By Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Bryan Hughes has been coaching basketball for more than half of his life, he’s received numerous accolades for his team’s success, but one award in particular still brings him great pride.
For the third time, Barr-Reeve’s Bryan Hughes has been named the District 3 Basketball Coach of the Year. He led his 2013-14 team to a 26-2 record and a spot in the school’s fourth state championship game. He has 384-142 mark in 22 seasons with the Vikings.
He was also named to the award at Fountain Central in 1991 and at Barr-Reeve in 2012. He also served as an Indiana All-Star assistant coach in 2003.
Overall, Hughes has a 497-190 record in 29 seasons, including 12 conference, 13 sectional, four regional and four semistate crowns.
Hughes is a 1978 graduate of Covington High School and a 1982 graduate of the University of Indianapolis. He has bachelor’s degrees from UIndy and Indiana State as well as a master’s degree in business education from Indiana State. He played basketball, football, baseball and tennis in high school and was a three-year basketball letterman and two-year captain at Indianapolis.
“Personally this has always been the one coaching award that meant the most, because it’s strictly voted upon by all the other head coaches,” Hughes said. “When you receive an award that your peers have something to do with, it’s humbling and obviously we had a great year. Ever since I got into coaching, it’s been one of those awards that I’ve always thought was one of the top individual coaching awards that you could get.”
The relationship between Hughes, Barr-Reeve and the Montgomery community seems to fit so well together, but nobody, not even Hughes would have told you he planned to be here for 22 years. Along the way, Hughes established himself as one of the best coaches in the state of Indiana.
“The only reason I came here was because it was a job that was posted as Athletic Director/Varsity basketball coach,” Hughes said. “I wanted to be an Athletic Director and also coach basketball. I did that for 19 years, I don’t do that anymore, but I’m still here. When I came here, I didn’t envision being here this long. A good friend of mine, who’s a very successful coach, years ago told me if you do consider leaving a place on your own, you need to be able to sit down with a piece of paper and write down all positives and negatives of why you’re leaving. If you can’t come up with enough reasons to leave then you probably need to stay put.”
This past basketball season was one of, if not, the most dominant in recent memory at Barr-Reeve. The Vikings won 26 of 28 games and outscored their opponents by an average score of 61-41. In winning the sectional, regional and semistate championships, Barr-Reeve won four of its six postseason games prior to the state championship game by 20 points or more. The Vikings closest game in that stretch was the 69-60 win over Northeast Dubois when sophomore guard Logan James scored 29 points.
Playing in its fourth state title game since 2002, Barr-Reeve couldn’t hold onto a 10-point fourth quarter lead and lost 70-66 in overtime to Marquette Catholic after junior Ryan Fazekas scored 34 points and hit a Class A game record seven 3-pointers on 11 attempts. Barr-Reeve began the year as the No. 1 team in Class A and stayed there until the final game of the year at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“When I look back at that group, a word I used a lot was ‘magical,’” Hughes said. “I’d never had a group be put on the top of the mountain from the very beginning and be able to stay up on the top of the mountain until the final game. Every weekend our kids were dealing with the fact that you’re going into someone else’s gym and here comes the No. 1 team in the state. Just the excitement and the other team’s really rising to the occassion, from that standpoint it was very rewarding to see a group of kids handle that. We went through the entire year with very little adversity and no injuries. It was just hard to explain, the year we had is a year everybody wish they could have.”
The well-documented Barr-Reeve feeder system in the lower grades has continually brought elite level talent onto Kavanaugh Kourt year-after-year. Hughes isn’t sure there is just some special formula that is key to the Vikings’ success over the past two-plus decades. Hughes did say, he’s always interested to see the number of kids in an elementary school game when there are near 20 kids and to see what number there are by the time their senior year comes around.
“A lot of people understand that we do more than just the basketball season, but I’m not sure they truly understand how much time these kids put in, especially in June and into the fall with the preparation to get ready for the season,” Hughes said.
With his third win next season, Hughes will reach 500 wins for his career. Nobody, especially Hughes could have envisioned the career he has had. The players’ faces change from year to year, but he’s there game after game, preaching his message to the teenage boys in the black and white jerseys. The love for the game of basketball is what brought him into coaching in the first place and it is what keeps him working every day now.
“When I graduated from college, my first job was as an assistant manager at Kay Jewelers up in Indianapolis,” Hughes said. “I was selling rings, watches and all that for about six months and was very unhappy and knew this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went back to school to get my teaching degree and when I got my head coaching job at the age of 25 without being an assistant prior. I was a seventh grade coach one year and then the next year I got a job at a nearby school. I was just tickled to be in an occupation that I loved. It’s just always been my passion and as long as your healthy, I can’t see myself doing anything else.”