Northshore boys basketball coach Max Ward resigns after two seasons | Prep Sports
Just weeks after Northshore boys basketball coach Max Ward led the Panthers to the Class 5A quarterfinals for the first time in school history, he decided to step down for personal reasons, both he and athletic director Danny Davis confirmed Monday.
Ward said he also has left his post at the school as a special education teacher.
The move came just two years after he took over for Jerry Hernandez, whom he served as an assistant for three seasons. Following one playoff appearance under Hernandez in 2018, Ward went 18-14 in his first season at the helm and then led the Panthers to a 21-12 record this winter and the program’s first two postseason victories in more than a quarter-century.
However, success did not translate into happiness in Ward’s case.
“There was just a difference in philosophies,” he said. “And when they go on and hire whoever it is they’re going to hire, I think it will make sense at that point and time.”
Following a 5-3 start this season, the Panthers reeled off eight consecutive victories, including undefeated runs in the Hannan and inaugural North Shore vs. South Shore tournaments.
They were up and down throughout District 6-5A play, especially while dealing with coronavirus issues that left them with just six players on the roster at one point. In fact, against eventual league champ St. Paul’s, Ward had to dress out a junior varsity player just to have enough bodies, and they nearly pulled off the upset, falling 64-61 on Jan. 15.
Once again, the Panthers heated up just in time for the postseason. They defeated Benton in the first round for their first playoff victory ever in Class 5A and first since defeating John Curtis in the opening round of the 1995 Class 4A tournament.
Northshore followed up with a 58-45 second-round victory on the road at sixth-seeded New Iberia before bowing out at eventual state champion Zachary three days later.
The team boasted a mix of experience and youth, with six senior starters, including second-team All-District forward Margene Chambers, along with starters in sophomore forward James Bridges and freshman guard Kohen Rowbatham. Several other underclassmen contributed, which should leave the Panthers in excellent shape to make another run in 2022.
“We wish Coach Ward well, and he had a super year, but something came up and he said, ‘I gotta go,’ and I said, ‘OK.’ He did a great job in taking the program to a place we have never been,” Davis said. “He is a very hard worker … and it was good to see the kids and the whole team be successful with the pandemic and all the curve balls thrown at us. What he did with those kids and the program was amazing.
“We’re going to open up the position to see if there’s any interest at the school, then we’ll go throughout the parish (school system) and then outside. We’re not in a big rush, but we would like to have him or her be set up for the summer schedule. With all the kids returning, we need to have them set up to duplicate what they did last year or maybe even take it a step further.”
The St. Tammany Parish school system requires the job be posted and available for five days to anyone who works at Northshore to apply. It then will open up for seven days to those inside the school system before it is available to anyone eligible on the outside to apply after that.
Davis said a realistic timetable to hire a replacement would be by mid-May.
Meanwhile, Ward said he is not sure what his next step will be. He wants to remain in coaching and teaching and will “see how things go and keep my options open.”