Girls Basketball

O’Fallon names new girls basketball coach

Two years after taking over the Althoff girls basketball program, Nick Knolhoff has accepted a new challenge.

Knolhoff, who led Althoff to the South Seven Conference title in 2016-17, has been named the new girls basketball coach at O’Fallon Township High School. The 33-year-old takes over Panthers coaching duties from Ryan Massey, who resigned in April after 12 years to take a job in sales with Allergan, a pharmaceutical company.

Knolhoff was officially named as the Panthers new coach at the O’Fallon High School District 203 Board meeting on Tuesday.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity,” Knolhoff said Wednesday. “It was a tough decision to leave Althoff. It’s a class act over there. Everybody from (athletic director) Greg Leib to my assistant coaches, to the players who played for me. It was a very tough decision.

“But for family reasons — closer travel, having a new born that is six months old — and having the chance to coach in the Southwestern Conference at a Class 4A school, it was just too enticing to pass up.”

Knolhoff, who also coached at Wolf Branch Grade School before taking over at Althoff for Todd Hill prior to the 2014-15 season, was 29-29 in his two years with the Crusaders. Althoff struggled to a 9-19 season in Knolhoff’s first season, but this past year Althoff was among the top Class 2A teams in Southern Illinois, finishing 20-10.

Led by a pair of four-year players in seniors Maggie Reimer and Kyleigh Vaught, Althoff advanced to the Class 2A regional title game, where it lost to Mater Dei.

“I sat down with my wife, and we weighed both the pros and cons. Honestly, I didn’t think this kind of opportunity would come so early in my coaching career. It was just too good to pass up.”

Knolhoff takes over a Panthers program that is coming off one of its finest seasons. The Panthers finished 19-10 and were second in the Southwestern Conference behind Class 4A state tournament runner-up Edwardsville.

After being named the Panthers head coach Tuesday, Knolhoff met with his team for the first time and watched his players in their first “open gym” Tuesday night.

The Panthers graduated one of the top players in the area in Marta Durk and a solid post player in Divine Lane. But with one of the top guards in the SWC in senior Jayla Stubblefield returning, along plenty of talent at the underclass levels, the Panthers’ future looks very promising.

“There is so much talent at all levels at O’Fallon right now; it’s really exciting,” Knolhoff said. “I am really thankful for this opportunity and look forward to helping this basketball program continue to be successful. It’s hard to say what the future will bring, but I would say one of the immediate goals is to help this program win a Class 4A regional championship.”