Whitehall-Coplay Press

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Girls hoops coach steps down

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 by Steve andres spagel@tnonline.com in Sports

Dwight Repsher walked off the court last winter with a win, a come-from-behind victory that it many ways reflected the resiliency of his Zephyr teams the last five years.

The Zephyrs win over Emmaus to end the season was the last game he would coach, resigning as the girls head basketball leader in March.

In his final assessment of that February win over the Green Hornets, Repsher said that they “ … hung in there, and hung in there, and kept cutting it down until we got over the hump.”

That never-say-die attitude typified his tenure at Whitehall. And in a sport that prizes length, his teams were almost always undersized, relying on savvy, grit and hustle to make them a competitive force each year in the talented Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. He ended his career 48-65.

Repsher said that his time on the sidelines coaching the Zephyrs was made more indelible by the players.

“I loved the kids,” he said.

When Repsher took over the team in 2013, he inherited a young team that didn’t have a senior on its roster. While he didn’t have a firm timetable in mind as to how long he would coach, he realized after his first season that he wanted to see what this talented group could do together and stayed with the program as they began to take flight in the conference.

He eventually molded that group in league and district participants, with 2016 resulting in a memorable season in which they managed some historic achievements. First, they had big wins over defending district champs Nazareth and Steel Division powerhouse, Liberty. They also halted Bethlehem Catholic’s consecutive win streak over league opponents, a record that spanned 58 regular season games. And in a season filled with big, savory wins, their victory over Parkland, who had yet to suffer a league loss, may have been the sweetest. It helped cement their position for a league playoff berth that was sealed with a win over Emmaus in their final regular season game.

It was that senior class of Taylor George, Ivanna Jones, Jill Kreglow and Jill Rex, all talented players who formed that successful foundation. That squad also featured Kylee Cunningham, McKenzie Dietz, Taylor Rummel, Ariana Hines, Olivia George and Alix Buskirk.

Repsher said that season was the highlight of his career. They finished the year 15-10.

“We had a really nice year,” said Repsher. “We had some big wins.”

But it was their win against Northampton that season that actually stands out the most among all those big wins. They had been winning the game throughout most of the game, but the Kids surged back in the fourth, tying the contest. That’s when Cunningham spotted up beyond the arc with three seconds remaining and unleashed a three-pointer that had victory written all over it.

Repsher said that he turned to his assistant coach and said, “that’s going in.”

“That was a surreal moment,” said Repsher. “That may well have been the highlight of my whole career.”

Athletic Director Robert Hartman said that Repsher’s contribution to the program was defined by his dedication.

“Coach Repsher worked tirelessly to get our program to a high level,” said Hartman. “He developed a strong offseason regime, including offseason workouts, summer leagues, and the summer tournaments in the Valley. Coach was incredibly passionate about working for success and put in countless hours to do so.”

Hartman also said that Repsher helped advance the girls basketball program during his tenure.

“He improved the quality of our program, had some great wins, coached some outstanding student-athletes, and put our girls in positions to succeed,” said Hartman. “It is most critical to me that Dwight is happy. He has had a long and productive career in athletics and basketball. Over the past 15 or so years of knowing Dwight, I have developed a great respect for him, his work ethic, and his passion.”

Repsher also said that he’s happy about how he positioned the team moving forward. He also said it was really hard to leave but knew it was the right decision.

“It’s the right time for me,” said Repsher. “I think I put the program in a better position.”

Repsher won’t be stepping away from basketball. He will continue coaching as a varsity assistant at Bethlehem Catholic under head coach Jose Medina.