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2018 Post Register Boys Basketball Coach of the Year

By LUKE O’ROARK | @LukeORoark

Dave Austin, Hillcrest

Hillcrest reached new heights in 2018.

A year after losing out in the 5A District 6 tournament, Hillcrest made the 5A state tournament for the first time in school history. It was also the first postseason appearance since 2010, when the Knights were still in the 4A classification.

(FILE) Knights’ head coach Dave Austin makes calls as Hillcrest High School takes on Highland High School on Friday, January 26, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

But the success didn’t stop there: Hillcrest upset 5A state-title contender Post Falls in the semifinal round before losing to Rocky Mountain in overtime. The Knights led the Grizzlies by eight at halftime.

“To the rest of the world, a ‘Cinderella’ run,” Austin said after the game. “But to us, we expected to be here. We wanted to be here. We knew we were going to be here. And we came over here to make a statement.”

A statement was made.

The Knights had a plethora of seniors — Derek Marlowe (the Post Register’s Player of the Year), Trey Johnson, Jaxon Weatherly, Parker Stevens — but Austin’s solid coaching (like switching to a 1-2-2 zone during the winner-to-state district game against Highland) also played a major role in Hillcrest’s best postseason in program history.

“You could get the feeling that they love to play together,” Madison coach Travis Schwab said. “You felt that sense, that they all wanted to play with another.”

Compared to other seasons, the Knights’ turnaround is indicated by a single anecdote: their halfcourt defenses.

Still powered by their traditional, motion offense from years’ prior, the Knights surrendered just 48 points per game. The Knights only allowed 60-plus points three times all season — two coming during the 5A state tournament alone.

“I think the biggest change this year, we got our team involved where there’s a lot of passing. I think in the past there’s been a lot of one pass, one shot and one-on-one,” Stevens said on Feb. 22. “But this year everybody’s been involved every time.”

Other coaches who received All-Area Coach of the Year nomination:

Eric Torgerson, Ririe

Bryan Miller, North Fremont

Travis Schwab, Madison

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