Devils’ Coach Mac heading to Nevada | VailDaily.com

Devils’ Coach Mac heading to Nevada

Brent McConaghy

GYPSUM – Eagle Valley boys basketball coach Brent McConaghy announced earlier this week that he is leaving the school to take the same position at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno, Nev.

In his two years in Gypsum, McConaghy inherited a 4-17 team and turned the Devils into co-4A Western Slope champions with a record of 18-6 in 2012- the school’s first league title since 1999 – as well as the team’s first state-tournament appearance since 2002. The last time Eagle Valley won the Slope or made the playoffs, the school was competing at the 3A level.

The Bishop Manogue Miners play at 4A, Nevada’s highest classification, and went 7-20 last season, but had three 20-win seasons in the three years before that, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“It was definitely a chance to take a huge career step,” McConaghy said. “Who knows when that opportunity comes again?”

The opportunity, however did not make the decision easy, the coach said.

“I told the whole program Monday afternoon and that was probably one of the worst days of my life,” he said. “I could sense (the players’) disappointment. I’m leaving a perfectly-solid foundation, a team which has an incredible possibility to repeat as league champs, and go further (in the state playoffs). That upset me deeply, but at the same time, it’s a career step.”

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Eagle Valley athletic director Rick Jenkins said that the school would move quickly to fill the coaching vacancy.

“This being my first year here, I didn’t know what the basketball program was like before (McConaghy),” Jenkins said. “There was anticipation for a successful season, and the boys came through. We expect to find a coach to carry on what transpired this year. We’re not going to lessen our expectations. We expect that we will interview qualified candidates and hire the best candidate.”

Eagle Valley was McConaghy’s first head-coaching job and he compiled a 26-19 mark in two seasons. In 2010-11, the Devils were a young squad and lost a lot of close games. The turning point in an 8-13 year likely came in the second meeting of the season between archrivals when the Devils wrecked Battle Mountain’s Senior Night with a 61-60 win.

“I think this is going to be the program-changer,” McConaghy said at the time. “This is going to be their huge opportunity to take this on to next year. They have the confidence now.”

McConaghy was right. The Devils took off this winter, playing an aggressive, uptempo style, which pretty much exemplified their coach. It was not hard to find McConaghy in a packed gym. His style was quite loud and may have rubbed some – referees, in particular – the wrong way, but there was no denying the results.

“Coach Mac is a great coach,” said junior Sam Lounsberry, a three-year varsity player. “He’s great with player development and cares a lot about the program. He obviously turned around a struggling program, and a got us close to where we want to be.”

And while there are doubtless some players and people involved with Devils basketball who are upset to see McConaghy leave, Lounsberry said he understood his coach’s departure.

“He found a better job,” Lounsberry said. “Who doesn’t want to do what they like at a higher level?”

And while he’ll be in the Silver State, McConaghy expects big things from the Devils.

“Whoever the next coach is is going to have a profitable life up here,” McConaghy said. “Any time you have guys like Sam, Ayren (Hart) and Juan (Baca) in charge of program, you’re in good shape. They know what it takes, putting in the hours, to win a league championship, and I expect nothing less.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.