By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
Editor’s Note: This story will appear in Saturday’s edition of the Miami Valley Today.
Coming off its most successful season in years, Piqua athletic director Chip Hare hated to lose first-year girls basketball coach Jon Dolph, after Dolph guided the Indians to a 14-9 season, he didn’t have to look far to find the perfect replacement.
Varsity assistant Greg Justice, a former Piqua varsity volleyball coach, will take over as coach.
Dolph stepped down due to coursework he needs to do to get his masters degree.
“About a month after the season, Jon realized there was going to be a lot more course work (for his masters) then he originally realized,” Hare said. “We tried a number of different strategies to be able to make it work, but we realized we just weren’t going to be able to make it happen. It is unfortunate, because Jon did a great job and wanted to come back, but we feel fortunate to be able to get Greg.”
And the decision to hire Justice was an easy one for Hare.
“There were two things we were looking for,” Hare said. “We are coming off our first winning season in a long stretch. And we have a strong group returning. We were looking for someone who knows the game. But, just as importantly, we were looking for someone who was familiar with the kids and the kids liked.
“Greg was someone who was an integral part of the success they had last year. He did a lot of behind the scenes work for Jon. We have a strong group of returners coming back. They like Greg and trust Greg and we felt like that was important.”
And Justice, who had a meeting with parents and players Thursday, can’t wait to get started.
“The last week has kind of been a whirlwind,” Justice said. “For sure (he knew he wanted the job). After getting to know the kids last year and building a relationship with them, I wanted to continue that.”
Tylah Yeomans, a 5-10 post who averaged 14 points and six rebounds a year ago, returns for her senior season along with guard Kathy Young.
The junior class will be led by post Andrea Marrs and guard Karley Johns and one of the most talented freshman classes to come through Piqua in recent memory will be back for their sophomore season
Along with that come some big expectations —- and Justice is fine with that.
“I tend to set my goals high,” he said. “There will be (big expectations) and I think the girls are excited about that.”
Justice said that starts with the league in Piqua’s first year of competition in the MVL.
“I think the first step is to get where the Tippecanoe and Troys are in the league,” Justice said. “I know we got Troy once last year, but they are still ahead of us.”
And Justice can’t wait to get started working toward that goal this summer.
“Like a lot of programs, we use a lot of our contact days in June,” Justice said. “The summer is important, We want to bond and create that team unity and chenmistry.”
The first step is already accomplished.
With the hiring of Justice, Piqua can build on last year’s success rather than learn a third system in three years.
“We are going to be doing a lot of the same things we did last year and build on that,” Justice said.
That was important to Hare as well.
“A lot of the things they do will be the same,” Hare said. “I am sure Greg will have few little nuances to add to it. I think, especially with girls, having a coach they believe in is the most important thing. The girls trust Greg and they believe in him. Greg knows the girls and he knows Piqua, which is important.”
Justice won multiple sectional titles as volleyball coach and knows what is expected from a varsity coach.
“I think it does help (having experience as a varsity coach), but I think also it is a challenge,” Justice said. “That’s why we as coaches do this. We enjoy the challenge.”
And he can’t wait to get started.
Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at email@example.com
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