EMMA — Ed Bentley is looking forward to a fresh start at Westview High School.
The former Angola boys basketball coach was approved to be the leader of the Warrior boys by the school board on Thursday night.
Bentley resigned from Angola during the middle of last season, but it didn’t take long for him to decide he wanted to continue coaching.
As a matter of fact, it took less than a week.
“It was a very tough position,” Bentley said. “I think anytime you go somewhere new it’s a chance for you to evaluate how you’ve done things in the past and what works and what hasn’t and learn through those experiences.”
At the end of each season, Bentley said he always evaluates what happened over the previous months to see what needs to be improved or changed. Taking over the Westview job gives him a chance to go through that same process.
“It’s an opportunity to not necessarily reinvent yourself but to really concentrate on what worked and maybe alter some things that you didn’t have the right outcome on,” Bentley said. “From that perspective, it is a fresh start.”
Bentley was the head coach of the Hornets for seven seasons. He amassed a record of 110-62 and won three sectional championships. His teams also earned a regular season NECC championship and two NECC tournament titles.
“I think a fresh start is going to do me some good,” Bentley said.
During his first two seasons at Angola, the Hornets finished below .500. Bentley needed an example and some guidance on how to change the culture into a winning one.
Enter former Westview boys coach Rob Yoder.
“My first two years when I took over at Angola, taking over a program that was two wins and four wins, it was a complete rebuild process,” Bentley said. “It was frustrating at times trying to change the culture. Rob Yoder was a mentor for me.
“I remember calling him and a specifically saying, ‘Can I ride to Fairfield with you to scout?’ We started a relationship there.
“I got to know his program, and through the growth of the Angola program, I can’t tell you how many times I was sitting in practice saying, ‘We have a great example in our own conference on how guys play hard, culture and togetherness and all the cliché words you want to throw out there.”
Bentley is familiar with what Westview has coming back next season. The Warriors and Hornets have played in a few tight battles recently, including this past season when Charlie Yoder hit a go-ahead free throw in the closing seconds to beat Angola.
Bentley recognizes that it will be hard to replace Charlie Yoder, but he feels like he’s got a talented group coming back.
“I think the kids have an idea of who I am and what I’m about. I think there’s a mutual respect there, because I think they look over and see that we compete, play hard and know what we were doing. That’s the way I feel about them,” Bentley said. “We have a lot of kids back who either played in or been right there in big games and have prepped for big games.”
Bentley also knows Westview has become accustom to playing in big games every season and is a threat to make deep runs every March. He plans to continue that.
“You’re not coming to Westview to win the NECC. You’re coming to Westview to win sectionals, regionals, semi-states and states,” Bentley said.
He just hopes to not mess it up.
“The first thing I want to accomplish is not screw it up too much. It’s not broke, absolutely not broke. It’s my job as a coach is to make sure I get really good people on staff that love Westview basketball. I have to do a lot of learning in the first year of this deal to understand,” Bentley said. “Although I understand from the outside, until you have boots on the ground, you don’t really have a real feel for it.”
A student for the game, Bentley plans on learning more about the Westview tradition, including about former players who made the program great. He wants to make contacts in the area so he can be a “working encyclopedia” on Westview basketball.
Bentley coached in college for seven years and said there is a draw to coaching at the next level, but being at the high school level is who he is.
“High school gives me the opportunity, although I’m constantly in the gym and away from my family, it gives me an opportunity to spend more time with them than I would at the collegiate level,” Bentley said. “The right fit is the right fit, and I believe Westview is absolutely the right fit.”