Kiski Area hires alum Corey Smith as new boys basketball coach

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | 4:10 PM


Corey Smith is coming home, and he couldn’t be happier.

“It’s a great day to be a Cavalier,” Smith said.

Smith, who attended Kiski Area from 1999-2002 and played for the Cavaliers as a sophomore, junior and senior, was named Kiski Area’s new boys basketball coach Monday night.

The Cavaliers went 5-15 this season under coach Will Saunders, who resigned from the position to spend more time with his family after three years at the helm. Now, Smith is ready to return the program to its former glory.

“I’m here to put Kiski Area back on the map and to fill the gym to what it was when I played,” Smith said. “The gym was filled. That was the talk of the night every Tuesday and Friday around the community. Everyone based their plans around Kiski Area basketball games. I know that gym is bigger now, but my plan and my hope is that the community will come back out so we can fill that gym up and give my boys the best support as possible.”

Smith led the Leechburg boys basketball program from 2017-19. He amassed a record of 34-25 while leading the Blue Devils to the WPIAL playoffs three times, capturing the program’s first WPIAL playoff victory since 2011 and the first PIAA playoff appearance since 2007.

The Leechburg School Board decided not to renew his contract before the 2019-20 season.

But Smith said he is happy to be home.

“It’s a great feeling when your community and the administrators have your back,” Smith said. “It’s a great feeling to know that I’m coming home. You always want to go back home, and you never want to forget where you came from. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m very grateful to be the head coach of Kiski Area.”

The Cavaliers will be returning almost their entire roster (Frank DiNinno was the only senior this season). Smith also will have an opportunity to coach his oldest son, LeBryn, who started for the Cavaliers this season. He called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It’s going to be a special thing, knowing that I’m going to be coaching my son for the last two years of his high school career at Kiski Area,” Smith said. “But he does know that there isn’t going to be any favoritism, and he does know that he’s going to be held to the same standard as the guy beside him. But that is going to be special to me, and I know that he is excited for me to come in there as well.”

When transitioning from one coach to another, there is normally an adjustment period as players get used to a new system, but it doesn’t seem like the Cavaliers will have to go through that.

Through his AAU program, Top Level All-Stars, Smith has been able to coach and be around most of his current players already. Despite the familiarity, Smith wants to instill a new mindset for his players.

“I think it’s going to be a smooth transition, just tweaking a couple of things, from the little things to the big things and on the court and off the court things that I’ve watched over the past three years,” Smith said. “They know what I’m about, and they know when we step into that gym, we’re about business.

“I just need them locked in, and that’s one thing they’ll hear me say a lot.”

The Cavaliers haven’t made the playoffs since 2016-17 and haven’t had a winning season since 2013-14, when they made a run to the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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