LANSING | Kameron Dickens said when the T.F. South girls basketball entered the gym for practice, they knew no matter how down or tired they were, coach Steve Breshock would put a smile on their faces.
"He would either be smiling or he would say something sarcastic to make you smile," Dickens said. "He always was in a good mood and he always got us in a good mood."
Winning does that. The Rebels did it 20 times this year against six losses. They were one win short of tying the program record for wins, set in 2008-09.
It was quite an improvement from the 9-15 record in 2012-13.
The Rebels were a small team with big hearts, a trait that included their coach. For leading the Rebels to a 20-6 mark, Breshock is Times Coach of the Year. He also won the award in 2008-09.
"We might be tired, but he would come in after plowing snow for like 18-20 hours straight and he was ready to go," Dickens said. "That shows how dedicated he is and how he wanted us to succeed. We had a lot of respect for him."
It showed on the court as past teams had more talent, but did not fare as well.
"We listened to him and did what he told us," senior Ninah Bertrand said. "He had patience with us and we were willing to learn. He taught us a lot and not just about basketball. "
Breshock, who is 132-74 in eight seasons at his prep alma mater, said he learned a lot from this team.
"By far, this is the most fun I have had coaching," Breshock said. "I love those kids. They really busted their tails every day in practice and they wanted to get better. We never beat ourselves. We played against some good teams and just didn't get it done, but they went out there and worked to get every rebound, every loose ball."
He said they put the extra time in.
"We have to adjust to what we have. Hillcrest runs that 1-3-1 trap and (Coach) John (Maniatis) has the talent to do it," Breshock said. "We had to work on things and we showed them how to come off screens and they listened and did it. We know because of our lack of size, we were going to be a perimeter shooting team, so they worked and worked on their shooting all summer."
Breshock, who owns American Lawn landscaping service with his brother Mike, said late-night and early morning snow plowing is a great time to think strategy.
"I ran through plays in my head while I was plowing parking lots, driveways," Breshock said. "You are all alone in the truck and a lot of things go through your mind. You get a little break and you go over what you might have done different in a game or what you may work on in practice the next day."
The 1975 T.F. South grad has coached for several years and coached his son Adam and daughter Tara in grade school basketball. He also coached Tara at the lower levels at South. She is now his assistant. He still remembers playing for Reavis Elementary School for Lon Brewe, the father of current T.F. South athletic director Marc Brewe.
"We had six elementary schools in Lansing and that was our conference," Breshock said. I also remember going to the Hammond Civic Center and watching the Indiana sectionals. Packed houses and I remember Bishop Noll with Tommy Ispas and how they used to hold the ball."
While Breshock is firm on discipline and pushes the kids, they have one thing that sticks out.
"Those doughnuts from Calumet Bakery are the best," Dickens said. "His friend (Kerry Moore) owns it and he always gets us treats. Sort of a reward for playing hard."
Added Bertrand: "I remember the first time I had one and now I am going to miss them."
And the coach that brought them.