Funny how a guy who has been so good at his profession for so long could wind up coaching a team that was such a surprise state tournament champion. But that's how Doug Woodard rolls.
At least this year. Previously three times a state champion and three more times a state tourney runner-up, Woodard led his sixth-seeded Bellevue West to the 2014 Class A state title earning him a title of his own, Huskerland's Class A boys basketball coach of the year.
Bellevue West (21-6) won the title game in a thriller, a 56-50 overtime victory over Omaha Westside, this after KO-ing four-time defending champ Omaha Central in the first round, 68-50, and fellow upstart Norfolk in the semifinals, 60-49.
"During the tournament we become more consistent offensively and become a very good overall defensive team," says Coach Woodard, who has won 495 games in his illustrious career. He's in his 16th year at Bellevue West after six at Omaha Roncalli and 10 at Bellevue Christian. "Having C.J. (Johnson) at the point and Malik (Hluchoweckyj) at the two-guard allowed each to play to their strengths and we also become much more mentally tough and able to deal with adversity as the season wound down."
Besides the outstanding play by his guards Coach Woodard also counted on leadership from both seniors Austin Moore - "he gave us relentless defensive effort and non-stop positive energy" - and 6-7 post Christian Hatterle, "who really provided us with presence and interior strength on both ends of the floor."
Woodard's been down this path before but this particular Bellevue West team has a special place in his coaching heart.
"The championship was a tremendous experience for me personally and our team, a team that has progressed farther than any of our previous state championship teams at West. It was very gratifying to see these young men become, in every sense of the words, a true team."