Longtime South Kitsap assistant Darren Bowden named Bremerton boys basketball coach

Darren Bowden has coached basketball for the past two decades, but he’s about to be a rookie again.

Bowden landed his first head-coaching job at the high school level this week after coaching at Cedar Heights Junior High School in Port Orchard and logging 12 years as an assistant for the South Kitsap High School boys basketball team.

On Monday, he was named coach of the Bremerton High School boys basketball team.

“Number one, I hope to bring success,” said Bowden, 41. “I hope to bring winning ways, a lot of enthusiasm, a passion to win and to get to the state tournament.”

Bowden replaces Casey Lindberg, the 11-year coach who twice led Bremerton to the Class 3A state tournament, including last season when the team won the Olympic League regular-season championship. He resigned in June, becoming the assistant principal at Kopachuck Middle School of the Peninsula School District.

The hire ends a lengthy search that saw Bremerton repost the coaching vacancy after an initial round of interviews failed to produce a hire.

Bremerton assistants Phil Olwell and Joe Wilson, familiar with the program and on a first-name basis with the current players, applied the second time around. But the district chose to move in a different direction.

Bowden is a social studies teacher at South Kitsap and will stay in his post while coaching Bremerton basketball.

Athletic Director George Duarte said Bowden’s experience,

The new coach will be introduced to the players on Wednesday, Athletic Director George Durate said.

"We are excited to have hired such a quality coach with a proven track record of success," Duarte said in an e-mail Monday.

The hire ends a lengthy search that saw the district repost the vacancy on its website after an initial round of interviews failed to produce the right candidate.

enthusiasm and record of success made him the strongest candidate. South Kitsap advanced to the 4A state tournament six times during Bowden’s tenure as an assistant.

“He is at the prime of his career,” Duarte said in an email. “We are excited to have hired a coach with his qualities and believe he can continue to raise the bar of success for Knight basketball.”

Raised in a basketball-loving family, Bowden’s father coached at Prosser High School for 16 seasons and won a state championship in 1967.

After graduating from Eastern Washington University, Bowden coached at Cedar Heights prior to becoming an assistant for the high school squad under John Callaghan.

He and Callaghan arrived to South Kitsap in the same season 13 years ago, building the program and reaching the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome six consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2006, placing second in 2004 and third in 2006.

Bowden believes he can duplicate that success at Bremerton, coming off its winningest season since 1999, when it placed fifth at state.

“You get used to finishing your season at the Tacoma Dome,” Bowden said of reaching state. “I hope to get back there.”

The Knights played at a frenetic pace last season, pressuring full-court on defense and creating turnovers to generate easy points on offense.

Expect a similar approach in 2010-11.

“It’s going to be a lot of up-tempo, pushing the ball and running,” said Bowden, who will be paid $5,320. “We’re going to try to put up points, then we’re going to turn around and play hard-nosed defense.”

Andre Coleman, a returning senior who was a key member of the Knights’ state-tournament team of 2009-10, said he expects a smooth transition, though he acknowledged it may take time to adjust to a new coach.

“It can be hard to play for someone you don’t know, I could walk past him and not even know he’s my coach,” said Coleman, who as of Wednesday afternoon had yet to meet Bowden. “But I don’t think it will be that big of a problem, we’ve just got to stick together and play hard.”

The 6-foot-2-inch guard averaged 15.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season and figures to be a focal point of Bremerton’s offense when the season begins in December.

Coleman wants to return to the Tacoma Dome.

“That’s always the goal,” he said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time. It’s gonna be fun.”

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