Marquette coach Steve Medford and Centralia’s Lee Bennett in Bloomington at the 42nd annual Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame induction April 26.
Two successful area basketball coaches were honored April 26 at the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame banquet in Bloomington.
Marquette Catholic hAead coach Steve Medford was named District 12 Co-Coach of the Year and former Alton High School head coach Lee Bennett was inducted into the IBCA Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, as well as being named District 20’s co-coach of the year at the organization’s 42nd annual induction ceremony at Illinois State.
Though Bennett left the River Bend in 2008 to become the head coach and athletic director at Centralia High School, both Medford and Bennett are longtime friends.
”What was great about the whole event was being awarded alongside Lee Bennett; a guy I had coached with who was a phenomenal coach at Alton High,” Medford said. “Lee is one of my best friends and he’s been a great mentor to me.”
Bennett coached the Redbirds for four years, having Medford as an assistant at Alton for three of them. After Bennett left, his younger brother, Lane, took over as coach and Medford served as an assistant for him as well for three years.
Bennett’s career record consists of 441 wins and 173 losses, with nine regional championships, two sectional championships, as well as coaching a state runner-up team in 2011 and being named IBCA coach of the year five times.
This is the third time Medford’s been awarded coach of the year by the IBCA in his four-year career with the Explorers basketball program. However, he says the award has a lot to say about the athletes at Marquette and how hard they work.
In his four years coaching the Explorers, Medford won 25 games his first year, 28 his second and 21 his third.
Medford’s team went 22-7 this season, coaching AdVantage News’ Basketball Player of the Year and Division I signee Deion Lavender all the way through his prep career in Alton.
“I learned so much from Coach Medford while at Marquette; he has a great basketball IQ,” Lavender said. “He helped me to grow every year I played and I’ll miss having him around in college.”
Medford graduated from Jersey High School in 1997. During his prep career he was a successful point guard for the Panthers, leading his team to a regional championship game against Belleville East his senior year, then taking his talents to Lindenwood University for four years.
After college, Medford became an assistant at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey. There he began a coaching career that could turn out to be as successful as his good friend and colleague Bennett, possibly leading to a future hall of fame induction of his own.