Ron Moncrief, 7-time WPIAL champ, excited to take over Mohawk girls basketball program

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021 | 5:45 PM


The Mohawk girls basketball team is replacing one WPIAL championship coach with another.

After leading the Warriors to back-to-back WPIAL titles the past two seasons, Mike O’Lare is taking over the boys basketball program at the school. To fill the opening, Mohawk recently announced the hiring of former Vincentian Academy girls basketball coach and current St. Joseph athletic director Ron Moncrief.

During his 14-year stint at Vincentian, before the school shut down in 2020, Moncrief led the Royals girls basketball team to seven WPIAL titles, including five straight from 2012-16, and also captured two PIAA titles while winning more than 300 games.

Moncrief coached this past season at Nazareth Prep, a small private school that doesn’t play in the WPIAL, but he’s excited for another opportunity.

“I had a great experience at Nazareth Prep, but this whole thing was kind of a unique experience,” Moncrief said about how the Mohawk opportunity came together. “Coach O’Lare did a great job at Mohawk, and he’s been there for 15 or 16 years, and they just won back-to-back WPIAL championships, so when the position opened, I was very surprised. But the opportunity presented itself, so I decided to explore it.”

The Warriors went 19-5 this past season, upset North Catholic in the WPIAL Class 3A championship game and then made a run to the PIAA title game before losing to Philadelphia West Catholic.

During the covid-shortened season in 2019-20, the Warriors went 24-3, beat Beaver in the WPIAL championship game and made a run to the PIAA quarterfinals before the coronavirus pandemic brought an end to the season.

Moncrief’s new team graduated five seniors and three of them — Paige Julian, Nadia Lape and Hannah McDanel ­­— combined to score 53 points in the PIAA championship game. He’ll have plenty of talent returning, but he knows there is plenty of work to be done.

“I think you have to earn your players’ trust, and I think the only way you do that and have them buy into what you want to accomplish together is getting in the gym and getting in the weight room with them,” Moncrief said. “There’s no shortcut to success. It takes hard work.”

Moncrief has shown he is capable of coaching and having success with his own style of play, but the Warriors have shown they are just as capable in recent years.

So how much should Moncrief keep the same and how much should he change?

He says it’s about finding a balance between the two.

“I’ll put a system together for our players and team that gives us the best chance to win,” Moncrief said. “So, whatever that is going to be, I know I have a style of play that I like to play. But, at the end of the day, I have to do the right thing by our players and put together a system that is going to give us the best chance to be successful on and off the court.”

Moncrief also is looking to forward to something else that will be new to him. At Vincentian Academy and Nazareth Prep, Moncrief didn’t have the chance to build relationships with feeder programs because both schools were private. That will change at Mohawk, and he’s looking forward to the opportunity.

“At a private school, we don’t get the luxury of working with a feeder system,” Moncrief said. “Being in a public school, I’m looking forward to building relationships, not only with my high school team and coaches, but also with my feeder system team and coaches and players as well.”

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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