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Prior to Lone Tree basketball games they boast about an important anniversary for their boys basketball coach.
The start of the 2017-2018 basketball season marked the 30th year with Tom Squiers as the head of the Lone Tree’s boys basketball program.
The milestone marked this year is one that gradually snuck up on Squiers and when he looks back at the coach he was when he started three decades ago, his style with the kids more so than his style of play is what he feels has evolved.
“I was a lot more of a yeller, I was maybe a bit harder on kids than I am now,” he said. “I am more of a talk-through-it type coach than I was 30 years ago.”
“Plus I think the players have changed. I think they’re a lot more skilled than they were 30 years ago. They have more opportunities to work on their games through AAU and team camps and individual camps.”
Squiers is also thankful for the fact that he inherited a program that already had a positive structure, saying he walked in to a pretty good basketball tradition 30 years ago. Just two years prior to him becoming the head coach Lone Tree won a state title in 1985.
“We don’t achieve the success we’ve had the last 30 years without some good players. I’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had kids that love basketball and have put in the time,” he said. “And we’ve been able to win quite a few basketball games because of that, as well as very supportive parents and a supportive community.”
Squiers has coached Lone Tree to the state tournament three times: a quarterfinals appearance in 1996, a fourth place finish in 2007 and a quarterfinals appearance in 2013.
Among all his accomplishments, the state tournament teams, the 400-plus wins, what he is most thankful for was the opportunity to coach his son Jovonte.
“I love my state tournament teams, don’t get me wrong. It was a great experience, but the greatest enjoyment I’ve had is coaching my son for four years,” Squiers said. “You don’t get a lot of opportunity to do that as a coach and I was fortunate that Jovonte also played at a high level.”
Things have now come full-circle concerning the junior Squiers, who has taken a place on the bench in a tie rather than a jersey with his father.
“He’s got a great knowledge of the game of basketball. He probably knows more about basketball than I do. He’s been around the game since he was 3-years old. He’s always been a gym rat,” Squiers said.Longevity among boys basketball coaches in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference is not unique to Squiers, as both Dwight Gingerich at Iowa Mennonite and Ken Spielbauer at Wapello previously eclipsed the mark.
Squiers said that’s something that really speaks to the quality of the conference because you have to go the extra step when preparing mentally and strategically to match up against coaches with that much experience. Squiers knows that those teams are going to be fundamentally sound, even within the dips that come along with a high school program and there’s a certain respect that comes along with that.
“You have to prepare just a little bit more because you’re just not going to trick those guys,” he said, acknowledging it worked the same way for him.
“There’s not a lot of things people can throw at me after 30 years that I haven’t seen.”
Squiers went on to say that among the programs in the conference, there’s another coach who’s building up a program that he thinks could be set up for a similar period of success long term.
“I think Marcus Hall’s done a really great job at Highland, just because he’s given them some longevity there,” Squiers said.
“He’s come in and established some tradition and …some consistency. It’s just made them such a good basketball program the last few years.”
That competitiveness, night in and night out from quality programs is what keeps things exciting for Squiers the last 30 years and the years yet to come.
“Every night it’s always been a war and it’s been fun the last 30 years competing with these guys.”