For Ben Widner, this wasn’t necessarily a layup.
A lot of thought went into Widner’s recent decision to step down as the head boys basketball coach at Glenbrook South.
The game has had a hold on him. He’d either played or coached basketball for 32 consecutive years.
But, in the end, his three kids — ages 2, 5 and 7 — and his wife won out.
“My kids are getting older and more active,” said Widner, who will continue to teach history at the Glenview school. “I felt like I was missing too much of their childhood.
“I identify as husband and father before coach.”
Widner, who guided the Titans to a 9-18 record this past season, is leaving a terrific situation. GBS’s best player, Matt Giannakopoulos (18.2 points per game and 59 three-pointers in 2016-17), will graduate, but many of the team’s other key players will return next winter.
So … count GBS as a desirous destination. Someone will get a plum job.
“The cupboard is not empty,” said Widner. “The next coach will not start from ground zero.”
Widner said goodbye to an interesting mix of players, including three highly touted sophomores in Will King, Jimmy McMahon and Gavin Morse and prized freshman Dominic Martinelli.
King played in 19 games before sustaining an injury. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 5.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
McMahon, a 6-2 wing, finished the season with averages of 6.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
The 6-0 Morse, who had a team-high 11 points against Maine West in the season finale, averaged 4.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
And the 6-2 Martinelli — brother of Jimmy Martinelli, a freshman basketball player at New York University — was moved up to the varsity in midseason and wound up scoring 6.4 points per game.
“Glenbrook South has a good chance for success going forward,” said Widner. “I’m leaving a great group of kids. I developed a good relationship with the kids, and that made it hard to leave. I feel badly on that front.”
The 39-year-old Widner, known as one of the good guys in the area’s coaching ranks, coached basketball at Glenbrook South for the past 17 years, including five as head coach.
Before heading to the sideline, Widner put together a solid playing career. A 6-3 combo guard, he was a captain and all-conference player for the Fighting Saints at the University of St. Francis in Joliet. He played his high school basketball at Benet Academy in Lisle.
“All of my years in basketball,” he said, “were fulfilling ones.”