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Westminster boys basketball coach Brett Kanther stepping down

Westminster head coach Brett Kanther looks on during the second half of the Owls' game in Westminster Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.
Westminster head coach Brett Kanther looks on during the second half of the Owls' game in Westminster Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County TImes)

Brett Kanther returned as Westminster High School’s boys basketball coach in 2015 for a second stint, after the first one lasted five years and included a pair of county championships.

Five years later, Kanther has decided to make another change.

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The 47-year-old stepped down as Owls coach, five days after Westminster’s season came to an end March 3 against Wilde Lake in the Class 3A East Region 1 semifinals. Kanther, 47, said via email he’s “seeking a new challenge,” but he’s not bringing an end to his coaching career.

“I would like to completely revamp a struggling boys basketball program in Carroll County,” Kanther said. “I am also open to coaching girls as well.”

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Kanther went 132-101 in 10 seasons with the Owls, going 65-50 during the first five seasons (2002-03 to 2006-07) and winning county titles in 2003 and 2004. Westminster finished this season at 16-7 and went 10-2 in the Carroll County Athletic League, defeating county champion Century and 2A West regional champ Liberty once each along the way.

Owls senior guards Denio Blaney and Chandler Gentzel each averaged more than 11 points per game, and fellow senior Nico Graham scored 7.9 per game while leading county regulars in field-goal percentage (52.3%). Blaney added 2.7 assists and 2.2 steals, and shot 81.3% from the free-throw line en route to a Times first-team all-county nod.

“The best thing about this year’s team was they got after it, played hard and intense, and with a nasty edge,” Kanther said, and he credited Graham and fellow senior Tyler Buberl for being the Owls’ “ring leaders.”

“We’ve always had a special relationship,” Blaney said. “He’s been my coach since fourth, fifth grade. He was my Westminster travel coach. He has always been a role model and an example for me. He’s always cared about turning us into men. It was more than just basketball, it was more about just shaping us for life.”

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Kanther said investing more time within the program was one of the biggest differences in coaching during his second stint. The Owls usually watched film on their next opponent before breaking down video from their most recent game in order to fix mistakes. Kanther said Westminster “repeated the cycle 23 times this season” in order to stay sharp and adapt game-by-game.

“We needed to do this to be prepared, compete, and be successful or we would have lost a lot more games,” Kanther said. “You really need to evolve as the season goes on, especially on offense, because teams like Liberty and Century will not allow you to run your sets. Unless you have greater talent, plays will never work anymore because of film and technology.”

Gentzel and Graham made the all-county second team, and Gentzel finished his high school career with 1,116 points. Gentzel spent his first three years at Winters Mill before coming to Westminster via transfer, and the Owls had other recent transfers from Francis Scott Key and Manchester Valley.

But Kanther called any recruitment allegations “completely false.”

“We viewed that as a compliment to our program,” he said. “Coaches and members of those communities needed to examine why players were leaving their programs and fix them. Instead, false allegations were made that had zero substance. I can’t tell you how many members of our community would text, call, or email me about their son coming to [Westminster] to play basketball — it was incredible.”

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