MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

April 25, 2014

Fletcher coach is the choice at Hilldale

Fletcher boys basketball coach Eric Romine was the pick Thursday afternoon to take over the same program at Hilldale High School.

The 31-year-old Romine, a native of Ripley who graduated from Oklahoma State, was at Fletcher for three seasons. Previous to that he served as an assistant coach for the Verdigris girls squad and a year of junior high experience prior to that.

“He had some success turning the program around at Fletcher and I think he has the qualities to not just come in and establish success next year but most of all a program and system that’s going have lasting success,” said Hilldale athletic director Erik Puckett in announcing the hire.

Three finalists were interviewed from an applicant pool of 22, Puckett said.

Romine replaces Jeremy Rogers, who was 61-79 in six seasons. Rogers said he hoped to get closer to his home area of Welch and the small schools. That’s also a benefit for Romine, his wife Caressa, and their three preschool-age children. Fletcher is a Class A school near Lawton.

“We have family in the Verdigris area and this gets us closer to them,” he said. “I hope we can set some roots up and establish something there.”

His last team at Fletcher went 22-6, in contrast with the 11-14 team he inherited and went 12-12 in his first season. He said  some health issues on his roster led to an elimination in the regional consolation round.

‘We were young and inexperienced and had some players come and go but getting the younger kids involved and getting them to understand defensively and offensively what was expected began to show some results,” he said.

“We had a pretty dominant post. Eric and I have talked about it so  I know Hilldale hasn’t had a lot of height. We tailored what we did to our height we had but I also had some guards that developed and we were able to change what we had been doing by mixing more zone with our man-to-man.”

And he said, he’s coached teams that didn’t have size.

“If that means turning up tempo to gain advantage, fine. If we need to slow it, that’s what we’ll need to do.

“I know what I do have is a core group back. I think it’s too early for any expectation. I want to get down there, build a relationship over the summer with the kids, teach a system and then we’ll see what noise we can make.”

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