|Newcomb recognized for getting his 200th win|
Scott Newcomb was preparing to coach his team against Salem on January 27 when he started to see some familiar faces.
He said he didn’t think much of it because the annual game against the Lions usually draws from familiar faces. What he didn’t know is that a lot of those faces were there to congratulate him on reaching the 200 win milestone.
Actually, at the time this story is being written he has 203 of them.
“In the coaching world you do the best you can and see what happens,” he said.
Newcomb’s coaching career has spanned two decades at Eastern and while he had a rough year out of the gate, leading the team to a 6-15 record he experienced some early success.
Eastern went 14-8 in year two and in year three the Musketeers were 17-7 and were cutting nets after winning a sectional championship.
“The sectionals always stick out in my mind when I look back,” Newcomb said. “The championship game in 2001 we were down six to eight points and made a comeback with about three minutes to go. That group made some big shots and some big plays and that was against Austin and Anthony Winchester.”
Winchester went on to excel at Western Kentucky.
Newcomb said Eastern had played Winchester and Austin in the last regular season game and allowed him to have 36 points while Riley Sparkman put up 35 for the Musketeers in a triple over time game.
The sectional championship in 2014-15 also stands out for Newcomb.
“We weren’t supposed to beat Paoli in the first round,” he said. “We beat them and things really started clicking after that.
The excitement of winning that sectional that year was followed by a heart-breaking loss as South Ripley hit a shot at the buzzer in the regional semi-finals to end the season for the Musketeers.
Newcomb remembers his first win. It came against Eastern’s neighbor and maybe biggest basketball rival, Borden.
He said the Musketeers were winning late, tried to give the game away and then won with a shot at the buzzer to win.
The wins bring a smile, but the mention of individual players bring an even bigger smile to Newcomb’s face.
“More than the games, you remember the players and the relationships you build with them,” he said. “You hope as a coach you’ve had an impact on their lives and they realize that what you are teaching them are life skills.”
The hardest part of it all, Newcomb said, are the ups and downs.
He said as a coach he wants every team to experience success and the thrill of winning.
Over the years he said he has had teams that he thought were shoe-ins to win sectionals that didn’t; and other years, teams that probably shouldn’t have had as much success as they did, rack up win after win.
“In a small 2A school, you are going to go through up and downs and if you are in coaching long enough you realize that,” he said. “There are some elite programs that don’t do that and you look at those programs and try to figure out what they are doing, but we really had it going there for a while.
“Then we’ve been on the other side where we have gone through dry spells where it has been tough to win ball games.”
During those dry spells, Newcomb says a lot of things play into it like attitude, work in the offseason, program development at the younger levels.
“It’s hard to win no matter where you’re at,” he said, “you just have to get all those things going in the right direction at the same time.”
As Eastern High School Principal Darin Farris handed Newcomb the ball signed by his players, marking the 200th win, all former players in attendance were invited to the court to stand with their coach.
Newcomb didn’t know what was what happening. One of his former players in the crowd was his son Joe.
His daughter Erin also made the trip from up north to be there for her dad’s special moment.
“It was great seeing everyone and really a total surprise,” he said.
Newcomb chuckled at the thought of chasing win number 400, but he sounded like a man who plans to wear the whistle for a while longer.
“Every year you sit back and evaluate as a coaching staff and with the administration and ask, ‘Am I getting through to the kids?’ and ‘Am I still the right guy to kind of be in charge of the program?’ I’ve done that for the past several years and will do that again this year.
“I still love what I am doing. It never feels like work. I’ve built relationships with these kids that have last a lifetime!”