DuBOIS — The DuBois Area High School varsity boys basketball team is officially under new leadership for the first time in a decade, and freshly hired head coach Dave Bennett is excited to get to work.
Bennett takes over the reins of the program from Scott Creighton, who recently finished his 10th year guiding the Beavers. Creighton was just the second DuBois boys coach to reach 100 victories — doing so this past season — and ended his Beavers tenure with a 103-122 record.
Bennett should be no stranger to those in DuBois or fans who follow basketball in the area for that matter.
A DuBois resident, Bennett has previously been the head coach of the Penn State DuBois mens program and the varsity boys basketball team at Brockway.
He served as a volunteer coach for the Clarion University men’s team the past two years but decided the fit at DuBois was perfect for him to return to the high school coaching ranks.
“If I was going to return to coaching at the high school level, DuBois was the only place I was interested in doing that at,” said Bennett. “This is a place I’ve always had an interest in (from afar), and I told myself if the opportunity to coach here became available under the right circumstances, I would apply.
“The position came open, and I felt those circumstances were right at this time. I know Scott Creighton and have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done here. And, I believe he’s left the program in a good position.
“DuBois is just a good fit for me for several reasons. I believe in the academics of the DuBois Area School District, and my daughter graduated from here and had a great experience academically.
“I also still have a young family, and with my real job (Plant Manager at NAC Carbon Products) in Punxsutawney, less travel time for coaching will be nicer too. I had been going from DuBois to Punxsy and DuBois to Clarion.”
Bennett takes over a program coming off a 10-12 season that loses just four seniors — only one of which saw extensive minutes in starter Kenny Garvey. The team returns its top three scorers — current juniors Justin Manduley (12.7 ppg) and Jonathan Cruz (10.8 ppg) and sophomore Chase Husted (11.0 ppg) — for Bennett’s first season.
“There is a nice nucleus here, and I’m really excited to get to work with them,” said Bennett. “I was fortunate enough to meet the team for the first time on Friday, and I felt that went outstanding. They were really attentive and seemed to listen to the message.
“They are kids who are caught in a situation they don’t really have control over. I just wanted to let them know that I picked them and wanted to be here and look forward to building the program with them.
“I’m also mindful that there will be a transition period for them with the change. That’s why I’m kind of happy things worked out like they did and they (school board) made a hire in April.
“Now, we have the month of May (open gyms) and the entire summer to get to work and get to know each other as we go to different shootouts and summer camps. The system will be different for them, with a different offense and different defense, and we’ll have that extra time to implement that now.
“I think that will be a huge advantage as we bond and work together on our communication before the season starts.”
Bennett hopes to finalize his coaching staff over the coming weeks.
DuBois Athletic Director Chuck Ferra had high praise for Bennett.
“We are excited to have Coach Bennett aboard and for the future of our program,” said Ferra. “He brings a wealth of coaching experience at both the high school and college levels and has a great vision for our program.
“I would like to thank Coach Creighton for all he has done for our program over the last 10 years. He is a true class act in every way.”
Bennett’s first head coaching job was at Penn State DuBois, taking over the reins of the mens program there in 2006. He amassed a 130-94 record in eight seasons and led PSU-DuBois to PSUAC conference titles in 2007 and 2012 — the only two conference crowns in program history.
The Lions reached the USCAA National Tournament four times under Bennett, reaching the national title game in 2007 and national semifinals in 2010. He coached six USCAA All-Americans, six other Honorable Mention All-Americans, as well as 30 Academic All-Conference honorees while at PSU-DuBois.
Bennett left the Penn State program after the 2013-14 season and became the head coach at Brockway later that year. He coached the Rovers for two seasons, compiling a 22-28 record.
Brockway went 10-14 his first season and reached the District 9 Class AA semifinals despite starting the season 1-10. In his final season at Brockway, the Rovers were 12-14 and finished as the D-9 Class AA runner-up to earn a trip to the state playoffs.