---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
Sometimes it's just the simple small decisions that make you decide to hang it up and stop coaching.
For Milton's Steve DeLong, it was an easy choice as to why: family.
"I'm just ready to spend my time and energy on my family," DeLong said on Friday.
DeLong took over a 2-21 team that lost in the first round of the District 4 Class AAA playoffs to Jersey Shore, only being eligible due to the "open playoff format" that season.
DeLong continued to improve the Black Panthers each season, going 4-17 his first year, 6-16 his second and shocking many this year when Milton went 16-9, its best season since going 22-4 in 2008, en route to winning the District 4 championship.
Under DeLong, the Black Panthers defeated Athens in the District 4 semifinals before upsetting Shikellamy in the championship to earn its first District 4 crown since 2007 and a berth in the PIAA state tournament.
When asked if DeLong believes he helped Milton get back on the right track, he said that "I hope so."
While DeLong is leaving Milton after a successful season, it's the opposite in Southern Columbia after Dave Yost was relieved of his coaching duties. Southern Columbia finished a disappointing 7-13 last year after going 21-7 the year prior and finishing runner-up in the District 4 tournament.
Yost had Southern Columbia in the playoffs his first three seasons as head coach of the Tigers before their 7-13 finish last year.
The Southern Columbia School Board voted unanimously last week to hire Joe Britto as its new coach, who was one of eight applicants chosen. Britto has no experience as a high school coach, although he was a volunteer assistant the last two seasons with the Bloomsburg University's men's basketball team.
"I think it gives me a little bit of experience as far as coaching," Britto said on Friday.
In his time with Bloomsburg, the Huskies went 27-28, including a 19-9 season in Britto's first year as a volunteer assistant.
Britto played college ball at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and played both overseas and in the NBA D-League for eight seasons.
Britto saw time playing with the Harlem Wizards, a show basketball team similar to the Harlem Globetrotters.
"I definitely think my playing experience will help me guide the kids with things that I didn't know growing up or playing," Britto said. "Maybe I can help them."
In college, Britto averaged 14.9 points per game and 5.9 rebounds his senior season. Britto was chosen in the seventh round of the 2008 NBA D-League Draft by the Bakersfield Jam.
"I'm excited about it," Britto said of the coaching opportunity. "I can't wait to get started."