Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2012, 10:07 pm

Morrison's Peugh feeling more in his element on the Mustang boys' bench

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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com

Photo: Sauk Valley Newspapers
Morrison boys' basketball coach Dave Peugh
The team's final win-loss record notwithstanding, career boys' basketball coach Dave Peugh enjoyed the season he spent on the sidelines with the Morrison girls' cagers.

But when Jerry Navarra ended his second stint as the Mustang boys' head coach after the 2011-12 campaign -- ending nearly two decades on the Morrison bench -- Peugh felt like he had a chance to step back into his coaching element.

"You know, I had a lot of fun last year coaching the girls," said Peugh, who led the Fillies to a 5-23 finish last winter that included a 3-11 Three Rivers Conference mark -- ironically, the same league record tallied by the Morrison boys, who finished 9-22 overall.

With a combined 21 seasonsspent on staff at Rock Falls and Sterling -- 18 of which was spent with the Rockets -- and nearly three decades coaching boys' teams from the grade-school to prep levels, Peugh knew he couldn't pass on the opportunity after Navarra retired.

"I went through the process and was interviewed, and they offered me the job, which I was very excited about," he said. "In my heart, I've always felt more at home coaching the guys, and with this year's team, I've got all good kids who seem to work hard. They're a good combo, and very coachable. It's a welcoming feeling, having something like this.''

Although the Mustangs have struggled in the early going at 1-5 -- dropping four of five games at the Sauk Valley Shootout and then taking a 73-42 loss to unbeaten Riverdale in their TRAC-9 opener -- Peugh remains optimistic about what he can build with this group.

"A lot of these guys played on our state-title football team (in 2011), and they're very quick and athletic," he said. "I think we can have a nice season, at least be competitive in every game."

Ex-Comet ascends to Morrison girls' post: To replace Peugh, Morrison wound up turning to one of its biggest Three Rivers rivals.

Tyler Whitebread, a 2002 Sterling Newman graduate and former prep three-sport standout, also is making a career move much the same as Peugh did last year, albeit on more limited scale experience-wise.

A graduate of Illinois State, Whitebread comes to the Fillies after spending the last four seasons coaching the boys' basketball squad at Kirkland Hiawatha.

"It's a little different, but the game is basically the same," he said. "Coming in here with some (head-coaching) experience is giving me a good idea of the approach I need to take with some of the girls, and the things we can do on offense and defense.''

Being a former Comet, Whitebread admits some of his friends and family have had a harder time adjusting to his new surroundings than himself.

"I've been able to deal with it, a lot better than some of my friends from Newman," he said. "My friends, and family, but it's all been in good fun. It's one of those things when you have a rivalry that's so close; I've heard it from both sides. But it's been a nice transition for me. There's a lot of good kids at Morrison who like to work hard."