WILKES-BARRE — The last time the Wyoming Valley Conference saw Chris Parker, he was coaching the Holy Redeemer girls basketball team to a third straight state quarterfinal game.
The team he’s with now would be thrilled with three consecutive wins.
Yet, Parker’s every bit as excited about coaching a rebuilding Hanover Area team as he was building Redeemer into a perennial state power as he returns to the WVC after a year’s absence.
He’s even talking championship again.
“I think this team will have an opportunity to compete for a District 2 title this year,” Parker said of the Hawkeyes during the WVC Girls Basketball Media Day on Sunday at Norm’s Pizza.
The last time Hanover Area won any kind of title, the team was led by since-graduated Asdone Hooper and Haley Bobos — who were just kids coming into their own while taking the Hawkeyes to the 2014 WVC Division 3 championship. Hanover Area jumped up to play in the league’s Division 2 the next year, and the program hasn’t been a big factor in the league since.
Parker plans to change that.
“People who know me know I’m a very competitive person,” said Parker, a former Division III college star who led Wilkes to the first of its four NCAA Elite Eight appearances and rolled up over 100 victories in five years coaching Holy Redeemer. “A very fiery coach.”
He’s one of four fresh faces leading programs in the WVC, with three of them in the league’s six-team Division 3.
Along with Parker at Hanover Area, Scott Miner takes over a Northwest team that will try to defend its Division 3 title from a year ago and Cy Fulton will attempt to rebuild an MMI Prep program that folded just before the start of the league season last year due to a lack of players.
The other new coach is a name more familiar to boys basketball.
John Quinn III, the son of Coughlin’s retired legendary coach and Wilkes-Barre Area school board member John Quinn Jr., will guide the Crusaders’ girls program.
“I’m trying to build a program, I’m trying to teach the game to the kids,” said Quinn III, who played under his dad on the boys team.
He certainly has the knowledge, and for tips, his father — a fiery figure for decades on the school’s boys sideline — will be around to lend some advice.
Don’t expect much outrage on the bench from the younger Quinn, though.
“He’s a different personality,” his dad smiled.
Parker’s just smiling over another opportunity.
He became a controversial but wildy successful figure guiding his elite Redeemer teams to four straight WVC crowns, two PIAA semifinal appearances and a third quarterfinal run, along with a District 2 Class 2A title. Yet, his program was put on probation twice by the District 2 committee and he drew heat for Redeemer ringing up over 100 points on MMI Prep in 2014-15 during a lopsided victory.
Parker wasn’t rehired by the Redeemer administration last season, and replaced by rookie high school head coach John Jezorwski — who guided the Royals to the District 2 Class 2A title and to the second round of states.
Parker’s no stranger to leading struggling public school programs, though.
His coaching career began at GAR, which doesn’t seem to pack its bench with players and does well to stay in the upper half of divisional teams in the WVC. Parker will take on a similar situation with the Hawkeyes, who won just three games last season.
“I can guarantee you we’ll have more wins,” Parker said. “Coaching the public school kid is a lot different than coaching at Holy Redeemer. I’m shocked kids didn’t know things I thought they would. I’m having to strip the program down to basic fundamentals. I want kids to learn the basics. I’m starting from scratch. Obviously, it’s a challenge. But I’m up for that challenge.
“I’m just excited to be back.”