O’Brien takes over Central DeWitt girls basketball post

Ron O’Brien is back in the game.

Five-plus years removed from leading the girls’ basketball program at Davenport North High School, O’Brien is taking the same position at Central DeWitt.

O’Brien steps in for Justin Shiltz, who resigned recently after one season for personal reasons.

“I’ve had the itch to get back in the last couple of years,” O’Brien said. “It is kind of late in the year and close to the season, but I think it is a good program and a great school district.”

The Sabers made the Class 4A state tournament a year ago.

Despite graduating two all-state players in Allie Meadows and Taylor Veach, Central DeWitt returns three players who saw significant minutes in Lauren Walker, EmmaGrace Hartman and Reagan Hofer from a 19-win squad.

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The situation is much more favorable than what O’Brien inherited at North. The Wildcats were winless in his first season before eventually leading them to a pair of Mississippi Athletic Conference Championships and the school’s first trip to the state tournament.

“There is a good base there,” O’Brien said. “When I started at North that first year, we really started from the bottom. It isn’t like that out there.”

O’Brien had received word recently about Shiltz’s departure and followed up with Sabers activities director Jered Birt.

“We had a nice meeting,” O’Brien said. “I wasn’t directly looking for a job necessarily this time of year, but it piqued my interest. I thought, ‘What the heck.’ It gives me something to do in the winter.”

O’Brien plans to meet his squad for the first time Sunday at the team’s open gym. Practice officially begins for the 2022-23 season Nov. 7.

“I’ve watched them a little bit, but I don’t know a whole lot right now,” O’Brien said. “They’ve had some turnover in coaching and I know they’re looking for stability. They’ve got a good youth program and some good Younger classes. There are a couple pieces that are there.”

The other interesting dynamic is O’Brien’s son, Logan, is an Assistant Coach with the Davenport West girls’ program. The first meeting between the Falcons and Sabers is Dec. 15.

O’Brien’s daughter, Mckenzie, a former player of his, is coaching golf at Iowa City High.

“I couldn’t let them take all the coaching credits now,” O’Brien said. “It will be fun to get back into it.”

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