Principal/coach story makes good prime-time fare

Even if it is not box office material, it still would make an interesting storyline for prime time.

Start with a high school principal who last coached basketball at the collegiate level 15 years ago. The principal is asked to dust off his coaching resume and take on additional duties as varsity girls? coach.

The principal/former coach somewhat hesitantly accepts the assignment and leads the team to a state basketball championship.

Truth may indeed be stranger than fiction, but the truth is that Hillsboro High School principal/coach Dale Honeck completed this unlikely scenario, thanks to the help of a talented bunch of student-athletes and assistant coaches Dennis Boldt and Keli Chisholm.

The opportunity to have a legitimate shot at winning a state title doesn?t come along every day. The odds are better, of course, when you?re surrounded by good athletes. But talent alone doesn?t guarantee success.

It?s somewhat ironic that this group of seniors, who are better known for their volleyball prowess than basketball, wound up winning a state title in basketball.

Correction?they didn?t just win the state title, they dominated the Class 3A field. When you win games by 20 points, there?s no need for fans or coaches to reach for the Alka Seltzer or Tums.

For all practical purposes, the Trojans weren?t seriously threatened in any post-season game. HHS avenged an earlier loss to Hesston by coasting to a 20-point win in the sub-state championship.

And that?s exactly why this story won?t fly in Hollywood.

The Trojans didn?t overcome any significant adversity to win the championship, unless you consider players being coached by their third coach in three years significant adversity.

I read in one newspaper story that in the Class 3A championship game, Sacred Heart was plagued by poor shooting. Funny thing is, every Hillsboro opponent resembled the gang that couldn?t shoot straight.

Perhaps Hillsboro?s defense had something to do with that. Opponents were limited to 30-some points, which is amazing.

The seniors rightly deserve credit for much of the success, but talented as they were, they didn?t do it alone. The Trojans developed some depth, including the play of some underclassmen, to become a dominating team.

What coach/principal Honeck did really isn?t that easy. You don?t just walk in, become head coach, and walk away with a state title. I imagine that some coaches shook their heads at what transpired.

Honeck?s revival as basketball coach shows that coaching is a lot like riding a bicycle. Once you?ve done it, you never forget how.

The coach/principal claims that it?s one and done for his coaching encore. If so, I don?t blame him. There are plenty of reasons why you don?t see more principals coach basketball, although there?s at least one group of student athletes in Hillsboro who are glad their principal did.

Of course, the bar is set unrealistically high for whoever is named the next coach.

But as a result of graduation, a number of players who had an incredible experience this year in back-up roles will have the opportunity to take on more prominent roles next season.

Congratulations Coach Honeck and Trojans for giving us a storyline we won?t soon forget.

* * *

While handing out kudos, don?t overlook the accomplishments of the Tabor College women?s basketball team led by coach Rusty Allen.

They didn?t win the conference or post-season tournament, but they qualified for nationals, and they again won a game at the national tournament before being eliminated.

There?s something inherently wrong with playing a national tournament game at 8:30 a.m., yet that?s what the Tabor women did recently at the NAIA tournament in Iowa. At least their next game started two days later at noon.

Ideally, no game should start before noon, but when you?ve got a 32-team bracket and only a few days to play it, you practically have to play round the clock.

Wouldn?t it make more sense for games to start at 1 a.m. than 8:30 a.m?

As I recall, a lot of college students don?t even know there is an 8:30 a.m., but most know what it?s like to be wide awake at 1 a.m.

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