Loyalsock’s Insinger sets state record with 802nd boys basketball win
The excited 22-year-old physical education teacher hurried down the hall and found Barry Boyer. Young Ron Insinger believed he had a perfect plan. Boyer would be head coach and Insinger would be the assistant, soaking up the knowledge and learning.
Boyer countered. He thought it should be the other way around. Good call.
The man who hesitated to become a head coach is now a coaching legend. No high school boys basketball coach in Pennsylvania history has won more games than Insinger. After nine months of waiting, Insinger now owns the state’s all-time record to himself.
Omar Little scored 20 points, every starter grabbed at least five rebounds and Wes LaPoint shined off the bench Friday as Loyalsock routed visiting Warrior Run, 79-30 and delivered Insinger his state-record 802nd career win. Insinger moved ahead of former North Catholic coach Don Graham and now holds a record that might never be broken.
“I was 22 years old and didn’t think I was ready to be a head coach. I needed to be under someone’s leadership for a while and I wanted Barry to be my mentor,” Insinger said. “Once I got going I got into a comfort zone and when you win the hearts of your players that makes it easy for you.”
“History will show us who made the right decision,” Boyer said. “Competitive greatness defines Ron Insinger and Loyalsock basketball. (He) is the greatest coach I’ve ever been around.”
Insinger is the best coach many have ever been around. The future Hall of Famer is 802-269 in 40 seasons. Combining the girls basketball wins he accumulated, Insinger has more than 900 career coaching wins. He has led Loyalsock, a state quarterfinalist last year, to 20 league championships, 17 district titles and 27 20-win seasons while averaging close to 21 wins per season.
Players have changed, generations have changed, rules have changed and the world looks a lot different than it did when Insinger started coaching in 1974. Insinger has remained a constant. Whoever the player, whatever hand he has been dealt, Insinger has adapted and excelled.
This legacy goes beyond the wins and is better measured by all the lives he has influenced. Players from every decade were there last night, so many wanting to take part in history that they helped Insinger make.
“I can’t take credit for being a great coach but I can take credit for teaching kids to be role models and treating them as family,” said Insinger, as many friends, family and former players waited to congratulate and hug him. “I take pride in that. When you do that, good things do happen.”
Loyalsock will name its court after Insinger in a ceremony that begins at 3:30 today. State Sen. E. Eugene Yaw senator will be there as well as PIAA President Bob Lombardi after the Loyalsock school board voted to rename the court last Wednesday. Following last night’s game, State Rep. Rick Mirabito issued a citation to Insinger.
“On behalf of the people of Lycoming County, you make us very proud and truly are a role model,” Mirabito said as fans constantly took photos of Insinger standing nearby. “You have provided a sterling example of hard work and determination for all your players.”
The game was more a coronation than anything as it was a near certainty Loyalsock would deliver Insinger the historic win. The outcome was never in doubt, but Insinger remained as focused on the action in the final minute as he did in the opening minute. As the final seconds ticked away, grandsons Ronnie and Grant literally jumped for joy next to him as players surrounded him and cheered. Granddaughter Kayla happily bounced up and down on the steps a few feet away as wife Carole and daughters Laurie and Lisa all smiled.
Insinger has made family a cornerstone of his coaching career and his program. It seemed appropriate that family surrounded him and shared in the glory as Insinger finally reached the summit.
“It is like a family here. That is how C.I. (Coach Insinger) has built the program,” said LaPoint, who had 12 points, 9 rebounds and made 6 of 7 shots. “C.I. has been amazing. He has taught me so much. From Little Lancers all the way through high school I have learned so much from him.”
That has been the case for 40 years. Insinger had chances to take college jobs along the way, but turned them down. Loyalsock was now a part of him. He was home.
Insinger’s players rewarded him for his loyalty by making his milestone win a true team effort. All but one player scored and both starters and reserves shined. Little was outstanding, scoring 20 points, making 5 steals and grabbing four rebounds in 2 1/2 quarters. Fellow starters Kyle Datres, Ben Sosa, Mike Pastore and Tommy Baggett combined for 22 rebounds and seven steals while Cory Young scored 12 points off the bench.
Loyalsock started slow and did not hit its first field goal until midway through the first quarter, but led by 13 after a quarter and 39-14 by halftime. Loyalsock displayed the Lancer Lightning that has been a program staple, played swarming defense and received strong efforts from reserves Saabir Gibson and Ryan Loeh.
LaPoint dribbled away the final seconds as Loyalsock fans stood and applauded, witnesses to history. Insinger has won 802 games and each one has been special. But this one always will be near the top of his list.
“I am truly blessed. Every year I tell my players that I love them and that I am the luckiest man in the world,” Insinger said. “I’m still having fun. I’m still enjoying it. There’s still a lot of kid in me.”
WARRIOR RUN (30)
Lance Pealer 2 3-4 7, Jared Bender 1 0-0 3, Zack Miller 4 1-2 10, Callen Foresman 4 2-6 10, Sean Morehart 0 0-0 0, Jordan Welliver 0 0-2 0. Totals 11 6-14 30.
Kyle Datres 3 0-0 6, Omar Little 7 4-4 20, Ben Sosa 3 1-3 7, Mike Pastore 3 0-2 7, Tommy Baggett 1 1-2 4, Wes LaPoint 6 0-0 12, Cory Young 5 0-1 12, Saabir Gibson 2 0-0 5, Brennan Casale 0 0-0 0, Ryan Loeh 3 0-2 6. Totals 33 6-14 79.
Warrior Run2 12 11 5-30
Loyalsock15 24 30 10-79
3-pointers: Warrior Run 2 (Bender, Foresman); Loyalsock 7 (Little 2, Young 2, Pastore, Gibson, Baggett).
Records: Loyalsock 1-0, 1-0 HAC-II. Warrior Run 0-1, 0-1.
JV Score: Loyalsock 65-31.