Since sports media is all about hot takes anymore, then allow me to throw one out right now: Anthony Lippe is the best girls basketball coach in Warren County since Bobby Haile. I don’t think it’s really even debatable either.
Warren County girls basketball, which has racked up a ton of wins over the last two seasons, suffered its worst loss in years Monday when Lippe decided to step away from the program. The architect of a rebuild that took the team from two wins in his first year to the top-10 in state rankings by Year 4 made the choice to resign for the right reasons, but it won’t make it any easier for the program to digest his departure. Here’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to coaching departures: When people are celebrating, then the coach isn’t that good. When people are mourning, it’s because they know they lost a good one.
Lippe wasn’t just a good one – he was a great girls basketball coach.
His career record at Warren County (61-57) will come across as modest because of the four-year tenure, but you don’t have to dig too deep to find out why he should be held in such high esteem. Before Lippe took over, Warren County had just one winning season on its resume in the last 25 years (and he was an assistant on that team too). In the last two years, the Lady Pioneers have posted 20-plus wins, something that hasn’t been accomplished since the 1980s.
Going even further, claiming a share of this year’s District 6-4A regular season title gave the Lady Pioneers their first hardware since 1979 (when Warren County won the state title). And if you want big wins, Lippe and the Lady Pioneers provided plenty over the last two seasons.
They snapped long losing streaks to bitter rivals White County and Coffee County (Both of which were ranked in the top 10 in the state when the Lady Pioneers defeated them), took two from Stewarts Creek this season (the Lady Hawks were also a top-10 team and finished one win from the state tourney) and won in the region twice (snapping a 43-year drought in region games last season).
A tremendous group of Lady Pioneers deserve a huge amount of praise for that turnaround, but their coach does too. Lippe helped make it happen, even when he never concerned himself much with stats or the scoreboard during the action.
“We always talked about the scoreboard. We let our effort determine the outcome,” Lippe said Monday when discussing how the Lady Pioneers established their success. “There was a right way to play and we were going to hold ourselves to that standard.”
When Warren County starts looking for Lippe’s replacement, they hopefully will adhere to the same standard. Lippe showed that winning can happen for the Lady Pioneers. Now it has to be seen if the program can win without its best leader in decades.