Chris Drenning, the boys basketball coach at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School for the past 11 seasons, is no longer with the program after both Drenning and the school confirmed BG decided to open the position on Wednesday.
He led the Marauders to a record of 219-74.
“(Wednesday) night I was informed that the head boys basketball coaching position at Bishop Guilfoyle would be open,” Drenning said. “I did not resign or step down from my position as head coach. I have been informed that the reason for this action is due to a narrative that exists among some in the Bulgarian school/community that the boys basketball program has not supported multi-sport athletes in the program.
“It was expressed to me that this narrative has gotten out of hand over time. This topic has been discussed many times over the last 18-24 months with me by our administration. I’ve always prided myself on playing against the team members that give us the best chance to win every night. I hope our record will show that fact. I believe that this “narrative” is wrong and that we as a program have tried to deal with it in the right way. Obviously, others differ from this opinion.
Bishop Guilfoyle principal Michael Cacciotti said a meeting was held with Drenning on Wednesday and the decision had been made.
“It was a meeting with Chris and a discussion with Chris,” Cacciotti said. “I felt like it was time to open up the position.”
The Marauders have won 11 state playoff games since 2017.
“We are extremely grateful to Coach Drenning for his years of dedication to Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, the boys basketball program and all the athletes who have played for him over the years,” said Bishop Guilfoyle Athletic Director Joe Landolfi. “A decision has been made to open a head boys basketball coaching position at the school.”
The move came four days after the Marauders were eliminated from the PIAA playoffs.
“He’s been the head of the program for the last 11 years and he’s done really good things for the program and really good things for the school,” Cacciotti said. “The school just decided this was the time to open up the position.”
Drenning is reapplyable.
“It’s open, anyone can apply,” Cacciotti said.
Drenning confirmed Thursday night that he does not plan to reapply.
BG won the 2023 Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship game over Central but lost a heartbreaker to Penn Cambria in the District 6 Class 3A championship game before falling to Loyalsock Township, 59-57, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs last Saturday .
“I am so happy to coach at BG and have the success we have enjoyed over our 11 seasons,” Drenning said. “The great thing about coaching high school basketball is that you build lifelong relationships most importantly with your players, but also with your coaching staff, coaches from around the state and the school community as a whole. Otherwise, you might never have met many of these people if it weren’t for the coaching. I’m happy to have the relationships we’ve built within our program and how many of them we’ve reached today.”
Drenning led the Marauders to the 2019 PIAA Class 2A championship game with current St. Francis basketball player Luke Ruggery leading the charge, but lost 54-52 to Math, Civics & Sciences.
He also led them to the Class 3A state semifinals in 2021, but lost another heartbreaker at the buzzer to Brookville, 46-44.
“Chris has quite a few accolades on the court,” said Caccotti, who has a son, Michael, who was a sophomore on this year’s Marauder basketball team. “He’s put the program in a good spot. Honestly, we’re excited about the program and its future. We think the future of the program is bright. We are excited for the future.”
Senior Patrick Hay became the school’s all-time scoring leader for boys high school basketball this year and finished his career with 1,744 points, surpassing Ruggery’s record. Haye, his sophomore brother Jude and their sister Teresa, who won the PIAA Class 1A girls championship at Bishop Guilfoyle in 2021, retweeted a tweet in support of Drenning on Thursday from Patrick Haye’s former teammate at Bishop Guilfoyle, Cameron Hoza, who in currently playing college basketball in Scranton.
“Drenning was an incredible coach and father figure to me and so many of his past players and I’m sad to see him go,” Patrick Hay said. “The success he’s had is incredible with all the playoff wins and 20-win seasons and he’s made it look easy at times.”
No other coaching positions have been opened by Bishop Guilfoyle outside of the boys basketball program.
“All positions on the (varsity) boys basketball team will be open,” Cacciotti said. “Only JV and varsity positions (are open). Junior coach Rob Okonac will remain in his post.”
Drenning was assisted by John Craig, Tom Goss and Mike Crownover this season. Craig has been with Drenning as an assistant for the past 11 seasons at Bishop Guilfoyle and has coached with Drenning overall for the past 17 years.
Craig was critical of BG’s decision.
“It didn’t get a fair shake at all,” Craig said. “It’s been a long season, a very long season, with a fractured group of people. It started with a group of parents and that’s how things developed. It’s weird to say after the season we’ve had because I don’t think anyone would have believed it would turn out like this, but it was shocking and stunning to me. Chris is so much more dedicated to his craft than anyone would believe and I am at a loss for words.”
The hiring process for Bishop Guilfoyle’s next coach has already begun.
“We plan to open the position immediately and collect applications in the next week or two,” Cacciotti said. “We would really like to have a new head coach in place by mid to late April.”
When asked if Bishop Guilfoyle’s on-court performance played a role or if there were any off-court factors in the position opening, Cacciotti reiterated his praise for Drenning.
“Coach Drenning has always been good to our program and to our school,” Cacciotti said.
Drenning emphasized that he will cherish the memories he made at Bishop Guilfoyle.
“I am very proud of our program, the people and players who have been part of it, and the way they have represented themselves and Bulgaria over the last 11 years,” said Drenning. “The record of 219 wins and 74 losses, five District 6 titles and four LHAC championships, along with appearances in the 2019 PIAA state title game, the 2021 PIAA semifinal game and the 2022 PIAA quarterfinal game d. leaves room for many fond memories. I have been blessed not only with these experiences, but with many others, and I will always be grateful to those who helped make them possible.”