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Panthers switch coaches after Kucela retirement

Posted: November 18, 2012 - 12:08am

When Lakeside opens its basketball season at Jefferson County Tuesday, the teams will look a little different than it did last week..

Faced with a 3 percent reduction in pensions under the Georgia Teacher Retirement System that takes effect for those who retire after Nov. 30, boys head coach John Kucela signed his retirement papers Monday afternoon.

“It was kind of a last-minute decision to do it,” said Kucela, who was entering his third season as Panthers head coach. “I’ve got the time in, 30-something years. It was a decision I had to go ahead and make.”

Lakeside athletic director Donnie Burch understood Kucela’s decision.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Burch. “You want to think about the program, but you want to think about the next 20 years of your life, too.”

Taking over the reins of the boys program is girls head coach Jody Hilley, who will hand over the reins of the girls program to assistant coach Drew Shelton.

The current boys assistant coaches will remain in place.

Burch said Kucela, a special education teacher, isn’t the only educator to put in retirement papers ahead of the deadline. Burch said his decision actually helps the school.

“He has to resign for us to be able to post the (teaching) position,” Burch said. “In a weird way it kind of helps us him doing it earlier.”

Burch thinks the team is going to respond just fine.

“Offenses and defenses have already been installed, now it’s just a matter of repetition and fine-tuning,” he said.

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