St. Viator was tough to beat in Mike Howland's first year as the boys basketball head coach.
It will be difficult to beat the season the Lions had with a school-record 25 victories and East Suburban Catholic Conference and Class 4A regional titles. Howland was recognized for what he accomplished at his alma mater as he voted Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 3A/4A District 4 Co-Coach of the Year and was named ESCC Coach of the Year.
"Being named Coach of the Year is a wonderful honor for our entire program," said Howland in a release from the school. "No coach has ever won this award without having great players and an equally great coaching staff. This award is not just for me, but for every person on the team. We all worked hard over the last year, and this recognizes what we have accomplished together."
The Lions went 25-4 and reached the 4A sectional semifinals. They won all eight of their ESCC games for the program's first outright conference title.
Howland was a two-time Daily Herald All-Area point guard who played on Viator's 1997 ESCC co-champions and graduated in 1998. He played at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., and was an assistant for eight years under Joe Majkowski.
"In my first year, I wanted to instill my passion and excitement for the game," said Howland. "I have always loved the game of basketball; I want my players to have the same positive experience that I had growing up.
"As we look toward next year, I want to continue to build on the success we enjoyed this season. We set the bar high, and in the end, set school records. Next season, it will be about building on this momentum and reaching new heights."