Kontak honored by district, state, and then locally
In eight years as a varsity girls’ basketball coach at Genoa and Oak Harbor, Tom Kontak has won 127 games, two league titles and five sectional championships and reached four district finals.
This year’s Oak Harbor team, which started two sophomores and two freshmen, finished 20-5 and was seconds away from advancing to the Division III regional semifinals.
On Tuesday, Kontak was named the D-III Co-Coach of the Year by The Associated Press. Last Thursday, Kontak, 51, learned that he was voted the AP Northwest District Co-Coach of the Year with Liberty-Benton coach Nate Irwin.
This week, 10 area coaches and 10 local media representatives voted Kontak the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Coach of the Year. He won narrowly over Clay coach Corey Slovak and Genoa coach Mike DeStazio, who both led revivals of their girls’ cage programs and finished tied for second in voting. Cardinal Stritch Catholic coach John Free also received votes.
It is the second straight year Kontak received the All-Press award, which will bring him a plaque. His top player, sophomore post Andrea Cecil, joins him this year as Player of the Year. Both Kontak and Cecil will receive plaques from the Oregon business and all other honorees will receive certificates.
The Rockets, which finished 16-8 last season in their first year under Kontak, finished 11-3 in the Sandusky Bay Conference this year. Fourth-ranked (D-II) Clyde won the SBC title.
The AP district and state co-coach of the year awards are the first for Kontak, who was named coach of the year by the District 7 Coaches’ Association in 2009, when his Genoa team reached the district finals.
“This is a great honor in that it’s voted on by the media and covers such a large area,” Kontak said of the district honor. “Hopefully having been around for a while, the voters recognize the success we’ve had over the years and that we have done things the right way. I was very surprised. I got a call from one of my coaching friends and he said congratulations. I had no idea.”
Kontak said he’s familiar with what Irwin has accomplished at Liberty-Benton, which was ranked sixth in the final AP poll.
“We go back to our early days when he was at Liberty-Benton and I was at Genoa,” Kontak said. “We played Liberty-Benton at Perrysburg in a district semifinal game and we beat them. Since then, they’ve won a state championship (2010) and been to the final four and have a great program and a great history. To be with Nate also makes it that much more of a great honor.”
Kontak, who has a 127-57 career mark, returned just two starters from a year ago in senior guard Amanda Hetrick and Cecil, who was named third-team All-Ohio on Tuesday.
Oak Harbor’s only losses were to Clyde (twice), which lost to final four state qualifier Rogers in the district finals; Bellevue, a regional finalist in D-II; to Port Clinton; and to Bucyrus Wynford, which hit a 3-pointer with seconds left to beat the Rockets 40-37 in the district finals.
Kontak’s assistant coaches this season were Art Eli, Mark Boukissen and junior varsity coach Ralph Mills, who led the Rockets to an 11-11 record.
“Those are guys who have been around for a while,” Kontak said. “We spend time away from the court together. The girls were able to see us get along so well, to see us scheme, game plan, laugh together, cry together - all the things you have to do to come together during the season. There wasn’t a lot of drama. It was a lot of good leadership and playing basketball and representing your school.”
Tom Kontak talks strategy to his Oak Harbor team. (Press file photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.smugmug.com)
Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Coach of the Year Tom Kontak. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.smugmug.com)