Villa Grove boys' hoops hires Russell

Villa Grove boys' hoops hires Russell

Brian Russell admits he doesn't know much about Villa Grove boys' basketball.

The former Armstrong-Potomac boys' basketball head coach will have a crash course this summer after he was named the Blue Devils' new head coach at Villa Grove's school board meeting Monday.

Russell — whose contract was not renewed in April by the Armstrong-Potomac school board after five seasons coaching the Trojans — said he will meet with Villa Grove players next Tuesday. Russell replaces Tap Pace.

"From what little information I've gotten about the players, I think they're excited about the change in direction, and I'm looking forward to it as well," Russell said. "Basically, what interested me was the fact that it was a basketball coaching job. As I've said before, I know I can coach. This gives me an opportunity to continue to do what I love to do."

Villa Grove lost 48-36 to eventual regional champion Arcola last season in a Class 1A Chrisman Regional semifinal to end its season.

Russell went 47-95 coaching the Trojans, and the 1996 Bismarck-Henning graduate played basketball for two years at Danville Area Community College before graduating from Pikeville University in Pikeville, Ky., in 2001. He was an assistant boys' basketball coach at Westville and head baseball coach at Westville before coming to A-P prior to the 2007-08 school year.

Matt Daniels

PBL selects girls' hoops coach. The Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board approved the hiring of Clarissa Gross as the new varsity girls' basketball coach at its May 16 meeting.

Gross replaces Travis Duley, who spent six years at the Panthers' helm before resigning for family reasons in March.

Assistant coaches Lynn Rubarts and Ray VanAntwerp will remain with the program, Gross said. VanAntwerp will be the head coach of the freshman girls' team.

Cody Westerlund