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P-T Girls Coach of the Year: Megyese, MC overcome setbacks

Post-Tribune girls basketball coach year Mike Megyese MIchigan City. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

Post-Tribune girls basketball coach of the year Mike Megyese of MIchigan City. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 28, 2013 8:29PM



Michigan City’s girls basketball season was littered with challenges.

Coach Mike Megyese’s team was able to overcome a season-ending knee injury to starter Aubria Clifton in the team’s seventh game, along with a number of disciplinary conflicts as well.

Despite these issues, Megyese — the Post-Tribune’s Girls Basketball Coach of the Year — and his Wolves still managed to find a silver lining among all the setbacks.

The Wolves (18-7) who finished second in the Duneland Athletic Conference to Merrillville during the regular season, managed to upset the previously unbeaten Pirates (21-1) in the second round of the Portage Sectional on their way to winning the sectional title.

Michigan City then nearly upset highly ranked Penn (25-2) in the first round of the Valparaiso Regional, before dropping a 59-55 decision.

“It was a difficult season at times, but well worth it, I think, in the end,” Megyese said. “It was a long process for me and my coaching staff all year. When we held up that sectional trophy, it was a great feeling. It’s a tough sectional. To win it, we felt very proud.”

The Wolves managed to accomplish one of their goals — winning the sectional — even though they were without Clifton 18 games.

Aubria Smith missed four games with a hyper-extended right knee suffered against LaPorte, while talented junior Keyshana Cooper sat out a total of four games — serving a pair of one-game suspensions for violating team rules — and a two-game suspension for violating school rules.

“I love my team and I love my kids,” Megyese said. “They do things I don’t like at times. I’m sure they don’t like things I do at times, too. That’s part of being a family. Hopefully, in the end, they love you for it. I just want to make sure they’re doing the right things on and off the court. That’s more important to me than winning ball games. If the kids learned something from their mistakes, that’s good, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about the kids.”

Some of the players appreciate the way Megyese handled things this season.

“He let us play our game,” Smith said. “He doesn’t set limits on our ability. He lets our talents and abilities speak for themselves and lets the game come to us.”

Clifton liked what she saw.

“I think the hatred some people have towards him motivates him to teach us even better,” she said. “He’s very cocky. His attitude towards things sometimes gets under people’s skin. He’s a very different type of person, and a very different type of coach. I like him, because when I was hurt, he was always there for me. He loves us like we’re family. He’s there for us all the time. He has a positive attitude toward everything.”

Jameka Collins said Megyese seemed to push the right buttons.

“I thought he did a real nice job picking our starting lineup when we didn’t have our regulars, like Clifton or Cooper in there,” she said. “He’s a good coach. He’s hard on us in practice and is very demanding.

His personality and attitude changes — even during the course of a practice. He wants us to always go hard and be the best we can.”

Megyese credited associate head coach, Dan Libertowski, along with assistants Ben Volheim, Jeff DeMass, Doug Robertson, and Rick Gerron, for making the season successful.

“They’ve all been there working with me,” Megyese said. “We’re one complete staff. Those guys do a lot for me and they deserve a lot of credit for what we’ve achieved and everything we do.”



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