PDT Sports Writer
Before the start of this season, Jeff Lisath was faced with one of the more difficult decisions in his life.
The Portsmouth graduate and current Piketon boys basketball coach was appointed as warden of the Dayton Correctional Institute. It was a matter of how long he would keep his dedication towards coaching while driving more than 100 miles each day from work.
After 30 years of coaching on the high school and collegiate level, Lisath officially announced Thursday he will retire from coaching at the end of this season. Although the move was made during the midpoint of his ninth campaign as the Redstreaks coach, many within Piketon program were aware of the decision long before the first game.
“I told the kids and coaches prior to the season, due to my recent appointment as Warden at the Dayton Correctional Institution this would be my last season at Piketon,” Lisath said in a written statement. “I really can’t believe I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I’ve been blessed with great players, coaches and administrations over the years and I had the opportunity to build lifetime memories and relationships with a lot of people”
As the tournament MVP of the 1978 Portsmouth boys basketball state championship team and a two-time All-Ohio selection, Lisath went on to letter for four years on the Miami (OH) basketball team. He was a team captain and defensive player of the year for the Redskins, now known as the Redhawks. Lisath also tried out for the New Jersey Nets and the Washington Bullets.
Lisath’s coaching career started in 1983 when he led the Columbus State Community College men’s basketball team to a 21-4 record in his first season. He coached the Cougars for two more seasons before moving back to Portsmouth and becoming a long-time PHS boys assistant. He was on staff for the 1988 state championship team, making him one of just a few people in OHSAA history to win a state championship as a player and as an assistant coach.
In 1999, Lisath took his second head coaching job by becoming the boys basketball coach at Unioto. After three seasons with the Shermans, he took the Chillicothe girls basketball coaching position before being tapped at Piketon.
Prior to this season, Lisath had a 118-64 record with the Redstreaks which includes 2009’s trip to the State Final Four, three Scioto Valley Conference and Southeast District Coach of the Year awards and is currently the school’s all-time winningest coach. His overall career record after the end of last season was at 249-135. Piketon enters Friday’s home contest with Chillicothe Huntington at 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the SVC, tied with Zane Trace for the conference lead.
“I appreciate the support I’ve received from the administration at Piketon over the past nine years,” Lisath said. “They have been very supportive during the good and bad times and that’s so important as a head coach to know the administration is in your corner.”
As the announcement comes in January, Lisath knows the season isn’t over.
“I will do my best to leave the program in good shape as we battle for another SVC Title,” Lisath said. “I believe we have some great coaches on all levels that continue to work tirelessly to keep the program at a high level.
“I’m savoring every single moment of this season and will continue to push our kids to reach their maximum potential. Although we have struggled out the gate, I believe we are starting to figure it all out”
In the release, Lisath went on to thank his family for letting him pursue the career and dealing with his emotions during the wins and losses.
Lisath, who is also the founder and CEO of Jeff Lisath Basketball which focuses on camps, clinics and tournaments with ministry tied into the blueprint, said he will miss the circle prayer that his team and opponents are a part of after each game.
“That is never about victory or defeat, but to be openly thankful for the opportunity that was given to us,” he said.
He did mention his intent on staying in the game itself. Plans include the continued path towards becoming a sports agent and mentoring high school, college and professional players’ skill development.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.