Laing – Longest-tenured Leopard hoops coach at 12 years – calls it quits

BOYS BASKETBALL

Will concentrate his efforts

at locating a collegiate

baseball home for his son

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

BROOKSVILLE – The revolving carousel of prep athletics continues this week at Hernando High.

According to Athletic Director Kevin Bittinger, the Leopards were currently advertising to fill head coaching vacancies in boys and girls swimming, boys and girls cross country, a head boys soccer mentor and an assistant soccer coach.

That was before veteran boys basketball skipper Jeff Laing announced his junior-to-be son Jordan Laing was not going to play football nor return to the varsity basketball program.

The 6-foot-3 athlete was injured and missed most of the 2018-19 campaign.

Challenger’s Jordan Laing. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

When Jordan opted not to return to the Michael A. Imhoff Gymnasium for his last two years of basketball, Coach Laing made a difficult decision.

He said instead of waiting until his youngest son left the program, he would resign his head coaching post immediately.

Reached for comment on vacation in St. Louis, Coach Laing and his son were taking in a couple St. Louis Cardinals games and scouting the Midwest for possible collegiate stops for Jordan.

Jordan Laing will spend his last two years of eligibility concentrating solely on the Leopard varsity baseball team under Tim Sims.

Last season, he played mostly on the junior varsity baseball squad headed up by his father.

At the varsity level, the right-handed pitcher threw one inning of relief in the 10-4 loss to Lakeland Senior High.

He faced five batters allowed two hits and two earned runs including a homer.

He struck out one batter and didn’t issue a walk with an ERA of 14.0.

Jeff Laing

The elder Laing, 50, recently completed his 26th year as an educator in Hernando County School district, said he’ll remain as an economics teacher at HHS and as the school’s associate baseball coach under Sims.

According to Coach Laing, “When he (Jordan) decided not to play that served as a mitigating factor for me. I’ll tell you that it wasn’t an easy decision. Right now, I’m at peace with it.”

Laing, a HHS alumnus, first joined the coaching ranks as an assistant hoops mentor under Trey Crawford in 1993.

Twenty-six years later – including a stop at Challenger K-8 as head coach – he’s decided not to pace the sidelines next winter.

Besides serving as HHS’ boys basketball head coach for 12 seasons (from 2001-07) and from 2013-to the present, he’s compiled an record 124-178 (41 percent).

Laing’s teams finished a combined 38-46 (45 percent) versus its county brethren.

John Sedlack

Laing’s squads captured a share of the Hernando County championship three times.

David Pisarcik

Twice with Central’s John Sedlack in 2002-03 and 2003-04 and again with archrival Nature Coast Technical’s David Pisarcik in 2013-14.

In district play under Laing, the Leopards are 10-13 overall (43 percent).

The Purple and Gold reached the coveted regional playoffs three times – all as district runners-ups in 2001-02, 2003-04 and 2013-14.

In three regional quarterfinals, the Leopards were eliminated each time.

Laing replaced Charlie Williams in 2001-02.

After HHS suffered five losing seasons across six basketball winters (2007-13), he returned to guide the reins following Mark Latsko bolting to coach his alma mater at Gainesville High.

On which team stands out, “I really wish I didn’t have such a great team when I got here. It was a veteran team. Looking back, I wish my first team would have been in my fifth year.”

Looking back fondly, the University of Central Florida product adamantly admits, “I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of great kids. I’ve had police officers, engineers, lawyers and many self-employed businessmen go through the system here.

“As far as players, Jeff Brown and Kyle Swanton really stand out.

“As far as memorable games, the overtime win over Pasco during Brown’s junior season was special,“ summed up Laing. “Pasco went ahead with three seconds left. We made two passes and then Dan (Widboom) dropped in a three-pointer at the buzzer to send it to overtime where we eventually won (74-72). The place was rocking. It was one of the best Pasco-Hernando games I’ve ever been a part of.”

By the Numbers: Hernando’s Jeff Laing

(2001-07/2013-19/12 Seasons)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Jeff Laing                                                                                        Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

YEAR

W

L

.PCT

CO

DISTS

REG

2001-02

15

14

.517

2-2

2-1/DRU

0-1

2002-03

10

19

.345

3-1/CoC

1-1

2003-04

16

12

.571

5-1/CoC

1-1/DRU

0-1

2004-05

9

17

.346

2-4

1-1

2005-06

3

13

.188

2-4

0-1

2006-07

7

14

.333

1-4

0-1

2013-14

15

7

.682

7-1/CoC

2-1/DRU

0-1

2014-15

15

10

.600

6-2

1-1

2015-16

8

19

.296

2-6

1-1

2016-17

8

18

.308

2-5

0-1

2017-18

6

20

.231

3-5

0-1

2018-19

12

15

.444

3-5

1-1

TOTALS (12)

124

178

.410

38-46

10-13

0-3

 

 

This article has 1 Comment

  1. You failed to mention that during Laing’s tenure as coach of challenger, he was caught cheating. He would tell his payers to go to the foul line when they were not fouled. Trying to trick the opposing coaches and referees, Great example for our kids.

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