Girls basketball: Lutzenhiser resigns as Wolves' coach after three seasons

South Kitsap girls basketball Mark Lutzenhiser recently resigned after guiding the Wolves to a 52-27 record and two state-playoff appearances in three seasons. - File photo
South Kitsap girls basketball Mark Lutzenhiser recently resigned after guiding the Wolves to a 52-27 record and two state-playoff appearances in three seasons.
— image credit: File photo
South Kitsap’s girls basketball team already faced the arduous task of replacing a talented senior class.
Now its route back to the state tournament will come under the direction of a new coach.
Athletic director Ed Santos said he has “quite a few” internal candidates vying to replace Mark Lutzenhiser, who tendered his resignation to Santos on April 11.
The team graduates starters Kelsey Callaghan, Dana Goularte and Angela Romonsky, but returns a pair of first-team Class 4A Narrows League selections in guard Jackie Steiger and forward Taylor Sunkel.
“We’re going through with putting together a team to make that decision,” said Santos, adding that he hopes to have a student representative on the hiring committee. “We’re hoping to have a decision made in the next two or three weeks because of summer league.”
Lutzenhiser compiled a 52-27 record in three seasons and guided the Wolves to two Class 4A state-playoff appearances.
South finished with a 20-6 record in 2010-11 and reached the second round of the state tournament before its season ended with a 43-40 loss against Bellarmine Prep. It marked the first time in a decade that the Wolves won 20 games.
Lutzenhiser declined to outline all of the reasons behind his decision beyond a few known details, including that his wife, Jeanine, is pursuing a law degree at the University of Washington. In addition, Lutzenhiser said he planned to relocate his family and two daughters, both of whom are teenagers, to Port Orchard from Poulsbo. But he said changes in the economy, particularly in the housing market, no longer made that feasible.
“There’s a lot of factors — and I don’t want to name all of them,” Lutzenhiser said. “I wish I could continue on. You know you want to compete at the highest level and when you can’t do that, it’s frustrating.”
In December 1999, South girls basketball coach Gary Wilson, who guided the Wolves to a third-place finish earlier that year, cited parental complaints as a reason why he decided to step down. But Lutzenhiser said his resignation was not the result of any issues with players’ parents.
“They were really supportive,” he said.
He said that extended to Santos and district superintendent Dave LaRose.
“Ed has been great,” Lutzenhiser said. “I told him that he’s been the best athletic director I’ve ever had.”
Before coming to South, Lutzenhiser spent eight years away from the bench. He has compiled a 132-124 record in 11 seasons at five different Washington high schools. Lutzenhiser won 65.8 percent of his games with the Wolves — the highest mark of his career.
“I’ve been really blessed with the kids here,” he said. “It makes me look good.”
Lutzenhiser, who earned his master’s degree in physics at UW, said he plans to continue as a science teacher at South. He eventually would like to coach again, whether it is at the high-school or community-college level.
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