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Fred King named St. Marys girls’ hoops coach

ST. MARYS — An Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame coach is returning to the hardwood.

Long-time Paden City girls basketball and volleyball leader Fred King now looks to make his mark in the Little Kanawha Conference.

He accepted the recently vacated St. Marys girls basketball position. Taking over for Howie Meeks, who was forced to step down as his new duties as the school’s athletic director and assistant principal won’t allow him to coach.

King spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach under Rick Isaly at River High School after a one-year break. During his time with the Pilots, he “had the privilege” of coaching names like Lauren Flannery, Kelsey Hartland, Hannah Raber. “I’ve seen a lot of girls basketball the last three years,” King said.

“They (River) treated me really well. There were some great coaches and parents. It was tough to leave,” he said.

However, King said the opportunity to coach the Blue Devils was too good to pass up. After moving to the St. Marys’ area and taking up a substitute teaching post, he saw the kids and “their thirst for excellence” and “they go above and beyond the system.”

That includes playing on AAU teams, attending open gyms and being in the weight room to get stronger. It also didn’t hurt that those same girls already are a part of the established program Meeks left behind. A deep cupboard stretches back to third grade thanks to the former head coaches work with the youth.

“What I have to do now is keep the train on the tracks and maybe take it one step further if possible,” King said.

That would mean only one thing: a state championship. It was the lone accomplishment missing from Meeks’ time at the helm. The group did play for four titles but fell to Huntington St. Joe in all of them. The closest miss coming by seven points in 2011.

King plans to chase this goal by building an all-inclusive program similar to what he had at River. Players don’t necessarily have to come up through the system. “I want to leave the door open enough for kids who are borderline and want to play the sport. Maybe they are the kids not quite ready to play AAU type ball, but we still have something for them as well. We still want to maintain the programs youth league like the Devilettes,” King said.

St. Marys fans can expect all players coming to the team to be part of a very structured and set oriented system, King said. “We want to put good athletes with good skill in position to execute their God-given talents.”

The hire has not gone unnoticed, either.

Several LKC coaches already have voiced their excitement at the hiring. Williamstown boys’ head coach Scott Sauro in particular can’t wait to watch the Fred and Fred Show when the Yellowjackets and Blue Devils get together.

“I told him it is going to be like going to a geriatrics unit and watching or like seeing “One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest,” King said. “Fred Sauro and I go back a long way. He won his first championship at Sisterville High School, and back then Williamstown was very average and he had a springboard from the Lady Tiger Invitational.”

King begins his tenure when St. Marys opens the 2021-22 season against Class A state runner-up Cameron on Dec. 3.

“It’s not about me,” he stressed. “I have had my time. Now it is the kids time. I am not a rah-rah self-centered person. It is all about the kids.”

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