Prep basketball: Riverside coaches reinstated
Riverside boys basketball Coach Dusty Herscher and his staff will get the chance to continue their rebuilding project at Kanawha County's eastern-most high school.
Herscher and assistants Matt Kelly and Pat Jones were reinstated as coaches Thursday, ending months of uncertainty after serving suspensions for allegedly allowing an ineligible player to participate in a game last season.
The coaches were not in attendance, but had representation at a Thursday meeting of county school officials held at the high school, so they just waited patiently for any news.
"All parties came to an agreement and I'm the head coach effective immediately," said Herscher, who couldn't comment further on the circumstances of the meeting.
The news was good for junior Tyus Wood, who averaged 12.6 points this past season for the Warriors.
"I'm real happy," Wood said. "I feel like at Riverside he teaches more than basketball. He's always stressing our grades and stuff. They really do care a lot. If we mess up at school, they're the first ones to tell us to get our heads on straight."
On Jan. 30, a player who did not participate in the mandated 14 practices played briefly in a game against Parkersburg. The coaches were suspended two games later following an 83-64 win over Ripley on Feb. 4.
Herscher, Kelly and Jones were not permitted to attend games or practices as Riverside's season was winding down.
Riverside girls basketball Coach Scott Garretson took over the program for two games, coaching the Warriors in an 88-45 defeat to Beckley at Quincy and guiding them to a 59-45 win over Greater Beckley Christian.
McKinley Middle School Coach Chad Metten, whose season had concluded, took over for Garretson and went 1-3, including a 79-61 loss to Beckley in the Region 4 co-final at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center. It marked the first time since 2002 that Riverside had come within one victory of the State Tournament.
After the Beckley game, Metten said he wished the best for the Riverside coaching staff.
"I want everybody back and so do the boys," Metten said. "Marcus (Reed) and Nick (Light) had four different coaches. We told them when we took the job that we're going to be here for them, we're going to stick with it. We want that to happen.
"You get attached to these kids and they start believing in you. They're used to coaches turning and leaving on them and we're not going to do that."
The school has not had a winning boys basketball team since the 2002-03 season, when the Warriors finished 16-7 in the last campaign for Coach Jim Fout.
Fout resigned shortly before the 2003-04 season opener. Assistant Tom Watkins served as interim head coach with help from assistants Steve Crosier and Cliff Jackson. Watkins remained in place until nine games into the 2007-08 season when he stepped down with a 34-67 record. Danny Hill finished coaching that year and went 4-9.
Since 2008, the team has had three head coaches - Duane Estep (2008-09), David Starr (2009-11) and Herscher.
"It's really hard because you have to keep learning new offenses," Wood said.
For the first time since 2004-07, Riverside will have the same head coach for three consecutive seasons.
Riverside will lose five players to graduation - Reed, Light, Austin-Taylor Smith, Isaac Sparks and Tim Womack -while returning 11 players.
With the coaches back on the sidelines, Woods is hoping for bigger and better things.
"We're just going to work hard every day," he said. "Hopefully, we can get to the State Tournament and maybe even win a state championship."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.