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Branch Dismissed as the South Lakes Boys’ Basketball Coach

Interim coach expected to be selected this week.

Darryl Branch, the boys’ head basketball coach at South Lakes High School for the past two years, will not be with the program this upcoming winter season.

Branch was let go as head coach early last week. South Lakes Principal Bruce Butler would not say why Branch, a longtime assistant coach with the Seahawks prior to becoming head coach in 2007, was released.

“Darryl served us well and did a very good job with the program for a long time,” said Butler on Monday. “He put his heart into it. We thought it was a good time to take a step in this direction.”

Pre-season practices for the upcoming season are set to start up in November. Butler said an interim head coach for the 2009-2010 season will likely be named this week. The interim head coach selection will probably be someone who has been a part of and is familiar with the South Lakes’ program.

Butler said Linda Jones, the school’s director of student activities, was overseeing the process of bringing in an interim head coach.

“We have a large group of experienced coaches that have been with the program a long time,” said Butler. “The time isn’t there to go into a lengthy interview process.”

Following the season, Butler said there will be an extensive job search to find a long term head coach.

<b>BRANCH</b>, a 1989 South Lakes graduate, joined the Seahawks’ basketball program as a part of Wendell Byrd’s staff in 1993. He remained an assistant with Byrd for 14 years before being named head coach in May of 2007 at the age of 36.

Byrd, a legendary coaching figure in the Northern Region, stepped down following the 2006-’07 high school basketball season. During his 23 years as head coach, Byrd won 441 games and led the Seahawks to 12 district titles, six region crowns and two state AAA runner-up finishes.

Branch, in his first season as head coach (2007-’08 season), led South Lakes to a 17-6 record. The Seahawks, however, lost to McLean in a first round Liberty District playoff game, and did not qualify for the 16-team region tournament. Senior point guard Curtis Keys earned First Team All-District honors that season for the Seahawks.

Last season, South Lakes finished 14-9 overall and was second in the regular season district standings. Once again, however, the Seahawks lost to McLean in the first round at districts and did not make regionals. Senior point guard Travis Williams averaged 19 points per game and earned First Team All-District accolades.