Willoughby named at Sidney

By Ken Barhorst - [email protected]



John Willoughby said when he announced his resignation as head boys basketball coach at Houston that “right now I don’t have anything, and I haven’t been looking for anything.”

So when it was announced Monday night that Willoughby is now the new head boys basketball coach at Sidney High School, he wanted to say it again.

“I want to make it clear that when I resigned here (Houston) I didn’t have anything going on anywhere else,” he said. “I love it here at Houston, love the people I’ve worked with and the players I’ve coached. But it was hard for me to pass up this opportunity.”

Willoughby, who was the head coach at Houston for 30 years and has been a Sidney resident for all of those years, replaces Andy Slaughter, who stepped down after two seasons and a 26-22 record at Sidney, including a turnaround-for-the-program 17-8 mark last season. It was Sidney’s first winning record since the 2009-10 season.

Willoughby, who will be an assistant principal at the high school, said things fell into place this time around.

“I didn’t really think about it,” he said. “This time, the way things fell into place, it was the right thing to do.”

He inherits a program on the upswing. Last year’s 17 wins came from a young team, so he has a lot of talent returning. In his 30 years in the highly-competitive Shelby County League, he had 342 victories compared to 334 losses. His teams won two SCL titles and finished runner-up six times, and they also won six district championships and one regional title, which led to a state tournament appearance in 2011.

Though Houston was Division 3 at times during his tenure, he’s spent most of those years at a Division 4 school, so it’s a big jump to D-1 at Sidney.

“I don’t know if I will approach it any differently,” he said. “You can talk all you want about skill level or whatever, but we just want to work as hard as we can and get better each day. From what I know of the players, they want to work and work hard, and that’s one of the things that attracted me to it.”

He becomes the second long-term SCL head coach to leave for a D-1 school, and ironically, the first also went to a school in the Greater Western Ohio Conference. Paul Bremigan, who spent 31 years as the head coach at Russia, left there to become the head coach at Troy. So he and Willoughby will coach against each other again, at least twice, next season.

Willoughby wants to get a staff together as soon as possible, and said his longtime assistant at Houston, Scott Hooks, will be part of it at Sidney.

“He’s been my assistant for 18 years,” Willoughby said. “I know there are some coaches in the program that still want to be there, and some of them are working with the kids right now. From what I know, there are a couple of young coaches who are ready to go. I would like to get some coaches that are familiar with the GWOC and our opponents. But I’ll also be watching a lot of tape.”

He also said he likes the youth program Slaughter had and wants to keep that going.

Willoughby’s wife Julie is a principal at Urbana High School.


By Ken Barhorst

[email protected]