Seabury Academy’s boys basketball team ran its record to 8-3 Thursday night, with a 57-37 victory against the Kansas School for the Deaf.
Unfortunately, the sweetness of another victory was soured somewhat by the news that Seabury coach Mike “Scoop” Harding would not be returning to the school next season.
Harding said that Seabury athletic director Eric Nelson informed him Wednesday that people were not happy about his coaching style and that it likely would be best for all parties involved if he did not return as the Seahawks’ coach next season.
“I was told everybody (was not happy),” Harding said after the game. “But I don’t know what to say. It’s a shocker to me that people aren’t happy that we’re 8-3.”
With the situation weighing on his mind, Harding broke the news to his team before Thursday’s game.
“It’s disappointing,” said Seabury junior Skyler Malone, who scored 10 points in Thursday’s victory. “I enjoy playing for Scoop a lot, and it seems like he’s taught me a lot. I’ve always enjoyed talking with him and just joking around.”
Nelson confirmed Thursday night that he and Harding had discussed the matter. He also expressed appreciation for what Harding had done for the program and disappointment that things hadn’t worked out.
“I have a lot of respect for Mike Harding,” Nelson said. “And we are all thankful for the work he’s done during his three years here. Our program’s changed a little bit, and we have a winning program now. I wish him the best after the season and hope he takes us far in the playoffs.”
Harding said he planned to finish the season on the Seabury bench.
“I want to be here. I enjoy coaching here,” he said. “But if I’m not wanted, I don’t want to be here.”
As for the game itself, the Seahawks built a 30-8 first-half lead and never looked back. After letting the reserves play for most of the second quarter, Seabury led 33-17 at halftime. In the third quarter, with the starters back on the floor, Seabury used a 10-0 run — six points from Reed Grabill and four from Malone — to push the lead back above 20 points.
“We knew that this was going to be a good opportunity to get a lot of our younger guys in the game,” said Seabury senior Bill Gibbs, who led all scorers with 18 points. “It’s definitely fun to watch them out there. They don’t get too much time outside of JV, but they played a lot tonight, and I thought they played well.”
“I told the team before the game that I was going to play the young guys a lot because we’re going to need them down the stretch,” he said. “And I thought they responded.”
There was a point in the third quarter when Malone made a nifty extra pass in traffic to Grabill, who slipped behind his man and had an open path to the basket. But Grabill missed the layup. Two offensive rebounds later he finally scored, but not without hearing it from Malone, who playfully yelled, “Reed, give me that dime.”
“I had to let everyone know that he messed up my assist because he does that all the time,” Malone said with a laugh. “I think he just likes to pad his rebounding stats.”
Grabill finished with 15 points, giving the Seahawks three players in double figures. Fisher Almanza and Dan Simons each added five points, and Samuel Ohaski and Nathan Wilhelm scored two apiece. Daniel Gott led the Jackrabbits with 16.
Seabury will return to action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday against Wetmore at home.