ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — The Marauders didn’t have to look far to find their next boys basketball coach.
Jeremy Hill — who spent the past five seasons coaching Eastern — was hired as the MHS varsity boys basketball head coach at the Meigs Local Board of Education meeting on May 8.
In his five seasons with Eastern, Hill and the Eagles won 29 games, improving their win total from the previous campaign in each of the last three seasons.
“Leaving Eastern was a tough decision,” Hill said. “I wanted to continue coaching and I didn’t think my time there was going to be beneficial for either one of us any longer. This opportunity gives me the chance to continue coaching, and perhaps have a do-over for my coaching career.”
After just two wins in each his first two seasons at EHS, Hill led the Eagles to six wins in 2015-16, nine wins in the 2016-17 season, and 10 wins last season.
A point of pride during Hill’s stent at Eastern was not only the development shown by the Eagles on the court, but outside the lines as well.
“I’m really proud of the fact that we never had anybody on our basketball team — whether it be a jay-vee player or a varsity player — not have eligibility due to grades,” said Hill. “Not once did we have to have any strong disciplinary actions. When we went out into the community we were thanked and praised about the way our student-athletes acted a presented themselves. Those things go a long ways in my mind.
“I do believe that we did a fine job of not only teaching basketball, but teaching these kids some life skills. Next year’s ball club is going to be a special one for them. I believe they should be fighting for the top of the league in the Hocking Division.”
Eastern had just two players graduate from last year’s 10-13 team.
Along with his resignation from the EHS boys basketball team, Hill also stepped away from his duties as varsity golf coach, a position he held for two seasons. The EHS boys golf team was a district qualifier last fall.
At Meigs, Hill will be replacing Ed Fry, who resigned from his post as MHS head coach after four seasons and a 52-40 mark.
“Coach Fry had a very good program here at Meigs, and he should be commended for everything that he did,” Hill said. “He consistently put a good game of basketball out there, but we differ in philosophy. He was more of a 1-3-1 zone coach and I run more man-to-man. We’re obviously going to need to take baby steps in converting the kids from a zone mentality into a man-to-man, help-side defense mentality.”
The Marauders won 10 of their final 15 games last season and could return every player from the 10-14 squad, as it featured zero seniors.
“I’m still getting to know the kids here,” said Hill. “You’re only going to go as far as your seniors take you, I’m going to rely on them to teach me a little bit about the environment that I’m coming into. We have a fine junior class to compliment the senior group, and what’s really good is the youth is there as well. The sophomore group and the incoming freshmen are very talented.”
Last season, Meigs finished fifth in the seven-team Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division, posting a 5-7 league record. With Eastern last season, Hill didn’t face the top-4 teams in the final TVC Ohio standings, but he’s confident that his players have enough experience in the trenches to help make up his first-year transition a smooth one.
“To me, next year’s schedule is different,” Hill said. “I would use the term brutal to describe it in comparison to the Hocking. It’ll be a challenge for myself, but the good thing is that the players that I have know nothing different. They know what they’re facing, they’ve been up against this competition for several years now, so it’s not a change for them, it’s just a change for their coach.”
One of the early goals that Hill has for the MHS boys basketball program was inspired by University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
“Twice when (Calipari) took a new job he used the phrase that he wanted to ‘create a love affair for basketball within this community,’ and that’s exactly what I would like to do,” Hill said. “Meigs has been known for football, it’s a football school, Coach Bartrum has done great job with the football program. The baseball program has been outstanding under the leadership of Coach Bissell.
“I would just like to create some excitement, and that love affair with basketball here. We do have the talent, I know that we have the facilities, now we just need to take care of it on the court.”
The Marauders have already started non-instructional open gym and offseason workouts.
Coach Hill will be hosting a meet and greet for players and parents at Fox’s Pizza Den in Pomeroy on Wednesday, June 6, at 7 p.m.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.