Shane Bautch

Shane Bautch, giving instructions to Elliot Ruff in 2004, led BMHS to two state tournament appearances.

BELOIT—Shane Bautch believes he has an advantage facing the challenge of turning around Beloit Memorial’s boys basketball fortunes.

He’s done this before.

Bautch was 30 years old and already a successful high school coach when he was first hired to guide the 2000-01 Purple Knights. When he resigned for personal reasons after four seasons he had earned Beloit Daily News All-Area Coach of the Year three years running and led Beloit to back-to-back WIAA state tournament berths.

Now Bautch is back. The School District of Beloit announced Monday night he has been hired as head coach. He succeeds Dondre Bell, who coached the Knights for two seasons before being caught up in the school’s policy change which no longer allows hourly staff members to fulfill coaching assignments due to the overtime rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Bautch is the fourth coach Beloit has had since 2017 when Jay Bryant retired after a 15-9 season, including 11-7 in the Big Eight. Tim Richert coached a 6-17 2017-18 season, followed by Bell, who went 7-38 overall in two seasons, including 6-13 in the Big Eight. Last season, the Knights were 4-14 in conference and 4-18 overall.

Bautch understands he has his work cut out for him.

“The time was right for me to get back in,” said Bautch who is a Seminar Teacher with the Freshmen Academy in the District. “I’ve tried to make coaching decisions prioritizing my family. That’s why I haven’t coached straight through the past 20 years. I’ve sort of picked and choosed. The way I approach this job, I have to be all-in and with my son now 9 he can benefit from what dad does, which is coach.

“I don’t know how we handle where the program is, but I will tell you I have always had a real sense of pride in the history of this team,” Bautch said. “When I was head coach the first time that was always first in my thoughts. I wanted to uphold the proud tradition of this program.”

He said he’s optimistic because of the coaching staff he plans on putting in place. While he can’t name names yet, he said the hires will be former Knights he has strong ties to.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is the staff I’m putting together,” he said. “I’ll call them the Knights-men. They’re going to be former Purple Knights who played for me at a high level and had success on and off the court. They are gentlemen with very high character who will be part of bringing my message to the kids.

“These guys are in, but they aren’t officially in, so I’ll have to hold off naming them for now. Believe me they will be coaches who the kids can look up to and aspire to be.”

It took Bautch only one season to revamp the Knights his first go-around. By his second season, despite having talented starter Lamarr Farr transfer to Turner, Bautch and 6-foot-8 Menelik Barbary led Beloit to a 9-7 mark in the Big Eight and 13-9 overall. Farr helped Turner go 22-2, sharing All-Are Player of the Year honors with Barbary.

Under Bautch, the Knights displayed a new-found tenacity on defense and he matched his offensive philosophy with his available talent.

Beloit came back with a young squad in 2002-03 and went 16-7, winning a regional title with Bautch earning his first Coach of the Year award. Junior Kyle Weaver was the biggest piece of that puzzle, but the Knights also had two talented sophomores (Elliot Ruff and Collin Tubbs) to add to an athletic freshman (Anthony Green) and steady seniors Jamir Crowley and Harvey Fleming.

Weaver’s senior year was Bautch’s best team, going 20-5 with three of those losses to Big Eight champion and state runnerup Madison Memorial. The third stung the most. Beloit fell to the Spartans in a WIAA state quarterfinal, 59-55, in overtime. Weaver, who had missed five games due to ankle and back injuries still wasn’t 100 percent. He still had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the game and earned All-State honors.

Green, who had 22 points in the quarterfinal, joined Weaver on the All-Area First Team. Jermaine Lofton landed on the Second Team and Jon Henning earned Honorable Mention.

While Weaver went on to star at Washington State, the Knights tried to pick up where they left off. Bautch’s quickly rebuilt team, led by All-Area First Teamers Green and Marquel Hoskins, won 17 games and returned to the state tournament as Parker Sectional champions. Beloit started just 3-4, but won 11-of-13 down the stretch before losing a 48-47 heartbreaker to Milwaukee Pius in a state quarterfinal.

The Knights appeared to be poised for another big year. But All-State candidate Green left the program to attend a college prep school in California and two others also transferred. The biggest loss, however, the head coach. Bautch resigned when he learned his father had leukemia and was in need of his help.

Beloit still finished 12-9 under interim coach Mike Duenser and a year later Bryant was hired and more success soon followed over the next decade. The past three years, though, have produced a 13-55 mark and a lot of questions Bautch hopes to have the answers for.