By Garth Shanklin
Just over two months after Goshen’s Scott Wake announced his resignation as the Warriors’ boys’ basketball coach, the Warriors have named a familiar face as his replacement.
Brandon Baker will take over the boys’ team after serving as the girls’ varsity head coach for the last two seasons. Over that time span, Baker led the Lady Warriors to a 38-11 record and back-to-back Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference titles. Baker has earned SBAAC coach of the year honors in the American Division for two s traight years and this past season was named the Southwest Ohio Division II coach of the year.
Baker said he began thinking about taking the boys’ job shortly after the end of the season.
“Once we were knocked out of the tournament I knew I had to start thinking about things,” Baker said. “I knew it would be a tough decision. I loved those girls.”
Baker is no stranger to the Goshen boys’ program, having coached the team’s current senior class when they were freshman. That familiarity is part of the reason he took the job.
“When I first came here I was the freshman boys coach,” Baker said. “That was part of the decision, when I think about how much I cared about the girls, another part of me knew how much I cared about the guys.”
Baker noted the similarities between the two squads while acknowledging a few changes will need to be made.
“We’re going to have to make a few changes,” Baker said. “There are a few similarities to the girls team. We had success because we had guards who can handle and shoot the ball. We had one great shooter on the girls, one great shooter on the guys. The boys have strengths the girls didn’t have; they have weaknesses the girls didn’t have that we’ll have to address.”
With Baker moving to the boys’ team, Goshen now had a vacancy on the girls’ squad. Again, they didn’t have to look far for a new coach, naming boys’ junior varsity coach Mark Short the new girls’ varsity coach.
Short has spent 16 years as a head coach of both boys and girls programs. A six-time coach of the year, Short led Little Miami to three league titles and Blanchester to two. He also took the 2006 Little Miami squad to the state final four, earning AP Coach of the Year honors for that season.
Prior to his stop at Goshen last season, Short served as the coach for Wilmington for two years. He said that thanks to the Goshen coaching staff’s ability to work together, he is already familiar with the Lady Warriors’ program.
“Goshen’s a unique situation to where the coaching staff, and I’m sure it will this year, we all worked pretty close together,” Short said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never been on two staffs that worked closer together. I did four man workouts with the girls last fall, I scouted for them during the year so I was very cognizant of what they do.”
Short said last season was his first at the JV level, and he added he’s constantly trying to learn new things as he coaches, which is why he doesn’t plan on drastically changing the Lady Warriors’ structure.
“I’m going into year 38 and I’ve coached every level but last year was the first year I’ve ever coached junior varsity,” Short said. “I don’t think you ever stop learning. I tried to watch Coach Wake during our practices and you’re always trying to learn something. As far as the way I do things, I’ll probably stick to what I’ve always done. I told the girls I’m going to adapt to them. They’re already under a structure as to what they’ve run for the last to years. It’s easier for me to come in to add to what they do.”
Turnout for the offseason workouts has Short anxious for the season to tip off.
“I’m excited,” Short said. “It’s a great bunch of kids that are willing to work hard. We’re getting plenty of kids for spring workouts. They’ve been successful and I think they want to build on that.”
It’ll be a different SBAAC than Goshen fans have seen in the past once play begins later this year. East Clinton, Clinton Massie and Wilmington join the league for their first season of play this fall, with the latter pair joining the Warriors in the American Division.
“I’m excited for the challenge,” Baker said. “All three of those programs are tough. With Massie and Wilmington coming to our side of the conference in particular, I know they’ve had success. Wilmington has had unbelievable success the last few years. I’m excited to play against the best.”
Short has plenty of experience coaching against the trio of Clinton County schools, and he echoed Baker’s statement about the difficulty level of their new conference foes.
“That’s a very talented group,” Short said. “If I was looking at this league, knowing the league that Wilmington came out of, I’d have to pick them as the favorites, but that’s not saying we won’t be right in the thick of things. They’re a very talented group. Massie was down last year, but they’re in the same league as wilmington and that’s a very tough league. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”