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SULLIVAN — Craig Black is going home.

The 2007 Sullivan graduate was named the head boys basketball coach at a special Sullivan board meeting on June 29.

He replaces Chet Reeder, a Sullivan graduate who left the Redskins to take the head boys basketball coaching position at Teutopolis in mid-June.

"It means quite a bit to be name the head coach," Black said. "I get to be back in the area where my family and her parents are. I get to be back at the high school I played at. I can't remember the lat time I watched a game at Sullivan High School. It will be cool to get back in the gym and see what it is like on the coaching end of things."

Black has coached at Fithian Oakwood for the last four seasons compiling a 71-43 (.623) record. He will teach physical education at Sullivan.

"Anytime you lose a coach in the summer you want to move as quickly as you can to get a person hired so that they still have a chance to be with the team in the summer," said Sullivan Athletic Director Ryan Aikman. "I like the fact Craig Black comes with some experience, four years of varsity with some success. That is always an appealing thing.

"The other thing I like and it is the same thing as coach Myers (new football coach) is that he really wants to be at Sullivan. In the interview he really came across as wanting to be at Sullivan for the long haul. I think he does a good job relating to the kids."

Black was a a freshman coach and varsity assistant under Doug Robinson in 2012-13 and 2013-14 before taking over as Oakwood's head coach. He went 23-8, which was the most wins since the 1989-90 team went 23-6. His second season Oakwood went 15-12 and was 14-13 in 2016-17. Last season, the Comets won the Vermilion Valley Conference and the conference tournament. It was the first time in 32 years Oakwood swept the conference and conference tournament titles. 

"It was a tough decision," Black said of leaving. "I was not looking around or applying anywhere. When I found out I looked into it and got an application and it happened really fast and happened out of nowhere."

Black was also the track coach at Oakwood for five seasons and was an assistant volleyball coach the last two seasons.

"I was always interested in coming back to Sullivan," said Black. "The administration is good and there are some teachers who were there when I was there. I got close to the group that are going to be seniors at Oakwood and that was the hardest part not being able to coach those guys next year. I enjoyed my time at Oakwood. The administration was really good and I got close to a lot of players. That is the hard part. When I told them they were disappointed with my decision, but understood."

At Sullivan, Black played under Scott Bales all four years and earned honorable mention Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State honors his senior year as a 6-foot-1 guard. He averaged 10.4 points, shooting 46 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range as well as 79 percent from the free-throw line for the 9-16 Redskins. He also was in track one year and was in football all four years. 

Black has talked to two returning assistant coaches, Erik Van Pelt and Craig Toler, and met the players at an open gym on Monday.

"I will bring what we did at Oakwood," said Black. "We will do a little of both defensively (man and zone) and mix in things. Some of the stuff they have already done under Reeder. Offensively, we will be different from what they have done. Reeder left the program in a good spot."

Sullivan was 10-17 last year and 3-4 in the Central Illinois Conference. The Redskins graduated six players. Among the expected returners is Caden Ellis,an honorable mention all-CIC player. 

As for the assistant coaches, Aikman knows it was important to have them stay. 

"They know everybody and have worked with them for a number of years," said Aikman. "They will be able to help coach Black as he gets acclimated to the them and will help him learn the strengths and weaknesses of the team so that he can work to improve the team."

The first day teams can officially start practice is Nov. 5.

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Contact Mike Monahan at (217) 238-6854. Follow him on Twitter: @monahanmikejgtc


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