Northeastern junior Katie Baneck (right) defends Grace Estes of West Liberty-Salem last season. MICHAEL COOPER / CONTRIBUTED

Northeastern hires new boys, girls basketball coaches

Darren Long was hired as the Jets new boys basketball coach and Tab LaFollette will take over the girls program. They were both approved by the Northeastern Local School District Board of Education at its meeting last week.

Long takes over for Lloyd Alexander, who resigned after two seasons as head coach. The Jets were 4-19 and 3-13 in the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division last season.

“I’m ready to put some extra boost in the program and get things going,” Long said. “It’s going to take a lot of work. Sometimes, when you go into programs that have been struggling, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but you have to change the program.”

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He previously coached at Mechanicsburg from 2001-06, finishing with a 55-55 record. He also coached at London, his alma mater, from 2011-16. The Jets boys team last won the Ohio Heritage Conference title in the 2005-06 season.

“I have always kept it with (the OHC) because of some of the relationships I made,” Long said. “I’m excited to be back.”

Long’s system will likely be determined by the team’s personnel, he said. As school winds down, he expects to begin summer workouts soon.

The Jets will work hard on defense, Long said. “That’s the make or break of your program.”

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LaFollette takes over for Beth Marks, who also resigned after two seasons. The Jets finished 0-23 last season. The team graduated three seniors and should return six juniors from last season’s squad.

LaFollette previously coached at Jewett-Scio and Mechanicsburg and has more than 200 wins in his coaching career.

“I just love coaching,” he said. “It’s an opportunity take the program up a level.”

In the 1999-2000 season, he coached the 21-3 Indians to a regional semifinal, falling to eventual state champion St. Henry. He was named News-Sun All-Area Coach of the Year that season. LaFollette also spent two years as an assistant coach at Muskingum College, his alma mater.

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The Jets will focus on fundamentals with an emphasis on defense and good shot selection, he said.

“Those are the things that have won me games in the past,” LaFollette said. “We’ll just transfer that over to the girls program.”

The girls program will have to work hard to be successful, he said.

“There’s no shortcuts,” LaFollette said. “It’s just working hard and really focusing on the details. It’s probably the same for any sport.”

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