Jason Holland has seen the success South Warren’s athletic programs have had since opening in 2010.

Now, he’ll be trying to get the boys’ basketball team to that same level after being named the Spartans’ next head coach Thursday.

“My family and I are really excited about the opportunity and we’re blessed to come to such a great community,” Holland said in a phone interview with the Daily News. “This basketball program – they had a pretty good year last year, but we just want to build and keep moving forward. I’m really not going to worry about anybody else in the 4th Region. We’re just going to worry about our family and doing as much as we can to do what everybody wants – win a region. It’s not easy.”

Holland is making the move to Bowling Green and bringing over 200 wins in 11 years of coaching with him, which includes stops as head basketball coach at Henry County, Oldham County, Montgomery County and Shelby County. His most recent head coaching position – with the Shelby County girls’ team – was for three seasons from 2014-17, where he went a combined 61-30 and won one 30th District title.

His last boys’ head coaching position was at Montgomery County in the 2013-14 season, when his team went 29-3 and captured the 40th District title, before eventually falling to Campbelll County in the 10th Region final. In four seasons before that at Oldham County, he coached the Colonels to a 92-38 record, winning 20-plus games in three consecutive seasons. Holland’s teams made the Sweet Sixteen in 2011 and 2012 and advanced to the state semifinals in the latter.

Holland says he was drawn to the South Warren position for multiple reasons. The first was the community, the second was the school system – he’s been an educator for 19 years and his son, Taytum, will be an incoming freshman – and the third was the school’s athletic success.

“I think it’s a task that excited me. Just all three of those things together really drew me to apply,” Holland said. “It’s a tough, tough district. I’m used to tough districts, so we’ve just got to come in and work as hard as we can to change it. All three of those things made it just too irresistible to pass up for me.”

South Warren is coming off a 16-15 season that ended in the District 14 semifinals with a loss to eventual Region 4 champion Warren Central. Blane Embry resigned as the team’s head coach at the end of March after two seasons to spend more time with his wife, Debbie, who was diagnosed with cancer right before the 2019-20 season began.

The Spartans have never advanced to the Region 4 Tournament, having to play in a district that has been dominated by Warren Central and Bowling Green since South Warren opened. The Dragons and Purples have combined to win each District 14 and Region 4 championship during that time frame.

Holland believes it’ll take buy-in from everybody – from the community, to teachers, to administration, to parents and to the players – to help reach the same level of success the school’s other athletic programs have seen.

“I think South Warren, for us to be successful, those things have to happen. We’re going to work with the middle school teams, we’re going to work with our Little League kids, and we’re going to try to get buy-in from everybody and try to just be one big family toward winning a region,” Holland said. “If you can do those things, it betters your chances. It doesn’t mean you’re going to, but it really helps.”

Holland says he plans on making the trip to Bowling Green on Friday and getting contact information for his players to reach out for a full-team Zoom meeting, and later breaking off with each of the team’s grade levels. He plans to have meetings with coaches in the near future to try to build his staff as well.

Holland says he’s seen video of South Warren’s games, so he knows of the players he’ll be working with. The Spartans graduate three seniors from last year’s roster – Jonathan Hill, Caleb Mitchell-Franklin and Parker Stobaugh – but return several pieces from last year, including leading scorer Jace Carver, who averaged 14.8 points per game, and leading rebounder Caden Veltkamp, who averaged 6.6 boards per game.

The first-year South Warren coach likely won’t have the benefit of working with a full team before the season begins, however. The KHSAA implemented a dead period due to the coronavirus pandemic March 13, which has since been extended until the end of May, and several play fall sports.

“They really won’t get to see me probably until December and, you know, we’re playing games in December. It’s going to be an adjustment. I just want them to understand we’re going to work hard and it’s going to take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but when it got built it was pretty good. That’s the kind of thing we’re after,” Holland said. “ ... I think we can do it, or I wouldn’t be moving all the way to Bowling Green if I didn’t think so.”{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.

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