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Roland Park girls basketball coach Scott Buckley retires

Roland Park girls basketball coach Scott Buckley talks with his team against John Carroll in 2014. Buckley announced Wednesday that he's retiring after 22 years coaching the Reds.
Roland Park girls basketball coach Scott Buckley talks with his team against John Carroll in 2014. Buckley announced Wednesday that he's retiring after 22 years coaching the Reds. (Scott Serio / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Roland Park girls basketball coach Scott Buckley announced Wednesday that he has retired after 22 years of coaching the Reds, perennially one of the top programs in the Baltimore area.

“The culture of girls high school basketball in Baltimore off the court has changed. It takes away from the joy of coaching, and for that reason, it’s time for me to step away,” said Buckley, a former All-Metro Coach of the Year. “I think the timing is good. I still love the game of basketball and I think I have a lot to give back to the game. I’m just going to find other avenues to do it.”

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He made one thing clear: “I love it here at Roland Park and I’m not going anywhere.”

McDonogh's five-point spurt before the end of the first half drove a 73-69 win over Roland Park in the IAAM A Conference basketball semifinals

Buckley will remain the associate athletic director at Roland Park and, among other jobs, continue to guide athletes in all sports through the NCAA compliance process.

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Assistant coach Dani Kell Steinbach, who played for Buckley and has spent seven seasons as a Reds assistant, will take over the program.

“We told the kids at lunch today,” Buckley said, “and I said, ‘This is kind of a sad day for me, but I couldn’t be more excited about Dani taking the job. A long time ago when she came back to school — this is exactly how I wanted it to go.’ Not that I knew it would be now, but I hoped she would want to take over the program. She’s so good. It should be a smooth transition and I think continuity is important when you’re making a change like this.”

Buckley, whose No. 3 Reds finished 21-7 and reached the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference semifinals this season, leaves Steinbach with a lot of potential. Four starters return, including All-Metro sophomore Mir McLean, a powerhouse rebounder.

He said he didn’t make a quick decision. He had already decided to leave well before the Reds’ season ended last week.

“I don’t like the fact that we lost on Thursday,” Buckley said of the 73-69 semifinal loss to McDonogh, “but I thought it worked out well for that being my last game. I thought we played great and it was special playing against Brad [Rees]. He’s a good friend of mine and then just by chance Strom and Mike [former Seton Keough coach Jim Stromberg and Catonsville coach Mike Mohler] were there and that made it even more special.”

Rees’ McDonogh teams have staged many memorable battles with Buckley’s Reds over the years, including the Eagles’ overtime victory in the 2015 A Conference final.

“I’m really sad to see him go,” Rees said. “Some of the games we’ve played over the years have just been phenomenal girls basketball games.The schools and the programs have always had tremendous respect for each other and I think that’s a reflection on him. That’s what he teaches — you go out, compete and do your best and in the end, you respect your opponents.”

Buckley, 52, retires with a career record of 364 wins and 207 losses.The Reds traveled to Phoenix in December and won their bracket at the Nike Tournament of Champions. The bracket included several nationally ranked teams and the Reds came away with a national ranking for a few weeks in the middle of the season.

Under Buckley’s guidance, the Reds competed in seven championships in the Association of Independent Schools and the IAAM A Conference, which was formed in the 1999-2000 school year. He has been the Associated Press Maryland Coach of the Year.

Roland Park athletic director Carol Hatton played against Buckley as a high school basketball player at Catonsville.

“Coach Buckley has been the face of RPCS basketball throughout the past two decades as basketball in Baltimore has evolved significantly,” she said. “We have remained relevant because of his commitment to the game, the institution and our student-athletes.”

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