New Catonsville High basketball coach Evan Dougherty takes over a varsity head coaching position this year similar to the one he took over last year at Patapsco High.
At Patapsco, the varsity was coming off a 2-win season and Dougherty guided them to nine wins in his first-ever season as a high school varsity coach.
Like the Patriots, the 2019-2020 Comets had only two wins, along with 19 losses.
The difference for Dougherty at Catonsville is that he will be familiar with most the the juniors and seniors if they make the team because he was the head JV basketball coach at Catonsville in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.
“There are four guys that were on the varsity team last year that if they were to make the team this year, I would have coached them for three years,” Dougherty said. “There are a couple of guys as juniors that I would have had as freshmen. It’s pretty cool. I know the kids pretty well.”
If the six juniors and two sophomores who made the varsity last year would make the team again this year he would have eight veterans on the squad which is slated to begin practicing on Dec. 7 with games to be played starting Jan. 4.
“Evan has deep basketball roots in the area and more specifically at CHS,” athletic director Rich Hambor said. “He did a great job as our JV coach and then led Patapsco on an upward trajectory.”
Dougherty, who replaces Dennis Keihm, would no doubt like to have a turnaround season, like the one he had at Patapsco and not just in the win column.
“From a record standpoint and taking over the program they (Patapsco) were in kind of at a low spot and we turned it around and what I was most proud of is that we were just so tight as a team and as a family at the end of the year,” Dougherty said. “That was something that was really cool and also they had struggled with grades in the past and we had a 3.1 grade point average as a team and nobody failed off.”
Dougherty graduated in 2007 from North Harford High, where he played shooting guard for his father, Timothy Dougherty.
“My father was a high school basketball coach, so I think coaching and basketball was in my blood, so it was something that I have grown up with and I have such a passion for the game, it’s deeply rooted in me.” said Dougherty, who also ran cross country for the Hawks.
He expects the Comets to play up-tempo with energy, which is just the way he coaches.
“I’m a defensive coach and that’s my biggest thing is that I really stress defense,” he said. “I really like to play pressure defense and this year’s team, I don’t think we are going to have a lot of size.”
Although Dougherty, who teaches physical education and health at Catonsville, has been instructing virtually this fall, when he does return to the live classroom, it will be at the same school where he is the coach.
“I’m actually entering a similar situation to last year,” he said. “The only difference this year is I’m now in the school that I’m teaching at which has always been a big dream and a goal of mine.”
Teaching his students and coaching his players virtually has been a new challenge that he feels he has conquered.
“We are on our third week of our virtual season and it’s actually going really well,” said Dougherty, admittedly a little skeptical his players would do the volunteer workouts. “It’s been great because we had over 40 kids signed up and every single session we’ve averaged around 30.”
The virtual meetings have covered a variety of topics.
“Everything from like basketball related things, like defensive strategies and how to master a ball screen, to general topics, like how to be a great leader and how to communicate properly,” he said. “It’s really been a good outlet for us and I will say I’ve gotten a little bit more used to it because that’s how I’m teaching phys. ed. every day at Catonsville.”
He has also been helped by senior veteran Noah Waltz.
“We have really been trying to build leaders in our program and he has really stepped into that role,” Dougherty said. “I know that he has been organizing getting guys together from our program to get out there and work out and go for runs and I don’t have anything to do with that.”
Dougherty will be assisted by Kortnie Smith and Jason Harris will be the head JV coach.
Hambor is ready to see them in action on the sidelines with their new head coach.
“His love of the game and his desire to both teach and learn are invaluable and are really going to be a huge benefit to our players,” Hambor said. “He has also surrounded himself with a great staff, who all bring their own unique gifts. It’s an exciting time for Comet hoops.”