There will be a new king of the Dragon Empire.
West Union principal Roger Taylor announced in a release on Thursday that Austin Kingsolver will be taking over the boys’ basketball program. The decision to hire Kingsolver is still pending the recommendation of Adams County/Ohio Valley School District superintendent Richard Seas and the ACOVSD Board of Education.
“I just want to thank the administration for giving me the opportunity to spend the last five years with these kids,” said Kingsolver. “Hopefully I’ll get to spend the next 30 with the kids that come through.”
Kingsolver, a 2012 West Union graduate, spent the last three seasons as the junior varsity coach. He was an assistant for the varsity team under Josh White during the first two seasons of that stretch and served under Greg Himes last season. He has also coached at the junior high level and serves as an assistant on the school’s baseball team. Kingsolver works at the school as an Intervention Specialist.
“Working with Josh and working with Greg in the past three seasons and having the JV team helped prepare me to take over as the varsity coach,” said Kingsolver. “There’s a lot of things they’ve done in the past to throw a little bit of knowledge in there and I’m hoping to continue the winning ways at West Union.”
The school announced last week that Himes would not return after one season in West Union, in which he coached the Dragons to their first Southern Hills Athletic Conference title since 1989. The team was picked to finish last in the SHAC Division I before the season.
“Honestly, there’s pressure, but I know the kids, I know the program and I’m just ready to get started,” said Kingsolver. “I’m excited. I’m super excited to see what the future brings. At end of day, it’s high school basketball, so I’m trying to build young men and prepare these kids for the future.”
West Union finished with a 10-3 record in conference play and went 16-5 overall last season. They lost in a Southeast Division III sectional final to Southeastern, 69-54.
The Dragons had six seniors on this winter’s roster in Elijah Fuller, Garrett Vogler, Mason Fannin, Chase Cummings, Jared Fenton and Elijah McCarty, who led the team with 15 points per game.
West Union returns the second and third-leading scorers from the 2017-2018 team in Bowan Tomlin and Ryan Rothwell, who averaged 11.6 and 11 points per game, respectively. Zane Kingsolver, Austin Kingsolver’s younger brother, averaged 8.5 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
“We have a decent amount of experience coming back,” said Kingsolver. “They’re talented kids, hard-working kids and I’m excited to see what they can do as juniors and seniors to help us keep it rolling.”
The younger Kingsolver came on strong at the end of the season, including scoring a team-high 16 points in the loss to Southeastern in the final game of the season. He also brought down 20 rebounds in the game
“I’ve coached Zane since he could walk, whether it was basketball, baseball, soccer or anything in between,” said the coach. “Once practice ends, we’re brothers again, but when practice is going on he’s a player. We have a mutual respect. Outside, we might talk about basketball a little, but for the most part we’re just a couple of brothers hanging out.”
Ryan Brewer, who previously served as a coach at the junior high level, is expected to become the junior varsity coach. J.R. Kirker, the West Union varsity girls’ basketball coach, is expected to also serve as an assistant on the varsity boys’ team, while Kingsolver would serve as an assistant coach on the girls’ varsity team. Frankie Rowe is expected to remain the girls’ junior varsity coach, according to the release.
“Our building administration is excited to move forward with a coaching staff made up of alums with a vested interest in the success of West Union,” said Taylor in the release.
Kingsolver says he’s hoping to get open gyms started in the beginning of May. West Union is scheduled to open the season at home against Manchester on Nov. 30.