The Red Mountain administration made a quick decision in filing the vacant girls basketball opening.
They didn’t have far to look, either.
Jeff Kain was named the girls basketball coach Monday and the girls were told in a meeting today. Kain has been the assistant at Red Mountain the last three seasons after a successful run at Hamilton.
“We opened up the position and received a lot of resumes in the first 24 to 48 hours,” Red Mountain athletic director Jim Gowdy said. “It was clear that Jeff was the right person going forward. He is a Red Mountain graduate, knows the program, the girls, the school and was very successful at Hamilton.”
Kain went 174-67 from 2007 to 2015, including at least 20 wins the final six years, with Hamilton before resigning after the 2015 season in which the Huskies went 23-9 and lost in the state quarterfinals.
“I am very exited to take over the program,” said Kain, who is also the girls golf coach. “I want to keep some of the traditions coach Appel has had and add my own take.”
This is hardly a rebuild situation that most coaches encounter when taking over a program as Red Mountain won 20 games with several underclassmen as major contributors.
The position became open after Appel resigned in part because four players quit down the stretch of the season, and the Mountain Lions played their playoff game, a loss to Tucson, with only seven players dressed out.
Kain said he’d be open to meeting the girls who left the program and see if there is something worth exploring and bringing the girls back.
“Right now, it is a wait-and-see approach,” he said. “We will see if they are interested in coming back at some point. I am not getting caught up in that right now. I need to get things set up for the offseason and summer leagues.”
Red Mountain loses only two seniors, not counting the players who were suspended and/or quit, and returns freshmen Mya Johnson, Kailey Appel, if she stays, and others.
“We’ve done really well in the region the last few years and we hope to continue that and take the next step beyond that,” Kain said. “A lot depends on personnel, but I like to get after it with man-to-man defense and a motion offense. It’s going to be a mix and match situation, but I know we are going to work hard and be ready to play.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.