After 30 years involved with the Great Bridge program, 18 at helm, Gary Obenour has decided to step down as the Head Boys Basketball Coach.
During his reign, Obeonur led the Wildcats to eight regional playoff berths, four Southeastern District titles and an Eastern Region Championship in 2013. He coached a trio of 1000-point scorers in Briante Weber (2007-10), Taj Owens (2009-13) and Marcus Evans (2011-13), all of whom went on to play at the next level.
Weber went on to have a decorated collegiate career at VCU, where he finished 12 steals shy of the NCAA all-time record, and now plays for the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. Owens played at Radford, while Evans scored 1350 points in two seasons at Rice before transferring to VCU.
"I had promised Briante Weber before I stepped down that I would retire his jersey if he made it to the NBA. That was important to me to get that piece out of the way. The other thing was I wanted to leave the program in a good position," Obenour told VirginiaPreps.com.
"There are a lot of things in place here with how I wanted my kids to act and handle themselves. I think our J.V. Coach, Scott Bigbie, would hopefully be a likely candidate to take over the program. That's one of the reasons why I felt comfortable in doing what I did."
During those five seasons where Weber, Owens or Evans was on the court, the Wildcats ranked among the premier programs in the state with a overall record of 94-37. Their 2012-13 team that won the region title beat some highly regarded squads on their way to achieving the Chesapeake school's first trip to the State Tournament since 1958.
In the semifinals, Great Bridge took down defending State Champ Hampton, led by NC State guard Anthony 'Cat' Barber, 67-60 in front of more than 4000 spectators at the Norfolk Scope. They followed that up by beating Providence forward Rajay Bullock and Kecoughtan, 64-55 to claim the regional crown before falling to John Marshall 66-55 in the AAA quarterfinals.
Obeonour was also named Southeastern District Coach of the Year five times, recognition that he values greatly considering league foes Deep Creek, Indian River, King's Fork and Nansemond River all featured at least one player that would go on to play at the professional ranks themselves.
"That really meant a lot to me because I respect a lot of those guys and how they run their programs," Obenour acknowledged. "That was heartfelt and I appreciated that honor probably as much as any other, being recognized by my colleagues."
Obenour, 53, isn't closing the door on returning to the hardwood one day in the future.
"A lot coaches say they are stepping down and not going back. I'm not foolish enough to say that I'll never coach again because when you coach as long as I have, it's in your blood," Obenour pointed out.
"I'm always going to listen to opportunities. But right now as far as I'm concerned, I have some other opportunities outside of coaching that I'm looking at and going to pursue."
For now, Obenour is unsure how he will be spending his time this coming winter. He knows it'll be an adjustment.
"It's going to be different," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do during the season. I hope my wife doesn't kick me out of the house."
Great Bridge went 6-14 overall last season, 3-7 in Conference 17, and fell to Churchland 60-50 in the quarterfinals of their conference tourney. They are scheduled to open up the 2017-18 campaign on December 1st at Southeastern District rival Grassfield.
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