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Crater brings back Dippel as coach

CENTRAL POINT — When it came to filling the head coaching void in girls basketball at Crater High School, current athletic director — and departing girls coach — David Heard went down a familiar path Monday.

As happened when Heard initially retired from the program after serving from 1995-2002, Scott Dippel will assume control of a Comet program that is near and dear to the hearts of both. Dippel, who also serves as principal at Hanby Middle School, coached Crater from 2002-04 before resigning to focus on his duties as an administrator.

It’s those same duties, however, that has Dippel agreeing to step in and replace Heard again on a one-year interim basis while an ongoing search continues to find a long-term solution.

“One of the things that was super important for me is that we have a really seamless transition,” said Heard. “He’s followed me before, coached with me and knows where the program’s at and knows what we’ve been doing after coming to the games and being on our AAU board.”

“Somewhere along the line if there is a right fit for us, the program is in a really good place,” added Heard, “but I just don’t know if it’s a beginning level position. It would have to be the right person if they’ve never done it and were put in that position. Certain schools would be OK with a beginning level coach but that’s not where we are here at Crater.”

In Dippel, the Comets get a proven coach who had good success in his first three-year tenure as head coach after another five as Heard’s top assistant. Dippel’s 2003-04 team won the Southern Oregon Conference championship in a special season, especially since it involved Dippel’s return to the court after offseason brain surgery to correct a rare case of a cavernoma.

Feeling fine and always happy to help out Heard and the Crater girls basketball program — he has been coaching his younger daughters (ages 10, 5, 3) — Dippel saw no problem with stepping in.

“It’s a special program and we wanted to make sure that we had someone that (Heard) could hand it off to and just the time wasn’t right now so I agreed to take it for a year as we’re going through that transition,” said Dippel, whose health has been great since his surgery.

“I’ve been coaching the really younger levels and that’s been a lot of fun,” he added. “I’m excited about getting back and working with kids. It’s actually a group of girls that I’ve known for a long time so I really felt like it was a great group of kids to come back to, for sure.”

Dippel inherits a squad that placed sixth in the Class 5A state tournament two months ago and has a host of promising pieces returning from a 22-6 overall and 10-4 Midwestern League campaign.

With juniors like Alexus Woodard, Mackenzie Ryerson and Aleesa Yother and a deep sophomore class led by Sydney Gray, the Comets expect to be a MWL contender again in the 2017-18 season.

“Right now I’m just excited for the girls to get moving forward knowing what they’ll have in a coach,” said Heard. “Scott just has it all and he’s just a great coach. He was successful before when he followed me, winning a conference title one year, and with a lot of success every year so I think it will be fine.”

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry