Leechburg brings back Damian Davies to head boys basketball program

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Friday, June 28, 2019 | 2:53 PM


After parting ways with boys basketball coach Corey Smith last week, the Leechburg School Board found its new coach, and the members didn’t have to look far.

On Wednesday, Damian Davies, was approved by the board to return to the program for the 2019-20 season.

“We went through our evaluation process, and Damian was selected to be the coach,” school board president Neill Brady said. “They (Davies and Smith), were both very qualified candidates. Corey did a great job over the past three years, and Damian had done a good job before then so they were both qualified candidates. But I think I’ve mentioned before we wanted to move forward with someone from inside our district.”

In 2016, Davies’ contract was not renewed by the school board when hazing allegations were brought against the boys basketball program. No evidence was found that proved Davies guilty of any wrongdoing.

When Davies reapplied for the position after the investigation concluded, he received a great deal of support. Players, students, parents, and community members voiced their support during a school board meeting in May 2016. But the school board still voted 5-3 against his reinstatement.

Afterward, Davies was approved as an assistant for the girls basketball program and, over the past three years, he contributed to an overall record of 38-25, including an 18-4 record in 2017-18. Over that time, Davies received other coaching offers, but he said he never had any intentions of leaving Leechburg.

“I live here. I teach here. I love my job. I love my students, and I am invested in the community,” Davies said. “I’ve really never stopped coaching here. I’ve had offers in the past, but I wanted to be here in Leechburg.”

During his first stint with the program, Davies coached the boys team for 14 years and brought Leechburg its last WPIAL championship in the 2006-07 season. That also was the last time the Blue Devils made the state playoffs before Smith returned the program to the state tournament in 2017-18.

But all that is in the past as Davies takes over for his second stint.

“We start Monday with the LBG Summer Basketball Academy,” Davies said. “We’re going to start at 10 a.m. with the fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in, and then were going to run with the varsity and we already have a schedule set up and a lot of gym time set aside for them.

”I just want to have the best opportunities available for the players to be the best that they can be at all grades and all levels, and that’s what were going to try and do right off the bat on Monday.”

Last season, the Blue Devils made it to the second round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs before running into eventual runner-up Vincentian. They then went on to the state tournament and lost to District 9 champion Elk County Catholic, 65-41.

Davies will lose only two seniors from last season and will return Eli Rich, Jake Blumer, and Dylan Cook, all of whom contributed as underclassmen last season. With a solid group of returning players and promising youngsters coming up through the system, Davies will have a talented roster, and he is excited to get resettled into his old position.

“But I’m excited about it because it’s what I do here,” he said. “I’m totally invested. I moved my family here. I’ve been here a long time, and I’m totally invested in doing what I can for the community and the team. So I feel like it’s time to just get started and do those things as best as I can.”

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

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