A former head boys basketball coach at North Clay High School and a longtime member of the Belleville West boys basketball coaching staff, Seth Garrett was ready for something different.
Late Tuesday night, Garrett got it when he was named as the girls basketball coach at West.
“I’m excited. I’m ready for a new challenge,’’ Garrett said. “I’ve had the great experience of working as a member of the Belleville West boys coaching staff for 10 years. But eventually you want the chance to implement your own ideas in your own program and then see them on court. I’m looking forward to that.’’
Garrett takes over the Maroons coaching reins from Clayton Fisher, who resigned following the 2014-15 season after nine years. Fisher, who compiled a record of 163-96, led West to a 25-6 record this past year. The Maroons won the Class 4A O’Fallon Regional before ending their season with a semifinal loss to Edwardsville in the Pekin Sectional.
An assistant athletic director at West for the past two years, Garrett also becomes the second member of his family to coach a major Maroons’ sports program. His wife, Casey, is the Maroons softball coach. Garrett said Casey has tried to help prepare him for the transition of coaching girls sports at West.
“Coach (Clayton) Fisher did a great job with this basketball program. They won a lot of basketball games and a few regional titles and the girls program is in very good shape. I hope to continue that level of success and hopefully build on it as we go along here,’’ Garrett said. “Casey and I talked through it a lot, about the fact that I had never coached girls and the transition in style from the boys game. The one thing about girls basketball is that you’ve got to keep numbers up and the girls involved.
“One thing about girls basketball, which is a little different then boys, is that the girls still have some history when it comes to the fundamentals of the game. The girls game is still more about the fundamentals of passing and shooting the basketball. The boys game has gotten away from that a little bit because it’s become so fast and so physical. There is so much pure athleticism in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching boys basketball, but in terms of the pure fundamentals of the game, I think you’ve got more of that with the girls.’’
Garrett, 36, is a graduate of Patoka High School where he played baseball and basketball — the only two boys sports offered at the tiny Class 1A school. He then went on to McKendree University, where he was a member of the Bearcats baseball program and also played junior-varsity basketball.
Garrett then taught at North Clay High School for four years, where he was an assistant coach for two years and a head coach for one season.
“We weren’t very good,’’ Garrett said, laughing. “We were 4-22 and we beat one team twice.’’
From North Clay, Garrett moved on to West where he has been for the 10 years. Garrett has been the coach of the Maroons sophomore and junior varsity teams during that time.
Garrett could face a bit of a reloading process as he takes over the Maroons. The Maroons will lose two of the top scorers in school history in Shay Fluker and Imani Berry as well as starting point guard Alliyah St. John.
Among those expected to return include Sydney Thurwalker, Anjanice Jones, Jamie Adams and Erika Harvey.
“First of all you don’t replace girls like Shay, Imani and Alliyah. They are three of the top players in school history,’’ Garrett said. “But we’ve got some good players coming back. We may be able to get some volleyball players out and coach Fisher tells me that there are some good players at the younger levels who have shown promise. I’m excited about the future.’’
Garrett said that along with the fundamentals, playing good defense will be stressed on his basketball team.
“I used to be very offensive minded. Defense was just something you did until you got the ball back,’’ Garrett said. “But in working with coach (Joe) Muniz with the boys program,I’ve learned how important playing good fundamental defense can be,’’ Garrett said. “No matter how many good offensive players you have, there are going to be nights when the ball just doesn’t go in. Those are the nights you need your defense to keep you in the game.’’
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.