by J.O. Parker
Some may have thought that the number 7 seed Montezuma Braves wouldn’t get out of the gate, let alone beat the top three teams in the state to capture the Class 1A State Basketball Championship, the first in 31-years at the school.
That improbable, amazing finish and a 22-2 record has led the Des Moines Register to name Braves Head Basketball Coach Derrick Dengler as the All-Iowa Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year.
“I thought it was crazy that he got the award over all the coaches in the state,” said Masin Shearer, a sophomore on the scrappy, tough Braves team. “It is well deserved.”
“He’s put in so many sacrifices and hours into us and I appreciate the time and hustle that he just gives on a day to day basis to help us be successful as athletes at Montezuma,” added Senior Cole Watts. “My relationship with him is so strong and wining that championship and making it to state has been an amazing feeling and dream of mine, but in all honestly, it’s even more rewarding to see him and his hard work pay off, too!”
Montezuma Junior Eddie Burgess said of Coach Dengler, that he loves to have fun and joke around, but during practice, “We don’t mess around. We get the job done.”
Burgess said the Braves went from fourth at state in 2019 to third in 2020 to winning the title this year.
“We have gotten better and better over the three years,” Burgess said. “He has done a great job and is a great guy. He makes you play hard, but enjoy the game.”
“Playing for him has been super cool,” said Senior Trey Shearer, who, along with Watts and Burgess, landed on the Class 1A All-Tournament Team and was also named the All-Tournament Most Valuable Player. “No one is more deserving of the honor than him.”
Coach Dengler said the coaching honor is more about the community and kids than it is about him.
“There are many great coaches in the state, so to even be considered, I feel very fortunate,” said Coach Dengler. “It takes a team and great community to have the success we have had. It’s a nice honor.”