Pentoney resigns as Golden Tigers’ coach

In his 14 years as boys basketball coach at Hollidaysburg Area High School, Mick Pentoney has never been at a loss for words – or the ability to turn a phrase.

Sometimes it contributed to making Pentoney a colorful and popular figure. Other times it got him into trouble.

The 48-year-old Pentoney, though, was unusually reserved when discussing his decision on Wednesday to step down as the Golden Tigers’ coach.

“I’m just glad we had the opportunity to be here. Fourteen years, it’s a great run. But we’re looking for an opportunity to do some other things. So we decided to resign so that the school could get another coach in place, because it’s a timely process,” Pentoney said. “I had to make a decision what’s best for the program and the best for me.

“That’s really all I have to say.”

Pentoney also said he will be resigning his position as a fourth grade teacher at Longer Elementary, and that he, his wife, Dawn, and sons, Nicholas, 9, and Lucas, 6, will be in the process of moving, although he declined to discuss what opportunities he was leaving Hollidaysburg to pursue.

Pentoney came to Hollidaysburg from Berkeley Spring, W.Va. in 2000 when Kraig Hetz decided to leave the Golden Tigers to take over the Altoona job and was largely able to maintain the momentum Hetz had established with the program.

Pentoney guided the Tigers to their most wins of any coach, stepping down with a 194-145 record. His 2006 and 2010 teams captured District 6 Class AAAA championships.

“We thank Mick for his 14 years of service to the student athletes of Hollidaysburg and we wish him well,” Hollidaysburg athletic director Homer DeLattre said via a press release. “Mick’s leadership and influence on the young men he has coached goes far beyond the basketball court and will continue to do so for years to come.”

The timing of Pentoney’s departure is a bit unusual – the Tigers return all their players from last season, and offseason activities will begin next month.

There were, however, rumblings that Pentoney was not long for the Hollidaysburg post. The Tigers are coming off a 6-15 season, giving them 22 wins over the last three years.

There was speculation that the boys coaching job would come up at a Hollidaysburg School Board meeting after the season, with a group pushing for Pentoney’s ouster and another group prepared to defend him. That never happened, though, and Pentoney said he wasn’t forced out.

“No, no, no. That wasn’t the case at all,” Pentoney said. “There’s always going to be unhappy people. I’ve been there 14 years. My record speaks for itself. That wasn’t an issue.”

Pentoney could be a lightning rod for controversy for his off-court comments and moves as much as for his on-court success. In 2010, Pentoney was suspended after saying he believed Penn State was behind star guard and Nittany Lion signee Taran Buie’s move to State College. That came about a half-year after Pentoney abruptly resigned and then rescinded his resignation – he cited “philosophical differences” on the time demands on student-athletes in their offseasons in regards to being pulled in so many different directions by sports.

Asked how he reflected on incidents like that now, Pentoney stayed mum.

“On that, I have no comment. That’s old business,” Pentoney said with an audible chuckle. “On that, I have no comment at all.”

Pentoney, who was 54-53 in five years at Berkeley Springs, had a ho-hum reaction to the wins and the championships with the Tigers. He said the highlight of his time at Hollidaysburg came from other things.

“I’ve had great, great guys. I’m happy with that,” Pentoney said. “I’m glad that my kids come back and come back and come back and text me and email me and show me pictures of their kids. That’s what it’s all about. They’re young men who are in the armed forces or are doctors or got all kinds of neat jobs. That’s what’s most neat.”

Pentoney said he’d been giving moving on consideration and decided he had to make a move now so as not to put DeLattre and the Hollidaysburg administration in too much of a bind looking for a successor at a late date.

“Mick Pentoney is a hard-working coach who has dedicated 14 years to our program. I certainly understand his desire to advance his career and wish him the best of luck,” Hollidaysburg superintendent and former athletic director Bob Gildea said.

“Everything’s going to work out good. I’m excited for the future that I have with my family. And the basketball team, they’re looking great, so I’m very excited for those guys,” Pentoney said.