St. Joe’s Lewis named prep coach of the year

By By Grant Traylor
The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — Huntington St. Joseph girls basketball coach Shannon Lewis has made a habit of celebrating success in Charleston over the last few years.

In March, Lewis and his team celebrated the school’s sixth-consecutive Class A state championship, which broke Summers County’s all-class mark of five straight titles, set from 2007-11.

The Irish not only won the title, but did so in convincing fashion with an 83-48 win over St. Marys, capping a run in which they outscored their opponents by 34 points per game in the three games of the state tournament.

At season’s end, Lewis and the Irish finished with a 23-3 record against a national schedule while also having three players sign Division-I letters of intent. A fourth senior from his group will sign to play college basketball next week.

Those feats of the 2013-14 season now offer Lewis another opportunity to celebrate in Charleston next month.

Lewis will be honored as the High School Coach of the Year on May 4 at the Victory Awards Dinner at Charleston Civic Center.

“It’s special because I felt like Mychal [Johnson] has been the premier player in the state over the last few years and our program has rose with that,” Lewis said. “It’s a climactic finish to the hard work that the seniors put in, and I owe the award to them and those before them.”

Behind Lewis’ guidance, the Irish have not lost a contest to a West Virginia opponent since the 2008 Class A championship, when they fell to Wheeling Central.

Lewis said the success of the program has been built on much more than coaching.

“Time-wise, I’m very dedicated to what I do, but we have kids, families, administration and teacher support to keep it alive and thriving,” Lewis said. “There’s a lot of different pieces and hopefully, we can keep that success going.”

This season’s 23-3 mark gave Lewis and the Irish six 20-win seasons in the last seven years and placed him one victory from reaching the 200-win plateau for his career.

Lewis will not be the only representative from the Huntington St. Joe girls basketball program at the VAD. Johnson, a Notre Dame signee, be honored at the banquet as the state’s player of the year.

Lewis won the award in a close vote over Martinsburg football coach Dave Walker, who celebrated his fourth straight Class AAA state championship. Walker had previously received the award in 2013 and 2011.

Morgantown’s Jason White finished third after winning the Class AAA girls basketball championship in his first year as coach of the Mohigans, who entered the state tournament as the No. 6 seed. Bluefield boys basketball coach Buster Large, Wheeling Central boys basketball coach Mel Stephens and Huntington High wrestling coach Rob Archer rounded out the top vote-getters.

Lewis became just the fifth girls basketball coach to win the award, joining Mercer Christian’s John O’Neal (1995), Tucker County’s David Kyle (1996 and 1997), Sissonville’s Annette Olenchick (2002) and Summers County’s Wayne Ryan (2009).

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