Tigers coach credits assistants for this season’s success


Many head coaches of Indiana high school basketball teams agree it takes a good group of assistants to run a successful program.

Greg Kilgore, head boys basketball coach at Crothersville High School, says he is fortunate to have an excellent staff to reach out to for information.

Jimmy Shirley has been Kilgore’s varsity assistant this season. His son, Ethan, attended school in Crothersville through fourth grade, went to Brownstown for fifth through 10th grades and returned to Crothersville as a junior.

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Kilgore said he is happy to have both Shirleys being a part of the program this season.

Bobby Riley has served as Crothersville’s junior varsity coach in recent seasons. He played basketball at Jennings County High School.

“Bobby and Jimmy were huge assets on the bench and in practice this season,” Kilgore said. “They kept me informed of timeouts, fouls on our players and such.”

Jimmy Shirley said he has liked working with the CHS players and coaches and enjoys having his son as part of the team. Jimmy played for the Tigers under coach Jeff Thompson.

Crothersville won the first boys basketball sectional title in school history by defeating West Washington 57-51 on Saturday night in Edinburgh. The school has been a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association since 1914.

Jimmy said the sectional title means the world to the school and community.

“Ethan to come back and be a part of that is awesome,” he said. “He has friends at Crothersville, and he wanted to go with them and finish out. This is my second year helping Greg, and I’m glad I did.”

Ethan has started for the Tigers this season and made a key 3-pointer during the middle of the fourth quarter that extended the Tigers’ lead against West Washington.

“I was talking to Josh (Thomas) the other day, and when we were little, we were sitting around a circle, one of our coaches, John Riley, asked what our goals were in life, and all of us said to win Crothersville’s first sectional, and we’re here doing it now,” Ethan said.

He said it was great feeling having his dad as an assistant coach.

“We butt heads sometimes, but he’s the one that taught me basketball and got me where I am,” Ethan said. “We all play as a team, we’re a group of brothers and that is why we won this game. We go to practice every day and put in 110%.”

Fans attending Crothersville’s home games may have noticed Jerry Owens, Steve Couch and Jeff Jewell sitting behind the Tigers’ bench. They also were in attendance at the sectional; however, they weren’t just sitting there as spectators.

Owens was head coach of the Tigers from 1979 to 1986, Jewell graduated from CHS in 1980 and Couch and Kilgore graduated in 1985.

“All three of us played for Jerry,” Kilgore said. “Jerry came into practices randomly and actually talked to me and some of the boys from time to time. We did more reminiscing than basketball talk usually, but he was very informative when we had questions as a coaching staff. Steve usually kept our shot chart, and he usually called me once or twice a week just to talk about games and upcoming opponents.”

Owens said the team is deserving of the title.

“It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of kids,” he said. “Greg is a great coach. Back when he played for me, I knew sooner or later, someone that played for me was going to do this (win a sectional). They took it to heart.

“It’s not a situation where there is anything I would rather see happen rather than Greg win the sectional,” Owens said. “We had left this half-done way too long. The guys got to the final game five times for me and three times for Greg, and they just needed to finish it, and they sure did tonight.”

Couch said he enjoys his role with the team.

“What I do is I reinforce what Greg is thinking because Greg’s first plan is always a very good one,” he said. “Jerry gives him a little more direction with play calling and different things like that. Doc (Jewell) talks a lot about boxing out and rebounding with the coaches, so everybody contributes a little bit, but we all have our boundaries.

“Greg does such a good job, but his first instinct is always his best, and we try to keep him from second-guessing himself,” Couch said. “I talk to him all week long, and typically, I go in and talk to the kids after games and sometimes before games. It’s a lot of fun.”

Jewell said seeing the Tigers win the sectional was a great feeling.

“Thank the Lord for this,” he said. “He was with these guys, and they’re hard workers, and Greg has worked endlessly preparing his teams over the years, and he has been close. I’m so proud of him getting over the hump. He deserves it. I thought they moved the ball really well in the sectional and shot pretty well, so that makes for a good outcome. It was totally a team effort.”

Couch said Thomas has done an outstanding job of filling a leadership role.

“The Thomas kid is really special, and just being around the kid rubs off on you real good,” Couch said. “It’s a lot of fun to be around that kid. I’ve never been around one that has been as receptive, responsible and as polite. The whole team is like that, but Thomas is the quiet leader. They’re really good kids.”

The Tigers will face Class A top-ranked Barr-Reeve at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Loogootee Regional. Northeast Dubois will battle Christian Academy in the second game. Tickets are $10.

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