Highlands goes with the Flow, finds new boys basketball coach teaching English class

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Friday, June 28, 2024 | 1:58 PM


Highlands likes to play fast, up-tempo basketball. It always has, even when a new coach took over.

From the late Rich Falter and Shawn Bennis to Tyler Stoczynski and Corey Dotchin, the team just liked to get it and go.

For their next coach, the Golden Rams will go with the Flow.

The district earlier this month hired Bill Flow to coach the boys basketball team, about two months after the resignation of Dotchin, who led the Rams for 12 years, the last three as head coach.

Flow, a Norwin graduate and former Yough athletic director and Jeannette girls basketball coach, began working as an English teacher at Highlands this year, and the in-house job posting for the coach opening intrigued him.

He had been out of coaching for nearly two years but knew he had more to give the game.

Flow is familiar with the program’s history and wants to uphold the winning tradition in Harrison Township.

“I thought about it, and I figured I’d put my name in the hat and see what happens,” Flow said. “This is arguably a top-10 program in Pennsylvania. There is always talent here. They have a backing. They have their own YouTube channel.”

Flow, 42, guided the Jeannette girls in 2023 but has extensive coaching experience from his time spent in North Carolina.

A Westmoreland City native and current Jeannette resident, he lived in Asheboro, N.C., from 2011-21. He was the boys basketball coach at Southern Alamance for four years, a supplemental position to his teaching job.

He also guided the girls team at Eastern Randolph for three seasons and became AD there for a year.

With no coach in place, Highlands missed out on summer leagues and team camps this year, but Flow already has the Rams showing up to 7 a.m. open-gym workouts.

“Basketball is my passion,” Flow said. “It’s fun getting back in the gym and seeing that sweat equity. We’ve had 15-16 kids every day, which is nice.”

Flow said working as an athletic director at Yough was “a year of professional development” as he observed various coaching styles, from Jim Nesser on the basketball court to Dan Palm in baseball, Ben Hoffer in football and Dutch Harvey in softball.

“I learned a lot,” he said.

When Flow returned to the area, he coached the Penn State Greater Allegheny men’s team for one season.

A former Cal (Pa.) football player, he earned a master’s degree in sports psychology from Adams State.

This year, he helped implement a sports literature course at Highlands. He has some of his players in class and is beginning to learn more about his roster than names.

“The thing with the internet now is you have all these ways to watch games with NFHS, YouTube, Twitter X,” he said. “I have probably watched 80% of (Highlands’) games from last year.

“Ninety-four percent of our points went out the front door, so I ask the guys, ‘Who wants it?’ We only have two guys back who played (varsity minutes). I want to see some guys step up.”

Highlands had a record of 55-22 under Dotchin — 14-8 last season with a first-round playoff exit — and reached the WPIAL semifinals twice. Dotchin won a WPIAL championship in 2020 as Tyler Stoczynski’s right-hand man.

The Golden Rams, who went 1-21 in Dotchin’s first year as an assistant, also reached the district finals in 2016.

Flow is anxious to sharpen his team’s defensive skills.

“We’re going to ‘D’ you up,” he said. “We’re going to play hard and beat you up a little — within the rules, of course. I want to play a fun brand of basketball. We’ll see what we can do offensively. Our guys are buying into defense.”

Flow said one key change will be the Rams’ substitution patterns. While Dotchin played six or seven players, Flow wants to stretch the bench to make it nine or 10 deep.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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