By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ email@example.com
The Havre High School basketball coaching vacancies have been all filled.
On Monday, Havre High boys junior varsity coach John Barnhorst was announced as superintendent Kirk Miller's recommendation to the school board to become the new HHS head boys basketball coach.
The change will become official at the June 8 school board meeting.
Barnhorst replaces former head man Mark West after three seasons at Havre High. But he is no stranger to Havre High basketball.
Barnhorst has been coaching basketball in Havre for the past 13 years and been part of the the Blue Pony program for ten years as either an assistant under Dennis Murphy, and most recently, under West.
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity," Barnhorst said. "I have looked forward to this and prepared myself for it for the last 10 years."
Barnhorst has been involved with basketball in Havre in some form since he came to then Northern Montana College in 1986. He played for the Lights for four seasons and graduated in 1990. He has been a physical education teacher in the Havre Elementary school system for 13 years. He is currently teaching P.E. at Highland Park School and at the Havre Middle School.
Barnhorst's experience as a longtime assistant in Havre and his standing in the public school system made him a very strong candidate, according to Miller.
"The stability that John brings to our program is very important," Miller said. "John brings a great deal of basketball experience and we know of his abilities as a high school and college player as well as a coach."
Barnhorst agrees that his time spent as an assistant at Havre High will serve him well in making the transition to head coach.
"I have been fortunate to have spent time learning from very good coaches like Dennis Murphy and Mark West and being with them for so long has really prepared me for this," he said.
"I think that having been here and been in the program will make the transition much easier," he added. "The kids know me and I know them. I won't make a lot of drastic changes because we have had a lot of success and we will just work very hard to continue what we have built."
Indeed, Barnhorst takes over a team that returns several key components of the 2004 HHS team that finished third at the Class A state tournament in February.
Havre returns starters Marc Mariani, Tyler Hedalen and Jeremy Giardina along with reserves Jared Weigel, Patch Wirtzberger, Gary Wagner and Tyson Parman.
"There is definitely a strong foundation right now," Barnhorst said. "We have some very good kids coming back. We're going to work hard this summer and get better and be very prepared for the upcoming season."
And there is no doubt that Barnhorst will work hard to continue the winning tradition of Havre High basketball. Being a former player himself, he fully understands the commitment that it takes to be a high school basketball coach and he is looking forward to his upcoming first year at the varsity helm.
"This is something I have looked forward to for a very long time," Barnhorst said. "Blue Pony basketball is very important to me and I have put a lot of time and energy into this program for a long time. I am just thankful I have the opportunity to be the head coach."
Said Miller: "We took a look around at what was out there and we just felt that John was the best match for our program. We're pleased that he is in this position and we look forward to having him as the head boys basketball coach at Havre High."