By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Geoff Evans was a standout for some of the best basketball teams in Hickory High’s hardwood history.
School officials hope Evans can transfer that magic to his new job as boys’ head coach. School board member Chris Ruffo said Evans remains the all-time leading scorer in Hickory history.
“Hopefully, some years down the road, he also becomes the all time winningest coach in school history,” Ruffo said.
Hired Monday, Evans replaces Nick Cannone, who was let go at the end of the season.
“I’m very excited to come back to Hickory,” said Evans, a 1997 Hickory grad. “It’s not too often a player gets to come back and coach at his alma mater.”
Evans ended his scholastic career having helped the Hornets to a pair of PIAA Final Four berths.
As a freshman in 1993-94 Evans’ 223 points contributed to Hickory’s 23-7 ledger that concluded in a 55-53 loss to Beaver Falls in the western regional finals.
Evans’ sophomore season was short-circuted by Blackhawk, 80-56, in the west finals, in spite of his 522 points (54 3-point field goals), 213 rebounds, 78 assists, 62 steals and 32 blocked shots. Hickory harvested a 26-5 record.
That campaign concluded a 3-year span during which the Hornets had an aggregate 72-20 record, reaching 3 consecutive statewide Final Fours. Bill Dzuricsko, for whom Evans played, concluded his coaching career as the Hickory boys’ cage program’s winningest mentor (202-134, 60.1 percent).
Despite pouring in 571 and 652 points, respectively, during his junior and senior seasons Hickory had 14-12 marks both years, suffering District 10 opening-round losses to Gen. McLane (66-53) and returning regional finalist Franklin (79-69), respectively.
Evans concluded his career with 1,968 points — at the time, 2nd only to former Sharpsville standout Brian Brush (1,982) — and hoisted the Hornets to a composite 77-36 (68.1 percent) record. The year after he graduated, Hickory finished 4-19.
Initially, Evans matriculated at Boston University, then subsequently transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he enjoyed a successful 2-year stint.
During the past 4 years Evans served as an assistant at Kennedy Catholic under Rick Mancino, and this past season under Jason Rankin at Sharon.
“He’s paid his dues,” said school board President Dr. Morren J. Greenburg. “We’ve had some very good coaches in the past. He, hopefully, will follow in their footsteps.”
Evans was one of 12 to apply for the job.
“We hired the best candidate, hands down,” said school board member Rob Gelesky.
Greenburg added that Evans, who will be paid $4,373, will work with elementary and junior high students on their basketball skills.
“He knows the families, he knows the students,” Greenburg said. “He comes from multiple good programs at Kennedy and Sharon. The type of game he is going to commit our kids to is the way that it’s played nowadays,” he said.
“My philosophy as a coach will be getting our players hard-nosed, attacking on offense and getting after it on defense,” Evans said.
While the Hornets are losing Matt Votino and other key players, they return Anthony Cannone and Donté Green from a 19-4 team. Evans had high praise for both, and some younger hoopsters he thinks highly of.
“I’m very excited to get in front of those guys this week,” Evans said.
Evans resides in Hermitage with his wife, Mindy, a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.