Liskai honored for commitment to Gibsonburg

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Twenty years.
That’s how long Brent Liskai committed himself to the Gibsonburg Golden Bears.
Liskai, who graduated from Gibsonburg in 1989, coached the basketball team for 20 years from 2002-22, winning 235 games — by far the most in school history — four sectional titles, two league championships and one district title.
He was recently honored at the state basketball tournament in Dayton and received the Bob Arnzen Award, given to a coach that has spent at least 20 years at one school.
Arnzen is a legendary coach in Ohio, having accumulated a record of 676 wins and 291 losses at Delphos St. John’s; good enough to be the third winningest coach in the state. His teams captured a state title in 1983 and were regional champions five times.
Arnzen, a Cincinnati native, played in the NBA for the Cincinnati Royals and in the ABA and for the New York Nets and the Indiana Pacers.
Liskai achieved great success in his time coaching the Bears.
“I thought it was great for someone who has dedicated his career to coaching and teaching in the same location,” said Gibsonburg athletic director Brian Jackson. “Brent has dedicated 20-plus years of coaching at Gibsonburg and has represented the community as well. We are all proud of him.
“He is a hard worker and pays attention to detail. His players worked hard for him and respected him. The combination of those things made Brent a successful coach.”
Tony Egbert, who just completed his first season as the coach at Gibsonburg, talked about what it was like to play for and coach with Liskai.
“He had high expectations for everybody. No matter what your role was as a player, he expected your best effort. That was the biggest thing - no matter who you were, he had high expectations for you and to be the best at your role. His passion for the game and knowledge for the game, especially his passion, rubbed off on myself and my teammates and it made it easy to play hard and play the right way. His knowledge of the game taught us how to play the right way. It was fun to play for him. You learned something new every day in practice.”
Five of Liskai’s players earned All-Ohio honors — Egbert, Jordan Kreglow, Matt Kreglow, Brent Ernsthausen and Gage Beaber — and four were named player of the year in the conference — Ernsthausen, Beaber, Jordan Kreglow and Matt Kreglow.
The Bears competed for many years in the old Suburban Lakes League, as one of its smallest schools, and then in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, one of the best small conferences for basketball in the state. Now, Gibsonburg is in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division.
“It was ingrained in the way his teams were, that we had to out-scrap people and take charges, diving for loose balls,” said Egbert. “That’s one thing he did a great job at preaching about was the little things that don’t show up in the box score. You kind of embrace those things being an underdog playing against teams like Ottawa Hills, Toledo Christian, Eastwood and Otsego. ”
Egbert has a great deal of respect for Liskai because of his longevity.
“I think it was a pretty cool thing. Him being a former Gibsonburg player, and then turning around and being the coach for as long as he was, it’s special at Gibsonburg because it’s a community thing. He kept it within the Gibsonburg basketball family,” said Egbert. “It’s weird when someone is there so long they become part of people’s every-day lives. People go to the games knowing they’re going to see a team that plays hard for Coach Liskai. Twenty years is a long time to do anything.”
Jackson also talked about the benefit of having one coach in place for many years.
“It helps to have consistency with any sports program because the players and parents know what they are going to get, and if it’s going well, don’t change it,” he said. “It makes it nice when there isn’t high turnover because experienced coaches are so valuable.”
Being a community staple in his hometown had to have been a thrill for Liskai, he said.
“Small towns love their high school sports, and the Gibsonburg community is no different,” said Jackson. “The community loves the school and supports the kids, coaches and sports, so when there is success in any sport at any level, it is exciting and important to the community. That’s one of the reasons I love Gibsonburg.”
Jamie Kachmarik, now the coach at St. Francis, coached Cardinal Stritch during Liskai’s latter years, and the two teams were great rivals.
“One thing you always knew when you played a Coach Liskai team was that they were going to play fast, hard and extremely tough,” Kachmarik said. “Their offense fed off their defense and their trapping style of play.”


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