oliver of Curie
Each Coach of the Year finalist faced different challenges to bring their team
success, read on for a deeper look at the journey each coach faced in 2018-19.
his 11th year as McEachern boys basketball head coach, Mike Thompson is
heading to the state title game for the first time in his coaching
career. Thompson, who also serves as a physical education teacher and freshman football coach at McEachern, has led the Indians to the top
spot in the national polls with a 31-0 record on the year.
his last four seasons at the school, Thompson has flirted with a state
championship multiple times, reaching at least the state quarterfinals
each year and coming into the state tournament as the favorite in each
of the past three seasons. His first state-title contest comes Saturday against the defending GHSAA 7A state champions Meadowcreek
The Indians have already captured event titles at the City of Palms Classic and Bass Pro Tournament of Champions —
two of the most challenging regular season tournaments in all of high
school basketball. McEachern also boasts a 9-0 record against teams that have
been featured in the Top 25 rankings at some point this season.
has dominated because of stifling defense, a high level of intensity in
their play and unprecedented chemistry dating back to youth league
basketball. This group showed a lot of grit throughout the season,
starting with a late comeback win in their first game of the season over
Holy Spirit Prep (Atlanta). The Indians also faced a 15-point
deficit against Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia) at the Cancer Research
Classic and most recently won a hard-fought overtime game over Norcross (Ga.)
in the state semifinals.
What a difference a year
makes. Millbrook finished 16-13 last season, exiting the NCHSAA 4A
state tournament in the second round after a 91-72 blowout loss vs.
Heritage (Wake Forest).
This season, the Wildcats weren't expected
to be vastly improved, losing their top two scorers from last season to
graduation, while featuring virtually the same lineup as last year.
Millbrook has shocked many, with an incredible turnaround that has them sitting at 27-1 on the year —
set to play No. 22
South Central on Saturday in the NCSAA 4A state semifinals.
How many coaches in the nation can lose their best two players by the
first weekend of the season and still manage to finish tied atop the
toughest conference in high school basketball?
That's exactly what the
Panthers head man Farello accomplished this season, losing
5-star 2020 Jeremy Roach
in the preseason and Virginia Tech pledge
in year's second game —
both to torn ACL's. Paul
VI finished the regular season 18-2 in WCAC play, while taking
No. 1 McEachern and No. 3 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
to the wire in non-conference play, starting a freshman at point
guard to boot.
The Lakers program was at an all-time high after winning their first GEICO Nationals title in 2016-17. However, after the program's most successful season, La Lumiere lost head
coach Shane Heirman to the college ranks.
His successor was Holmes, an assistant under Heirman, who led the Lakers
to a 24-4 record and a first-round exit in last year's GEICO Nationals. Holmes has returned the program to the top of high school hoops this season,
leading this group to the school's first ever unbeaten regular season
with a strong chance to capture their second GEICO Nationals title in
Archbishop Moeller captured its fourth state title in program
history last season, and its first since 2007, behind an experienced group that featured four seniors in the starting lineup.
After losing the bulk of
their production to gradation, the Fighting Crusaders weren't
expected to be as strong this year. Kremer, however, had other plans and has guided this
group to even more success thus far in the season —
with a 23-0 record entering state tournament play. Archbishop Moeller is ranked No. 14 in the MaxPreps Top 25, sporting a winning streak of 44
games dating back to last season.
Condors finished last season 23-5, falling 80-73 to Whitney Young (Chicago) in the Sectional Final. This week, they can avenge that loss in the same exact spot as last season,
with the same opponent.
This time, Curie enters as the favorite to capture the IHSA 4A crown for the first time in
program history, ranked seventh in the nation with a 32-1 record on the
season. Despite losing nine seniors off last season's roster, Oliver has
guided this team to new heights, positioned for its best
finish in program history.