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Boys Basketball: After 35 years of coaching, Terry steps aside

Posted Saturday, November 27, 2010 by http://northshoresun.timesreview.com/2010/11/3475/boys-basketball-after-35-years-of-coaching-terry-s

Boys Basketball: After 35 years of coaching, Terry steps aside

When the Longwood boys basketball coaching job opened up in 1992, Dennis Terry didn’t face the stiffest competition. Only one other person applied for the job.

“Nobody wanted it,” Terry said.

For Terry, though, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. He was following the steps of Bob O’Neil, who led Longwood to 260 victories over a nearly 30-year span. Terry played under O’Neil as a Longwood student and had a vision of bringing the same defense-first approach to the program that he learned from him.

Terry won the job and proceeded to lead Longwood to 227 victories, five trips to the county finals and one trip to the state finals. In April, following one of the more thrilling runs in program history, Terry announced his retirement from coaching, ending a 35-year coaching career.

“We had a great season, a great group of kids, and what better way to go out,” Terry said. “I kind of controlled my own destiny and I’m happy about that.”

Longwood hired Pierce Hayes, a longtime Longwood coach in various sports, to replace Terry as the fourth coach since the program began in 1963. Hayes spent the past two years as Terry’s assistant. In 2000 Hayes led the Longwood girls hoops team to the county championship.

“The Longwood boys basketball job is one of the best basketball coaching jobs in the county,” Hayes said. “You don’t think twice about taking a job like that.”

Terry said he’s very comfortable with Hayes as his replacement, as they’ve been good friends for a long time. Terry said he didn’t offer his opinion on who should be the next coach and left it up to the athletic director and school board to make that decision.

Terry said he’d been contemplating retiring for about three or four years. At the end of each season he’d evaluate what he wanted to do next.

“I wanted to make sure it was the right time,” he said.

In his final season Terry led the Lions to a 19-3 season, losing in the county finals to a star-studded Half Hollow Hills West team led by Tobias Harris, who suits up for the University of Tennessee now. While the Lions fell short of the county final, they put up a brilliant effort against the Colts in one of the more memorable Long Island basketball games in several years.

As of now, Terry said he doesn’t miss coaching.

“I’m sure maybe when games roll around I might miss it,” he said.

But don’t expect to see Terry perched in the stands at Longwood High School anytime soon.

Terry said he doesn’t want to be a distraction to the new coach and team, so he’ll stay away during the early part of the season. He’ll eventually catch a game on the road and, in the second half of the season, take in a game at Longwood.

One thing he knows for sure, once the game ends, his job is over.

“At the end of a game, I leave and the game stays right there,” he said. “It doesn’t come home with me.”

Hayes wasted little time picking up where Terry left off. As the team’s assistant coach, he began organizing the offseason program for the returning players even before he was officially appointed as the next head coach. The team played throughout the spring, summer and into the fall in various leagues and tournaments.

“Even if I didn’t get the job, it was important to keep the program moving forward,” Hayes said. “You take a month off in League I, you fall way behind.”

Hayes plans to bring the same approach to Longwood that has been there for decades: defense and pressure.

During the team’s practice Monday, the team talked about how defense wins championship, Hayes said.

“We’re going to stress the defense,” he said. “We’re going to go hard and try to put a lot of pressure on the other team. Try to make them go 90 miles per hour for 32 minutes in hopes that we outlast them.”


As appeared in the North Shore Sun.

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