RUSSELLVILLE – A familiar face has stepped into the Russellville boys’ basketball head coaching position.

Carlos Quarles was introduced Monday as the Panthers’ head coach during a news conference in the school’s library. He served as an assistant coach the past two seasons.

“I’m just excited for the opportunity,” he said. “I have a great group of young men that work hard and I feel like we’re really going to have strength in numbers. We’re going to really work hard in the offseason to try to get a collective unit together and give it our all.”

Quarles replaces Rex Booth, who went 15-36 in two seasons as head coach. Booth left Russellville in August to become principal of the Edmonson County 5/6 Center.

Quarles graduated from Hopkinsville High School and went to Western Kentucky University, where he played football and received a degree in physical education. He later earned his master’s and Rank 1 in educational administration from WKU.

He taught and coached at Warren Central from 2007-17 before coming to Russellville. While with the Dragons, he was part of three District 14 championships and three Region 4 championships.

In addition to serving as a basketball assistant coach, Quarles has also been an assistant on Russellville’s football coaching staff.

“This is a coach that’s been in the Fourth Region for a while now and has been part of many winning programs, and we’re hoping he gets to come in and put his touch on our program in the same way,” Russellville athletic director Kyle Yates said.

Quarles credits a number of mentors he’s had, including former Warren Central coach Tim Riley and current Dragons coach William Unseld, as well as Booth. Quarles is hoping to bring a hard-nosed defensive approach with his team.

“We want to be somebody that when we walk into a gym, you know we’re there. We’re going to be a defensive team. Defense travels from gym to gym,” Quarles said. “Sometimes you may have an off offensive night, but if you come and defend, you give yourself a chance to win every night.”

Russellville is coming off an 8-17 season that ended with a 75-61 loss to Franklin-Simpson in the District 13 semifinals. The Panthers graduated the top scorers and rebounders from that team in Jacob Naylor (25.1 points per game, 5 rebounds per game) and Elijah Kemp (13.3 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game), and Quarles is expecting everybody to step up to help fill. Quarles believes players like Jaquis Todd and Xavier Coleman, who averaged 4.1 and 1.1 points per game last year, respectively, will be a big part of that group.

“We’ve got several guys,” Quarles said. “We lost a tremendous amount of scoring, so we’re going to have to have strength in numbers.”

The program played in the Region 4 championship game in 2017 and fell to Bowling Green – the eventual state champion – 81-62. Quarles is hoping to get the Panthers back to that level, but he knows it won’t happen overnight.

“It’s going to take a tremendous amount of hard work – the work that goes on in the gym when nobody is there – and I tell the players all the time, ‘You’re only going to get out what you put in,’ ” Quarles said. “If we put in the work I’m going to be instilling in them, I think we’ll develop as players and we’ll be better collectively.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I let them know that it’s going to take some time, but if we put the work in, positive results will happen.”

Russellville is scheduled to open the season Dec. 2 against Greenbrier, Tenn., according to the schedule posted on the KHSAA website.

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

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