Unexpected head coaching changes with two of the area’s most high-profile basketball programs are at the forefront of the boys high school season.
The regular season begins Friday, one week after the girls basketball season started.
Wayne and Dunbar, unquestionably the area’s best boys programs going back at least the last decade, both are under new guidance. And both have new coaches for surprising reasons.
Nate Martindale takes over at Wayne. He was promoted when Kevin Kuwik, previously a University of Dayton assistant during the Flyers’ Archie Miller era, resigned to become the director of basketball operations at Atlantic-10 rival Davidson. Kuwik lasted less than five weeks as Wayne’s coach.
The Warriors position initially opened when veteran coach Travis Trice heeded his daughter’s plea and switched over to coach Wayne’s girls. That position opened the Sonya Miller was not retained as Wayne’s girls coach.
Martindale has been the Warriors JV coach the last six seasons, a time in which Wayne gradually exceeded the success of its football program under Trice, winning a Division I boys state championship in 2015. Trice won 197 games in 10 seasons as the Warriors boys coach, an average of nearly 20 wins per season.
“It’s been an unbelievable opportunity for me,” Martindale said. “I’m extremely grateful and thankful for all the people that have given me an opportunity to be in this position.”
The Dayton Public School district’s decision not to bring back Pete Pullen as Dunbar’s coach was a polarizing decision. Pullen, 63, led Dunbar to four D-II state championships in 13 seasons and two other state final fours. Citing a newly reformed hiring process, that success didn’t prevent the DPS school board from voting 4-2 not to renew him as coach in September.
“I have to live with that,” Pullen said after the DPS decision. “I teach my players how to lose graciously. This is a loss for me so I’m going to walk out with my head up high. I know there’s better things for me.”
It’s on Chuck Taylor to maintain what Pullen built at Dunbar. A Nettie Lee Roth grad, Taylor was a standout starting guard on the 1981 Roth Class AAA state title team. He has extensive AAU coaching experience and previously was a Stivers middle school boys coach.
Here are other notable storylines to follow:
• Last season was the one that got away from Trotwood-Madison (26-3). The high-scoring (89.9 points) and runnin’ Rams appeared poised to win their first state championship. That’s because they were paired against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the D-II state championship and had walloped the Irish 100-61 in the regular season.
But Akron SVSM hit a last-second shot and stunned Trotwood 62-60. Graduated from that outstanding Trotwood team is D-II state player of the year Torrey Patton, now a key freshman sub at Akron. But there’s plenty of returning firepower for coach Rocky Rockhold in senior Myles Belyeu (18.7 points) and junior Amari Davis (16.1). Carl Blanton, a starter at tight end for the D-II state championship football team, also returns.
• Trotwood knocked Dunbar out in a D-II regional final last season. If Dunbar is to return to that level of play it’ll have to do so without seniors DeVon Baker (16.6 ponts) and Caleb McConnell (13.9). Both transferred to the relatively new SPIRE Academy at Geneva, Ohio, last summer.
Baker has said he has offers from Wright State, Miami and Toledo. McConnell lists Massachusetts, Ohio, Toledo and West Virginia.
“We (saw) that it was better for us,” Baker said last summer. “We can learn more and get more exposure and get stronger and faster.”
• Springfield (23-4) and Northmont (20-5) are coming off great seasons with significant graduation losses. Springfield lost four-year standout Danny Davis (17.9 points), now a home-run receiver in football at unbeaten Wisconsin.
Northmont graduated nearly every key player with the exception of Jabari Perkins (7.3) and Donavin Wallace. Seven of its top returning eight players were starters on the football team that went 7-4 and qualified for the D-I, Region 3 playoffs.
• The good news at Franklin (18-5) is Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division player of the year Payton Knott (11.8 points) returns. The wincing news is Ryan Montgomery (11.5) and Braden White (5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds) both are out for the season with football injuries.
But the Wildcats have won six straight SWBL divisional titles. That’s a winning formula that coach Brian Bales has perfected with 186 wins in 12 seasons. Of course, that also includes an unprecedented run during the Luke Kennard era and Franklin has been bumped up to D-I.
Credit: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Credit: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
• This will be the 33rd season for Joe Staley to lead Chaminade Julienne (14-11), among the state’s longest-serving coaches at one school (422 wins). He’ll have to find a replacement for since-graduated standout guard Christian Montague (Walsh).
Likewise for Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North rival and Alter coach Eric Coulter. The Knights graduated North player of the year Dominic Laravie, a key freshman sub at Chicago.
That could bode well for Carroll (12-13), which made an unlikely D-II playoff run last season. Returning for Tim Cogan’s Patriots are senior Eli Ramsey (13.9 points), senior TK Robinson (9.0), junior Matt Cogan (6.3), Tim’s son, and junior Simon Jefferson.
• Just like Wayne and Dunbar, if Tri-Village maintains its lofty position it’ll be with a new coach. Josh Sagester resigned and will remain the school district’s superintendent.
Succeeding Sagester is Mackenzie Perry, Bradford’s coach the last two seasons.
• The 16th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop is anchored in its familiar midseason Martin Luther King holiday weekend on Jan. 12-15 at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. Thirty-eight teams will play 20 games. As a bonus, Springboro will meet Tippecanoe in the second showing of a Flyin’ girls game.
The showcase is a mixture of area boys teams, state and regional powers and high-end prep programs, including Findlay Prep (Nev.), IMG Academy (Fla.) and Prolific Prep (Calif.).
Contact the Cox Media Group Ohio (Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News) with scores and results as soon as possible after games by email only at email@example.com. Include final score, leading scorers each team, team records, a brief summary, noteworthy stats, contact name and phone number. A daily roundup of high school results will be posted on each paper’s website.