One and done: WGH’s Bubon resigns

Tribune Chronicle file photo / Joe Simon Gabe Bubon, above, stepped down as the Warren G. Harding boys basketball coach after one season with the Raiders.

WARREN — Gabe Bubon grew up in the confines of Warren, eventually playing basketball for the Raiders boys basketball team.

He is a 1995 Warren G. Harding High School graduate.

Bubon headed to Point Park University in Pittsburgh where he spent 13 seasons as the Pioneers boys basketball and golf coach for both the men and women.

In mid-June 2018, he took over his alma mater’s team after Andy Vlajkovich left to take a similar position at Canton McKinley High School last May.

Tuesday, Bubon confirmed he’s resigning after one year with the Raiders program.

Tribune Chronicle file photo / Joe Simon Gabe Bubon, right, is shown discussing a call with a referee during a game last season. Bubon stepped down as the Warren G. Harding boys basketball coach Tuesday after one season with the Raiders.

“What I thought everything that was going to be wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be,” said Bubon, whose team was 12-11 this past season. “I got exhausted from it.

“I think it was best for me and best for Warren if I kind of stepped away right now.”

Exhaustion wore on as the Raiders, who were a young team led by two experienced guards in senior Dom McGhee and junior D’Muntzie Owens.

There were highs with a win against Garfield Heights early on, but it hit lows with a loss to Howland at home, the first in some time for the Raiders. The Tigers team was coached by Bubon’s older brother, Dan.

Don’t expect Gabe to head to Howland in the offseason. They have a natural rivalry that dates back to when they were children and still continues today. It’s brothers being brothers.

“That will never happen,” Gabe said. “We can never work together. He knows it. I know it.”

WGH is now under interim coach Keelyn Franklin, a former WGH player who was under then boys basketball coach and current Raiders football coach Steve Arnold. Franklin was part of the freshman coaching staff this past season.

WGH Athletic Director Bill Nicholson said he believes Franklin will be applying for the job. Franklin was on Vlajkovich’s coaching staff at Harding.

Franklin runs a youth program on the weekends to help Warren youth to be prepared by the time they get to the middle-school level, learning fundamental skills.

“I think Keelyn has a pretty good understanding of the dynamics of how our basketball program operates,” said Nicholson in reference to Franklin taking over the team on an interim status.

Nicholson hopes to have a new coach in place by mid May, so the team is ready to go into summer leagues in the beginning of June.

Bubon hopes leaving now helps the new coach get adjusted.

“I had good support,” he said. “Getting there late in the summer didn’t help me. I was going the whole year trying to figure out stuff as I was doing. I thought coming home was going to be a great thing, but I think I was putting too much pressure on myself. I was worrying about a lot of things I couldn’t control. It’s a hard way for me to live my life. I was starting to feel it. I wasn’t feeling like myself. Everything that was building up.

“I didn’t want to do more wrong and drag this thing out. It’ll give them time to find somebody. It is what it is.”

Nicholson said the next coach has to be more than a coach, having to deal with many facets of being a mentor in an inner-city school — father figure, friend, preacher, to name a few.

“It’s going to be someone who is a leader of young men,” Nicholson said. “They’ve got to be strong with kids at times and other times they have to understand modern-day kids sometimes may not be able to handle constructive criticism or take things in a wrong way that it really wasn’t meant to be. It’s someone that knows how to balance all those dynamics of managing young kids.”

Meanwhile, Bubon will finish out his contract, expiring at the end of the school year, as a liaison at Harding.

He’s going to weigh his options, staying in education. He may coach again next season or take a year off.

“I understand what it takes to coach at the high school level,” Bubon said. “I didn’t realize just how much on a daily basis you have to deal with from freshman all the way up to seniors. I was very overwhelmed by it. Coming from college, it’s not quite as much. Kids are little bit older. At the end of the day, Warren has great kids.

“There’s good people in charge. At the end of the day, I kind of got to look out what’s best for me.”