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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
The Elmira girls basketball team will have a familiar face, in a new role, as the season kicks off this year.

A’Don Allen III will take over as the head coach after Jake Dailey stepped aside last month. Allen was officially approved as head coach during the school board meeting on Wednesday night.

Allen has been with Dailey for all the team’s success in recent years, serving as the JV coach. Now Allen takes over as the varsity head coach.

“I can’t really put it into words,” Allen said. “Jake took a chance on me when he asked me to be his JV coach years ago and I just put a lot of hard work in. I really have just invested so much time and effort and emotion into the program, so I am honored and blessed to have the chance to be the next coach. I just hope I am going to continue the excellence along with the staff we have built.”

With Dailey at the helm of the varsity program the Express had a lot of success. Elmira went 102-65 under Dailey, including 96-22 over his final six years. They won four straight sectional titles from 2016-17 to 2019-20 and they won the STAC West Division title five years in a row, starting in 2016.

Allen was there with Dailey as they built the program to that level, and now he hopes to maintain that level of success.

“We explained to the girls we are here to put banners on the wall,” Allen said. “I started with Jake when we first got here, we were not very good. Our program was not very good. We built it and we want to stay where we are at and we explained to the girls if you are here you have to be a part of that and so far it seems like everyone has that buy-in.”

While it can be hard to maintain success, Allen knows a lot of these girls witnessed the work and effort the players before them put in.

“The nice thing is the players that were here before set a foundation and so many of these girls had a front row seat to the work that Kiara Fisher and Zaria Thomas and Zaria Shazer and Morgan Gentile and so many others put into the program, so they understand what the expectation is and that piece won’t change, n matter who the coach is.

“The expectation is you are going to come in and you are going to work and our goal is to continue to put plaques and banners on our wall as a varsity program.”

One thing that makes the transition a bit easier for Allen is that many of the varsity players right now were players he coached in JV.

“The nice thing is all the girls who will be on varsity played JV with me at some point and time,” Allen said. “We won a lot of games at the JV level, so it will be nice to get into that transition on being on varsity.

“They know me and we all have a great rapport with this group. We have watched them all grow up, so many of them. So it’s sad that some of the girls, it’s their last year, but it’s exciting for me to go from that group on JV and be able to start with that group as my first year as the varsity coach.”

IN TOP PHOTO: Elmira coach A’Don Allen. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES

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