GREELEY — After several nail-biters, stress-out finishes, and the type of games that can shorten a coaching lifespan, No. 400 was smooth sailing for Gail Hook.
The Monarch girls basketball coach reached that career milestone Thursday night on the road when her Coyotes thumped Greeley West 42-24 in a Class 5A Front Range League game.
It wasn’t a picturesque, but more along the lines of a meat-and-potatoes performance, one in which the Coyotes demonstrated the perseverance it takes to reach such a milestone.
“It’s pretty awesome,” senior center Mae Williams said. “I’m 100 percent behind coach Hook. I’m her biggest fan.”
Hook’s career mark improved to 400-160, which precisely translates to five wins for every seven games. Now in her 15th season at Monarch, Hook also coached Centaurus for seven seasons (guiding the Warriors to a state title in 1991) and had a one-year stint at Smoky Hill.
“You’ve got to have players and you’ve got to have coaching staffs to keep you in it for as long as I’ve been in it,” Hook said. “Those are the reasons you do what you do, and I think I’ve been very fortunate to have kids that have worked hard and believe in what we’re doing. That’s just kind of cycled here at Monarch.”
The players were eyeing the milestone most of the season, knowing Hook entered the campaign with 391 career victories. Hook took a one-year hiatus last year to spend time with her ailing mother, but she hasn’t lost her winning touch.
In this one, Monarch (9-4, 5-2) darted to a 10-0 lead and never was seriously threatened.
“We’ve been trying to get our tweet trending (#DoItForHook) the whole week,” Williams said. “The whole school knows we’ve been trying to get her her 400th win.”
Perhaps that hashtag can be changed to #JustDidItForHook now, as the Coyotes now have some steam heading into the stretch run.
Eight different Coyotes scored, led by guard Raegen Rohn’s 11 points. Jasmine Jeffcoat had six points and seven rebounds off the bench, but no one played big minutes after the Coyotes jumped all over the Spartans (3-11, 0-7) at the outset. Sophomore Macy Scott scored on the opening possession, which paved the way to the wire-to-wire victory.
“I love playing for coach Hook,” Scott said. “She’s one of the most intelligent coaches I’ve ever played for. It’s really an honor to play for her and give her her 400th win tonight.”
It can be argued that Hook’s acumen has been especially needed this season, with Monarch having won three games decided by two points, one by four points and then, on Tuesday, a one-point overtime win against Poudre.
“I wish we could have played a little bit better,” Hook said. “But yeah, it was nice to not have to draw up a play, worry about my timeouts or figure out who I’ve got out there on offense and who I’ve got out there on defense.”
The lone problem for Monarch was Greeley West junior Harper Sheets, who scored a game-best 16 points. But her Spartans teammates only added eight more to the mix.
Players didn’t immediately gang-tackle Hook or anything similar at the final buzzer, instead opting to congratulate her in the hallway and in the locker room. Williams and Scott said Hook has been somewhat shy about the milestone, so perhaps the low-key celebration tactic was for the best.
Prior to coaching, Hook was a part of Maryland’s national runner-up squad in 1978 before transferring to the University of Colorado. She also has served coaching stints in the WNBA, ABL, the college ranks and as part of U.S.’s U17 team that won gold at the FIBA World Championships in the summer of 2012.
“A lot of people say that it’s a lot of games to coach,” Hook said. “As a coach, you don’t stay in it unless you’re getting some kind of satisfaction.”
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Monarch 42, Greeley West 24
At Greeley West H.S.
MONARCH (9-4, 5-2)
Rohn 4 3-4 11, Scott 4 0-0 8, Burgener 0 0-2 0, Cendali 0 1-2 1, Williams 0 3-4 3, Payne 1 1-2 3, Carter 0 0-0 0, Mendicino 3 1-1 7, O’Flannigan 1 0-0 3, Jeffcoat 3 0-0 6, Beswick 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 9-16 42. .
GREELEY WEST (3-11, 0-7)
Tellez 1 0-0 2, Cropper 1 0-2 2, Campbell 2 0-0 4, Flores 0 0-0 0, Sheets 6 3-4 16, Badal 0 0-1 0, Ricks 0 0-0 0, Autobee 0 0-1 0. Totals 10 3-8 24.
Score by quarters:
Monarch 17 7 13 5 — 42
Greeley West 4 8 4 8 — 24
3-point field goals — Monarch (1): O’Flannigan; Greeley West (1): Sheets. Total fouls — Monarch 13, Greeley West 16.