OAKLAND -- "My big goal was to be a head coach," said 2008 Stewardson-Strasburg graduate Ben Giertz, who played at Lake Land College and Greenville College.

Giertz, who turns 26 in August, has achieved that goal as he has been named the Tri-County boys' basketball head coach. Giertz replaces Blake Doerhing, who was named the coach at Cerro Gordo/Bement and the athletics director at Cerro Gordo. 

"All of it happened at once and it is exciting and shocking," said Giertz. "I didn't expect things to come as quickly as they did, but I want to get a jump on the opportunity and I am excited to get started."

The Titans, who compete in the Little Okaw Valley Conference Southeast Division, were 21-7 last year but lost 11 players due to graduation. Tri-County is a sports co-op of Oakland, Kansas and for the second year Shiloh.

Giertz is to teach elementary physical education at Shiloh.

For the last two years Giertz has coached the seventh grade boys at Stewardson-Strasburg and was an assistant for the eighth grade under Nick Niemerg and guided the Comets to the Class 1A state tournament in 2014, finishing 16-6.

At Stew-Stras Giertz played under Mike Walker and scored over 1,000 points in his career and helped the Comets to 19-10 record his senior year, scoring 16.6 points and averaging 3.8 assists and two steals per game. He was a first team National Trail Conference player and played in the Central Illinois All-Star game, scoring 15 points in a 84-74 NTC win over the Little Illini Conference. He was an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association special mention all-state player as a junior, averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

"I have been around the game and have three coaches (Greenville's George Barber, former Lake Land coach Cedric Brown and Walker) I have taken bits and pieces from," said Giertz. "Hard work and good attitudes and effort each day is pretty important an being able to accept new challenges and working as a team."

Giertz, who plans to move closer to Hume, plans to meet the team soon. The Titans have had several open gyms in the summer.

"I know I want to see what we have, but our defense is probably going to be man-to-man," said Gietz. "We have to be able to make adjustments with that and play zone. Offensively, I would like to get up and down the court, but it depends what we have."

Casey Pinnell, a 2003 graduate of Paris, who is the Tri-County football coach is also the Oakland athletics director.

"Coaching at Stew-Stras helped me get the feel for some stuff and a feel for the game on the other side," said Giertz of being a coach rather than a player. "I am excited for the new challenge."

Contact Monahan at mmonahan@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6854

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Mike Monahan covers area sports for the JG-TC.

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