“Sean was highly successful in bringing out the best in his student-athletes. He expected them to work hard, put the interests of the team first, and respect their opponents, on and off the court. We are grateful for his commitment to the Prep, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Connolly, The Salem News boys basketball Coach of the Year in 2010, arguably did his best job this season.
The Eagles entered the year with low expectations, but finished 18-2 in the regular season and captured the Catholic Conference championship.
Their season ended in heart-breaking fashion in the Div. 1 North quarterfinals against Andover. St. John’s lost in overtime, 62-59, after Andover converted a controversial buzzer beater at the end of regulation. Andover guard David Giribaldi’s layup attempt was initially ruled to be too late, but the officials overturned that call moments later, forcing overtime.
“He always pushed us to keep going, to constantly get better. If we took a step back, he made us take two steps forward,” senior forward Josh Syska said. “He believed in us all the way. From the end of the season last year he told us he knew we’d be good and he wouldn’t give up on us. He knew people weren’t going to believe in us, but he stayed true. He knew we were going to be good.”
Delivering the news to his players was the hardest part of the Connolly’s decision.
“They were kind of shocked. That was the toughest part of it, talking with the kids and meeting with them,” Connolly, 33, said. “They’re a great group and they put a lot of time and effort in. It was just tough telling them, feeling like you’re letting them down.”
St. John’s has a solid nucleus of players returning, including sophomore guard Ben Judson, junior forward Max Butterbrodt, sophomore forward Jake Burt, and junior guard Max Burt.
Sean Connolly's Head Coaching Record Bishop Fenwick 2004-05: 5-15 2005-06: 12-9 2006-07: 17-6 2007-08: 13-10 Bishop Fenwick totals: 47-40St. John's Prep 2008-09: 11-10 2009-10: 21-3* 2010-11: 25-1% 2011-12: 13-82012-13: 19-3* St. John's Prep totals: 89-25 Career total: 136-65 %Division 1 state champions*Catholic Conference champs