Just before practice Tuesday, 40th year Bonnabel head basketball coach Glenn Dyer was asked about his school’s previous trips to the state’s Final Four.
There was 1991, 2007, 2017, and now this year as his Bruins prepare for a Thursday showdown with Thibodaux in the LHSAA 5A Semifinals.
“Maybe the fourth time’s a charm,” said Dyer.
He just may have the team to do it, but to get there No. 4 seed Bonnabel (28-5) must square off with No.1 seed Thibodaux(31-2) for the third time in two seasons. The Bruins knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs last season in the Bi-District Round 61-55, but fell to Thibodaux earlier this season at the St. Aug Tournament 60-52.
“(Thibodaux) is a well-balanced ball club, they can shoot it, can defend, they’re really tough. I can tell our guys we can’t give them too many second chance baskets we’ve got to rebound and defend to the best of our ability on Thursday,” said Dyer.
Since losing to Thibodaux on December 28, the Bruins have gone 16-1 including a perfect 8-0 district mark in claiming the 8-5A District Title.
“This year’s team has been a special group for us,” said Dyer. “We’ve got two outstanding guards; Donte Mitchell is averaging about 17 (points) a game and Rodney Munson, Jr. is right at 20 (points per game). They blend with a bunch of other guys I call role players because they do so many different roles. They rebound, they defend, and they can score so we have overall a pretty balanced team.”
“It feels really good,” said Munson, Jr. “We’re just really trying to one thing, get a ring.”
Dyer began his career as the head coach at Bonnabel in 1979. 40 years later, safe to say a lot has changed.
“I guess I’ve mellowed a little bit I’m sure the New Orleans Officials Association would say I haven’t mellowed but I think I have,” said Dyer. “I have to attribute that to my assistants Micah Hagans and Maurice Tines, they do all the grunt work all the organizing things that take the load off of me and I’m able to just coach and get into the game and do what I have to do.”
“He’s been a father-like influence to me,” said Hagans who not only has coached under Dyer but played for him all four years of high school. “He’s been amazing on the court and off the court. As soon as I got my degree and finished playing college basketball (at Talladega College) he called me and offered me a job on his staff. It’s been amazing working next to him working along side of him and just kind of building this thing to where it is now. he’s been everything to me.”
“As a coach, I guess I’m one of these guys that we try to teach the kids to play basketball,” said Dyer. “We’re not going out there to pass the ball around 30-or-40 times each possesion. We want to play and get up and down the floor. I allow the kids to have a little freedom we want the input from them because we want to know how they feel. What’s going on inside their head as well as on the court. Then it’s easy to coach because you can relate to them as much as you can be more of a Dad sometimes but a coach at other times too.”
“People see the passion, but I think one thing people don’t see is the guy he is behind the scenes,” said Hagans. “He goes all out for these kids and that’s kind of the reason why the kids buy into what he does. He’s been amazing to them off the court. He’s a big teddy bear, he comes off as this aggressive guy but he’ll do anything for those kids. The accountability he demands from the kids but also the love off the court is kind of the perfect balance on why he’s been so successful.”
“Coach Dyer is an uplifting guy,” said Mitchell. “He always wants us to be the best that we can be and wants us to be great in life.”
“I guess the thing that I’m most proud of is the consistency of the program,” said Dyer. “We’re averaging a little over 19 wins a season, I think I reached 780 (career) wins maybe this year. I’ve been really lucky, I’ve had some great assistants at this school, some principals that have been really involved. Miss (Dawn) Kalb has been great for us the last eight years. It’s not about the X’s and O’s but as people say the Johnny’s and the Joe’s. When you have players you can coach your brains out.
And even after four decades, Dyer is not finished with learning more about the game he loves.
“We call each other after games and after practices and say ‘hey this game was on did you see what North Carolina just did?” said Hagans. “We kind of have been students of the game and he’s never lost that aspect of it even though he’s been in the game 40 years he’s still learning and digging into his craft.”
“The biggest thing I’d like people to realize is hey I’ve been here this long and I’m here for a reason,” said Dyer. “I’m here to help your kids. We want as many kids in the Kenner area to realize that hey we’ve got a great program here. We’re going to work you hard, we’re going to make sure you’re giving one hundred percent at practice everyday, and the games are just the fun part. We’re going to be consistent, we’re going to be fair, and we’re going to do the best for your child.”