JUCO?basketball Hall of Famer Pilcher to retire

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Dennis Pilcher coaches his Tritons inside Hodges Fieldhouse earlier this season. Pilcher officially announced his retirement on Tuesday after 40 seasons as head men’s basketball coach at Iowa Central.

ESTHERVILLE — A career five decades in the making came to an end here Tuesday night, as long-time Iowa Central men’s head coach Dennis Pilcher officially announced his retirement.

Pilcher informed his players and staff following a 76-64 defeat at the hands of Iowa Lakes in the opening round of the Region XI Tournament.

Chad Helle, who has been Pilcher’s top assistant for over a decade, will be promoted to head coach. Helle is also a former player under Pilcher for the Tritons.

“Coach Pilcher was the athletic director and men’s basketball coach when I was hired to be the head football coach in 1996,” current ICCC athletic director Kevin Twait said. “He was a tremendous mentor and a great friend for 23 years. His basketball program was a model of what collegiate athletics should be all about.

“The way his basketball players conducted themselves on the court, off the court, and in the classroom was a direct reflection of his tremendous leadership skills and the high expectations he demanded from his squads. Anyone who ever played for him, worked with him, or coached against him had nothing but respect and admiration for how he ran his program.

“We are excited for Coach and Donna, as he is stepping away to spend more time with family. We are proud (to announce) that former player and long-time assistant, Chad Helle, will be assuming the head basketball coaching position.”

Pilcher won 759 of his 856 career games while coaching at Iowa Central for 40 seasons. He also served as the school’s athletic director for 20 years — from 1990 through 2010.

But for all of his victories and accolades, it was the lasting impressions Pilcher left on his players that will be remembered most.

“It feels good to be part of Coach Pilcher’s career,” said Kemryn Jenkins, a sophomore who scored a game-high 24 points on Wednesday. “You can tell he loves to coach and win, simply because of how he could have stopped a long time again if he wanted.

“He put a lot of work into trying to better me as a person and a player, and that’s one thing I’ll always remember throughout my life.”

The Tritons qualified for two national tournaments under Pilcher’s direction: in 1990 and 2012 seasons. Pilcher was named the Iowa College Basketball Coach of the Year in 1993.

Iowa Central previously honored the Hall of Famer by naming the court in inside Hodges Fieldhouse after him in 2013.

Royshawn Webb added 13 points and seven rebounds, with Austin Jarvis scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 boards. The Tritons were without the services of two-year starter Dallas Bailey, who suffered a concussion this past weekend.

Iowa Lakes (22-9) advances to the semifinals on Thursday, where they meet third-ranked North Iowa Area in Mason City at 7 p.m.

The Lakers were led by Fort Dodge Senior High graduates Solomon and Malcolm Clayton. Solomon had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, with Malcolm adding 12 and six.


Iowa Central — Kane Kramer 2-8 0-0 5, Royshawn Webb 6-13 1-5 13, Kemryn Jenkins 6-20 9-10 24, Jesse Moss 1-5 0-0 3, Jacorian Dalton 0-1 0-0 0, Aspen La Pointe 1-2 0-0 3, Jaden Kephart 2-5 1-3 5, Austin Jarvis 4-5 3-3 11. Totals: 22-59 14-21 64.

Iowa Lakes — Malcolm Clayton 5-9 0-0 12, Boston Grimes 2-5 2-2 6, Kevin Jennings 1-6 0-1 2, Solomon Clayton 7-14 2-2 16, Jacob Rau 2-7 5-8 9, Lamontae Lewis 5-13 0-0 11, Sebastian Zehnder 1-2 0-0 2, Trevor Friesner 0-0 0-0 0, Alan Kikwaki 3-5 0-0 7, Brendun Robinson 0-2 1-2 1, Equan Ards 4-11 2-4 10. Totals: 30-74 12-19 76.

Halftime score: Iowa Lakes led 44-34. Three-point goals: Iowa Central 6-24 (Kramer 1-4, Webb 0-1, Jenkins 3-12, Moss 1-4, La Pointe 1-2, Kephart 0-1); Iowa Lakes 4-19 (M. Clayton 2-4, Grimes 0-2, Jennings 0-3, S. Clayton 0-1, Lewis 1-5, Zehnder 0-1, Kikwaki 1-2, Ards 0-1). Rebounds: Iowa Central 34, Iowa Lakes 52. Assists: Iowa Central 6, Iowa Lakes 9. Turnovers: Iowa Central 9, Iowa Lakes 9.