By SCOTT COTTOS
FOR THE COURIER
KANSAS — Keith Diebler said he thought about retiring after resigning last month as Genoa’s boys basketball coach.
The decision: Nah.
And so, his next endeavor will be to try to build a winning program at Lakota. His official hiring is pending approval at next Monday’s school board meeting.
“I think I took six days,” Diebler said with a laugh of his time of contemplating whether he wanted to continue coaching after 29 years at six schools. “It does get in your blood. I had a good feeling about this.”
Diebler, who won the 2005 Division II state championship at Upper Sandusky with sons Jake and Jon after having also coached them at Fostoria High School, succeeds Tim Walsh, whose contract was non-renewed after five seasons and a 33-70 total record.
Lakota athletic director Mary Brewer asked Diebler about his interest shortly after he left Genoa, where he went 13-33 in two seasons. The Comets went from 3-19 overall and 0-14 in the Northern Buckeye Conference in his first season to 10-14 and 7-7 last year.
“I asked him to come out to visit,” Brewer said. “He was impressed with our facilities, and we negotiated from there.
“I’m just really excited. He’s very intent on what he wants and what he needs and about what the kids want and need.”
Diebler said he recalls some intense battles in the former Suburban Lakes League when he coached at Gibsonburg and Lakota, with Paul Gnepper at the helm, sent strong teams onto the floor.
“I think it’s an opportunity to look from the bottom up and build it up to where it once was,” Diebler said of taking over the Raiders, who were 10-14 last season. “I look at it as a positive opportunity.”
Diebler, who plans to meet with his new team for the first time on Thursday, left Genoa with no animosity.
He had hoped to have a larger presence among the student body with a position on the educational staff at the school, but none were available. Brewer said that while Diebler will not teach at Lakota this year, the possibility exists for next year.
Diebler has a career record of 363-291 in 29 years as a head coach at Plymouth, Gibsonburg, Bowling Green, Fostoria, Upper Sandusky and Genoa. After winning the state title in 2005, Upper Sandusky was state runner-up the next season, in which Jon Diebler became Ohio’s career scoring leader and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball.
Before moving to Upper Sandusky, Fostoria won the 2003-04 Northern Ohio League title with Keith coaching Jake as a junior and Jon as a freshman.
All three of Keith Diebler’s sons were named Associated Press Player of the Year: Jeremiah in Division IV at Gibsonburg in 2000, and Jake and Jon in Division II at Upper Sandusky in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
Jeremiah was recently named head boys basketball coach at Monroeville. Jake, a former college standout at Valparaiso, is an assistant coach at Ohio State. Jon, whose NBA rights are held by the Houston Rockets, plays professionally in Turkey.