2018 N-G girls' basketball Coach of the Year | Schlarman's Keith Peoples

2018 N-G girls' basketball Coach of the Year | Schlarman's Keith Peoples

Why he's Coach of the Year: Along with his trusty quartet of assistants — Jerry O'Neal, Ollie Harrison, David Gouard Jr. and LaTana Lillard — as well as his "personal head and assistant coaches" in wife Tricia and son Keison, Peoples spurred the Hilltoppers to previously unseen heights. Under Peoples' leadership, Schlarman girls' basketball rolled to a 33-1 record while snagging its first state championship, winning the Vermilion Valley Conference regular season title and capturing the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament trophy.

Season highlights: "Without a doubt, winning the state championship. I would also say starting off our season in the Galesburg Tournament 5-0 was a highlight. After our disappointing loss to Heyworth (in a 2017 sectional semifinal), the coaching staff and myself didn't know what type of team we would have come November. I was very surprised at how well we played in the beginning of the season. And I was even more excited about the way we ended our last seven games."

A few of my favorites: My favorite food is chicken and shrimp carbonara. The Olive Garden has a nice sample of it. ... My first car was a Nissan Maxima, but I didn't have it very long. My first real car was an Infinity G45. ... My favorite non-sports hobby is home remodeling projects. I don't always finish. I start a lot of them. ... My dream vacation destination is Belize. My wife and I took a vacation to Belize in 2005. I would love to go back. ... My favorite sporting event I've attended live is the IHSA 1A and 2A state playoffs. That was the most exciting. Also, right after the state championship on Saturday, my daughter Anaya and I traveled to South Bend that Sunday morning to watch Notre Dame play North Carolina State on Senior Night. That was very exciting to be there. ... My favorite professional/college sports team is the Oklahoma City Thunder. I enjoy their style of play. I also enjoy watching Russell Westbrook and the team play. I also enjoy watching the San Antonio Spurs, and the (Ole Miss) Running Rebels back in the day. ... My favorite band/musician is Maxwell. That's one of my favorite soul artists.

Two items on my bucket list: A one-week vacation with my family and learning how to play the piano.

What I enjoy most about coaching: "I enjoy practice. I enjoy preparing and watching our kids grow and develop on and off the basketball court. I really enjoy when former players that I've coached come back and tell me things like, 'Hey, coach, I really appreciate you taking time out to teach me x, y and z.' I enjoy my coaching staff, listening and learning from them. I enjoy learning more about the sport from other great coaches."

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