A new era has begun in Mainland Regional High School basketball.
Head coaching vacancies for the boys and girls teams were filled this week. Dan Williams will be the new boys coach and Scott Betson takes over the girls team.
Both new coaches are very familiar with Mustangs basketball.
Williams, who lives in Northfield, led the Mustangs to two Cape-Atlantic League championships as a player in the late 1980s.
He returned to his alma mater as a special education teacher 10 years ago and has been a fixture among the Mustangs basketball community.
He served as an assistant for the boys basketball team from 2005-2009 under then coach Jon Evans. Williams then switched sides and spent the past three years as an assistant for the girls team. He replaces Tom McKeever, who compiled a 16-55 record in three seasons.
"I've been about as into Mainland basketball as you can get," Williams said Tuesday. "I've wanted to do this for quite some time. The time was right."
Betson, a 2003 Absegami graduate and four-year varsity basketball player, volunteered as an assistant for the Mainland girls team after graduating fromm the University of Florida. He then served as freshman coach and paid varsity assistant under Sue Repetti, who resigned in late March after leading Mainland to a 58-62 record in five seasons.
Betson, who lives in Egg Harbor Township and also teaches at Mainland, was on the sidelines this winter as the Mustangs went 15-11 and qualified for the South Jersey Group IV playoffs.
"I have always loved basketball and I've found over the last couple of years that I really love coaching girls basketball," Betson said. "There was no way I could pass up an opportunity as good as this one."
The Mainland girls return some quality players next winter, including leading scorer Alex Raring. Raring averaged 12 points and is one of the Cape-Atlantic League's most underrated players.
However, Mainland loses five seniors from its lineup.
"I feel like I'm in a fortunate position. It's not like the program is left in some disarray that needs to be fixed," Betson said. "Oviously, I'm looking to build on (the success)."
The boys haven't been as fortunate. Mainland has struggled in recent years and went 8-18 this season.
Williams hopes to bring the excitement he once had as a Mainland player to his new role as coach.
"Hopefully, the guys will be able to sense how I'm into Mainland getting back to its years where it's been challenging other teams in the league as a contender," he said.
Mainland athletic director Mike Gatley is excited about the new coaches' local roots.
"I think there's an energy and a vision of connection between the three towns that feed into Mainland (Linwood, Northfield and Somers Point)," Gatley said. "To me, the key is our feeder programs and getting our kids excited about basketball."
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