Girls basketball

Heath, Haluska resign girls basketball coaching positions

2014-03-12T17:00:00Z 2014-03-14T15:13:12Z Heath, Haluska resign girls basketball coaching positionsJim Peters and Hillary Smith Times Staff nwitimes.com
March 12, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

Two more Northwest Indiana high school girls basketball coaches have resigned their positions this week.

Less than a month removed from its winningest season in program history, LaPorte is looking for a new coach after Skeeter Heath resigned after 12 years on the bench. He led the Slicers to a 20-3 finish and a Duneland Athletic Conference title this season.

"I want to see Jaclyn play in college," said Heath, whose daughter, Jaclyn Heath, will attend North Alabama. "It's not easy to get there and when the opportunity arises, I want to be able to go. We've also had some trouble with numbers the last few years so maybe some new blood will reinvigorate that. Those things kind of go hand in hand. It's a good time."

Meanwhile, Morton posted an opening for a girls basketball coach after Tom Haluska confirmed that was told last week that he would be replaced.*

Morton athletic director Roy Richards said that he is looking for a coach that has some of the same qualities that Haluska brought to the job.

"We want someone with his work ethic, his passion and his knowledge," Richards said. "We also need someone that fits into our system and works well with the teachers, coaches and other staff at Morton."

Haluska won three conference championships in three years with the Governors.

Morton was 11-12 this season and lost 37-36 in the sectional semifinal to Lowell. A win over E.C. Central in the sectional quarterfinal was the first postseason win for the Govs since 2009.

"I honestly believe that next year they'll be even better," Haluska said. "There's talent coming in and the talent that we've had in the past has gotten better. I feel a little saddened I won't be there for that."

Haluska took over a team that was 2-17 in 2010-11, and lost to Griffith 70-6. This season, the Govs beat the Panthers in the Hanover Central Tournament.

The resignations follow that of Joe Otis, who stepped down Tuesday as girls basketball coach at Valparaiso.

A Valpo High and Valpo University graduate, Otis coached boys basketball at LaPorte from 1981 into the 2001-2002 season, amassing 296 wins with eight sectional and three regional titles and a state finals trip in 1997. He came to Valpo in 2010, going 65-27 over four seasons as boys coach before resigning to take the girls job. The Vikings went 9-11 this season.

Heath, once an assistant coach at Merrillville, led LaPorte to three straight winning seasons, building around Jaclyn's class from their freshman year. After consecutive one-win finishes in 2008-9 and 2009-10, the Slicers posted seven victories in 2010-11, followed by 13 in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

"That group got us back on the right track," he said. "With my daughter being in the group and coaching them since they were in sixth grade, we got really close. The end was a little disappointing, but it was a great year. I have a lot of good memories. It's certainly been a fun ride, the last three, four years especially."

Despite the departure of the talented senior class, the Slicers have a strong starting point to build from with freshman Nicole Konieczny and sophomore Kyleigh Kubik.

"Somebody just needs to be a little more involved at the middle school level than I've been," Heath said. "Cassie Cepeda has done a lot down there. Things are picking up as far as involvement, so I feel good about that."

*This reflects a change to an earlier version of the story. The Times regrets the error.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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