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Boiling Springs Pat Dieter's, center, longtime assistant coach Joel Martin will take over the Bubblers during the 2019-20 season. It will be the first time in 37 years Dieter is not roaming the sidelines.

Boiling Springs boys basketball will maintain some continuity during what will likely be a tough first season without longtime head coach Pat Dieter.

Joel Martin, Dieter’s longtime assistant, was approved Monday night during the South Middleton school board meeting to replace Dieter, who died in February the night of the Bubblers’ final game of the season.

Martin worked with Dieter for most of the 36 years Dieter led the Bubblers.

Martin said Tuesday afternoon it is an “honor” to succeed Dieter, and important to provide continuity in the program. But it has not been an easy transition.

“It’s been tough to be honest,” Martin said. “As much as I’m looking forward to coaching again, I’d much rather be coaching with Pat.”

Martin’s senior year as a varsity player was Dieter’s first as a head coach. After four years at Shippensburg University, Martin joined Dieter’s staff.

He stayed there for eight years before chasing his own head-coaching path.

In the mid-1990s, he led Newport for three years (record: 20-47), then took over at Big Spring from 1998-2007. Shortly after that he returned as an assistant with Dieter, where he’s remained ever since.

Martin, whose son Trey is on the team, said he didn’t envision ever leading the Bubblers.

“[Dieter] was going for 40 years,” Martin said. “I thought we would go out together.”

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But the thought of replacing Dieter wasn’t what made Martin take pause when considering the job — it was whether or not to coach his son.

“From one perspective it was very easy [to apply],” Martin said. “From another perspective it was a little bit tougher because my son’s in the program.”

Ultimately, his family supported the decision and Martin decided to apply.

Dieter’s sudden death sent shockwaves throughout the program, school and surrounding communities. Martin will at least provide some stability as the players continue their grieving process.

He has led offseason practices on an interim basis, so there will be minimal transition needed. Martin also said the existing coaching staff is returning, an important factor for him. And there will be only a smattering of schematic changes, considering he and Dieter saw many basketball X’s and O’s similarly.

“Obviously after being a head coach for 12 years … there’s some things I missed being a head coach. There’s some things I didn’t miss being a head coach,” he said with a laugh.

Next year will be the Bubblers’ first playing on what is likely to be the freshly named “Coach Dieter Court.”

“We’re trying to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said Martin, who said he and Dieter collaborated on scheme and coaching decisions often. “It’s going to be an emotional couple of nights.”

The Bubblers went 9-13 in 2018-19 and made the District 3 Class 4A tournament, losing to Octorara 76-60 in the first round. They graduate nearly half a dozen seniors in a few weeks. But they return current-junior forward/center Gavin Donley (11.6 ppg) and a top reserve in Trey Martin (7.8 ppg).

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Email Jake Adams at jadams@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520

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Sports Editor

Sports editor at The Sentinel.