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Marian roots at Bloomsburg

  • Bloomsburg assistant coach Diane Decker and volunteer assistants Chris Decker and Rachel Connely talk with the team during a timeout. All three are former basketball standouts at Marian Catholic High School.
    Bloomsburg assistant coach Diane Decker and volunteer assistants Chris Decker and Rachel Connely talk with the team during a timeout. All three are former basketball standouts at Marian Catholic High School.
Published March 06. 2013 05:03PM

The Marian boys and girls basketball programs have enjoyed much success over the years.

Since 1980, the Colts have appeared in the District 11 playoffs every year, but three, cementing themselves as one of the most consistent programs in District 11 single A.

The Fillies program needs no introduction either. Since 1974, the Fillies have appeared in the postseason every year, winning two state titles in 1984 and 2008.

The numbers do not lie and all the statistics are great, but perhaps maybe the biggest compliment to the Marian basketball programs is the success of the Bloomsburg Huskies women's basketball team this season.

Assistant Coach Diane Decker (Marian '85), volunteer assistant Chris Decker ('07), and grad assistant Rachel Connely ('08) are all part of the Huskies coaching staff this season. The Marian trio, along with head coach Bill Cleary, have steered Bloomsburg to a 22-5 record and a spot in the PSAC Championships semifinals that will take place Friday night at Nelson Field House in Bloomsburg.

With the resumés these three boast it's easy to see why the Huskies are so well coached.

The three combined for 4,682 total points for the the Fillies and Colts, with Diane Decker leading the trio with 2,377 points. Decker was a premier player to say the least, leading the Fillies to a state title in 1984. She also had a nice collegiate career as well, helping Villanova win two Big East titles in 1987 and 1988. Decker was an All-Big East second team selection in 1989, serving as the team captain in her senior campaign. Diane's nephew, Chris Decker, proved to be a supreme competitor on the hardwood as well, scoring 1,010 points in his career, helping his team to a state playoff appearance in 2006.

Rachel Connely is linked to Diane Decker by also being the best player on her respective state championship team. Connely scored 1,295 points in her career as a Fillie and helped lead them to a 2008 state title. Connely continued her career at James Madison University, graduating last year.

Assistant coach Diane Decker links her coaching success to the Coal Region area where she grew up. Decker explains the competitive nature the Coal Region instilled in her as a young athlete and the values and lessons she learned that she still uses in her coaching presently.

"I really learned the game of basketball from my coach Elsie Tolan in high school and then I played for a great "x's and o's" coach at Villanova." said Decker. "I was able to learn the game and I was fortunate to be successful and now I'm able to teach the game.

"Our area has a lot to do with it as well. We're a blue collar type of area with blue chip type attitudes. We know what hardwork is and we also don't have a lot of big city type distractions, so we really get into sports."

Chris Decker has always looked up to his Aunt Diane, following her career as a player and coach, and is grateful for the opportunity to be coaching along side one of his mentors.

"I never got the opportunity to play college basketball, but it was always something I wanted to do. A couple years ago my Aunt Diane asked me if I wanted to help out and I jumped at the opportunity," said Decker. "I wanted to try it out and see how it went mainly because I felt I didn't really give myself an opportunity to play college basketball right out of high school.

"It turns out I fell in love with it right from the moment I started coaching and everybody has been nothing but great to me. Also, to coach with my aunt has been so special. She has done countless things for me in my life. She has one of the best basketball minds I've ever come across and it's just been a great experience to learn from her over the past few seasons."

Rachel Connely arrived at Bloomsburg this season after a four-year playing stint at James Madison University. Connely wanted to pursue a career in athletic training and Bloomsburg is one of just 30 schools in the country that offer athletic training as a graduate program. Connely also wanted to be close to home and the opportunity to coach while pursuing her graduate degree was too good to pass up.

"Coaching with two other people from home is a really big deal to me," said Connely. "I've known Chris and Diane my entire life and we all have the same type of background which is nice.

"We're all on the same wavelength as well and we don't even have to say anything to eachother sometimes during a game or at practice. It's just part of where we grew up and we all have that connection."

Last night the Huskies defeated rival Kutztown in the PSAC Championship quarterfinals 81-52. They will now face the No. 18 ranked Edinboro Fighting Scots on Friday at Nelson Fieldhouse in Bloomsburg at 7:30 p.m. The Huskies defeated Edinboro 84-59 in a match-up played earlier in the season.

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