South Putnam hires girls' basketball coach

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The South Putnam girls' basketball team has seen its fair share of coaching changes in the past.

They've experienced four head coaches in the last five years. Monday, however, South Putnam school board has made a choice for the future, hiring former Cascade assistant Tim Garver.

"I think it's just a great opportunity to work with the kids here," Garver said. "When I looked at South Putnam, there's a great group of kids and there's talent. They've got community support and fan support."

Garver will be turning 54 this year and currently resides in Clayton. Before Cascade, he coached at Covenant Christian and played basketball in Indianapolis at Decatur.

"I know their record is not promising," Garver said. "But whenever I scouted them They always played hard so I thought it was an opportunity to build a program and do it the right way."

The Eagles went 4-15 last year including two overtime wins, one coming late in the season against Cloverdale.

Former Eagle coach Bill Merkel said he knew the challenges awaiting a new coach, and felt the team's positive outlook was something that South Putnam can look forward to in future seasons.

"I stepped into a situation where all the girls with varsity experience had graduated," Merkel said. "They were there just trying to get their feet wet. We kept all the ninth graders that tried out so I think they have a good nucleus."

South Putnam Athletic Director Schnepp says that he was happy with Merkel's coaching and looks forward to Garver's opportunity.

"We asked (Merkel) to give us one year. He was a serious coach," Schnepp said. "He did rally well and the girls' responded to him. Garver brings some real good experience and a passion for the game."

Merkel said that the main difficulty in coaching just the one year was getting adequate time with the players to get them acquainted with his coaching style.

"The biggest challenge was that I stepped in and was unable to work with them in the off-season," Merkel said. "I told them and the parents we needed to change the culture in practice and in game situations.

"It was a learning experience and the girls didn't quit. They kept improving and they were looking forward to next year. The program is in an upward swing and I wanted someone to come in and get the program established."

Garver will be establishing that program and he says getting some regularity in the schedule will be the order of business.

"As a new coach challenges will be first and foremost getting the girls to buy in," Garver said. "With the understanding that they've had four new coaches we'll try to get some consistency. If we can really work on our fundamentals, that'll be ideal."

Garver is happy to be coaching the Eagles and will be looking forward to seeing Cascade in the schedule this coming basketball season.

"I'm very excited," Garver said. "I'm looking forward to the summer open gym and shootarounds and I'm very grateful to Cascade. The team's support, the players and the fans and Don Helmick They all really went above and beyond."

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