Ryan Bowen resigned as the Lely High School boys basketball coach in the middle of his fourth season Thursday. No reason was given.
Principal Leslie Ricciardelli confirmed that a change had been made, and that JV coach Fritz Jacques is the interim coach to finish the season. Ricciardelli provided no further details, citing school policy.
Bowen could not be reached for comment. He has not been on the bench since the Trojans' holiday trip to Elmira, N.Y., his hometown. The Trojans were 11-8, but 7-6 with Bowen on the bench. In a brief resignation letter, Bowen thanked Lely for the opportunity and said he planned on staying as a teacher at the school.
Bowen led the Trojans to the district championship game last season, earning the team's first trip to the state playoffs in three years. Lely finished 17-11 after going 6-16 and 5-21 in Bowen's first two seasons.
Bowen replaced legendary coach Don Stewart, who won 456 games, eight district championships and a regional title in 26 seasons. Stewart coached the Trojans to the Class 3A state title game in 1994. Bowen had been the junior varsity coach for three seasons at Golden Gate.
Lely assistant coaches John Siers and Dave Miller will remain on the staff. Jacques has added his JV assistant, Rolf Bathold, to his varsity team. He will continue to coach the JV team.
Jacques coached his first varsity game on Wednesday night as Lely downed Riverdale, 77-42.
Jacques was once a star athlete at Lely, and played football at Kent State. His JV basketball teams have been outstanding, with this year's record at 14-1.
"It went pretty well for the first time out," Jacques said of his first varsity win. "I want to thank the community for its strong support at the game last night. There were a lot of Marco and East Naples people that know me, and alumni also came out."
Jacques' teams play an up-tempo style and he substitutes freely.
"We play aggressively and put on a lot of pressure on defense," he said of his coaching style.
Almost all the varsity players have played for Jacques on his JV and summer travel teams.
"I've told them that it is an open competition for positions, knowing that certain players will be starters," he said. "If they work hard and do their job they will get more playing time. When they get on the floor they have to prove to me they deserve to be there. Our goal is to make a run in the playoffs."