High School Sports

14 local high school coaches honored by Illinois Basketball Coaches Association

Belleville West coach Joe Muniz, shown above in the Class 4A state-championship game March 17, has been named Coach of the Year in Illinois by USA Today High School Sports and American Family Insurance.
Belleville West coach Joe Muniz, shown above in the Class 4A state-championship game March 17, has been named Coach of the Year in Illinois by USA Today High School Sports and American Family Insurance. Special to the News-Democrat

State championship coaches Joe Muniz, of Belleville West, and Jon Kraus, of Okawville, have been honored by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) as IHSA District No. 19 and District No. 20 co-coaches of the year for the 2017-18 season.

Muniz, whose team defeated Chicago Whitney Young in the Class 4A title game to win the first state title in school history, was a co-coach of the year in Illinois High School Association District No. 19.

Muniz led West to undefeated Southwestern Conference season and a record of 32-2. He is one of 14 boys and girls high school basketball coaches in the metro-east who have been recognized for the success of their programs during the past season.

The list of coaches from throughout the state was released this week by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. Coach of the Year Chairman Steve Allen said all coaches on the list are finalists for IBCA Coach of the Year.

Steve Medford, who led Alton Marquette to a 29-1 record was also a District 19 co-coach of the Year on the boys side, while Lebanon coach Chad Cruthis, who led the Greyhounds to a third place finish at the Class 1A Girls State Tournament, was one of four girls coaches listed honored as District 19 co-coaches of the year. Lebanon finished 32-2 and won its first sectional and super-sectional championship this season.

Edwardsville coach Lori Blade, whose team finished 30-2 and placed fourth in the Class 4A state finals, was also recognized, as was O'Fallon first-year coach Nick Knolhoff, who led the Panthers to a mark of 25-5 during the 2017-18 season. Civic Memorial coach Jonathan Denney, who led the Eagles to a record of 28-3 rounds out the list of honorees.

Kraus guided his hometown team to the Class 1A boys state championship and is one of eight IHSA District 20 high school coaches to be honored with co-coach of the year recognition. The Rockets, who place second in the Class 1A state tournament a year ago, finished 27-8 this season.

Also on this list are Wesclin coach Brent Brede, who led the Warriors to a record of 26-5 and a Class 2A regional, and Wayne Harre, of Nashville. In his first season as the Hornets coach after building the Nashville girls program into one of the best in the state, Harre led his team to a mark of 22-8.

Former Alton coach and current Centralia coach Lee Bennett was also honored after leading the Orphans to a mark of 24-5 and a Class 3A regional title.

On the girls side, Central coach Nathan Rueter is one of four coaches honored. Rueter led Central to a 29-5 record and a fourth place finish at the Class 3A state tournament. IBCA Hall of Fame member and longtime Mater Dei coach David Kohnen is also a District 20 co-coach of the year after leading the Knights to a Class 2A sectional crown and a mark of 23-8.

An IBCA Hall of Fame member as a player, Michelle Hasheider-Burianek has also been honored after leading the Lady Rockets to a record of 23-9 a berth in the Class 1A sectional title game where it lost to Lebanon. Nashville coach Doug Althoff, who coached the Hornettes to a Class 2A regional title and a record of 21-7, rounds out the list.

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