Graham’s boys basketball team hasn’t finished above .500 in the last four seasons, but new head coach Nathan Warner believes the program can be one of the area’s best again in a short time.
Warner was introduced as the team’s new coach during a meeting on Monday morning at the school. He succeeds Julian Grasso, who resigned late last spring. The school district also announced on Wednesday former Fairlawn coach Randy Tyler is taking over the girls basketball program.
Former boys coach Brook Cupps led the program through its most successful period in school history from 2000 to 2012, which included a Division II state final four berth in 2008.
The Falcons have struggled since Cupps left to take over at Centerville in 2012. In the last five seasons before Cupps’ departure, the team won sectional titles every year and amassed an 88-12 record. In the five seasons since he left, Graham has a 39-78 record, including a 3-5 tournament record.
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It’s not an unfamiliar position for Warner, who coached at Northeastern the last two seasons. The Jets were 17-73 in the previous three years before Warner took over and went 25-23 the last two seasons. Northeastern advanced to the sectional finals last year for the first time since 2009.
“Our kids worked really hard at Northeastern to progress to where they are,” Warner said. “When I met with the Graham kids (on Monday), I saw some guys hungry to get into the gym and work. We had about 30 kids show up, and they were excited.”
Warner got plenty of experience against Central Buckeye Conference teams while coaching at Northeastern. The Jets beat both Kenton Ridge and Northwestern last season, and also beat Graham by 15 points on Dec. 20.
He said July will be a busy month for the team before fall sports begin practice in August.
“The gym’s getting resurfaced right now, and we’re going to watch films for the next couple of days,” Warner said. “Then we’re going to get into the gym and try to catch up to everyone else and finish the summer extremely strong.”
Warner, a Madison Plains graduate, coached at his alma mater before Northeastern. He and his wife Chelsea recently got teaching jobs at Graham.
“It’s a great move family move into another great basketball community,” Warner said. “We’re looking forward to being a part of it.”
Tyler is a Graham graduate and coached Fairlawn’s girls team from 2012 to 2016. He’ll be introduced to the team during a meeting on July 10 at the high school.
“I’m enthusiastic to return home to Graham and I am looking forward to creating a competitive program,” Tyler said in a press release. “I am eager to begin building an exciting and fundamentally strong program at every level, from elementary up to varsity.”