Direct Rays: 350 Wins & Counting for Croton’s Classy Coach Thom

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Croton-Harmon High boys’ hoops Coach Bill Thom’s longevity may play a part in his having recorded the 350th win of his career last Saturday night at the 6th annual Putnam Challenge, but it’s a bit part, a sliver of his coaching legacy along the Croton-Harmon shoreline. When you average nearly 13 wins per season in Section 1 basketball over a career that spans three decades, you’re doing more than just hanging around; you’re teaching and developing some of the soundest players on the Class B hoops circuit. Thom, always a top-notch dresser, epitomizes the class and dignity behind the Tigers’ fundamentally-sound program, which was on display during a 69-46 romp of Pawling. His son, selfless senior Ian Thom (the career assists leader at Croton), paced the Croton attack with 23 points, six rebounds and eight assists to earn MVP honors.

Ray Gallagher
Ray Gallagher

Not a bad way to secure No.350, eh?

“I have lots of fond memories over the years, and this would be one of them” said Thom, a 1978 Croton grad with an overall record of 350–220 (.614 winning percentage). “The most important aspect has been the relationships with our players, the opposing coaches, officials, fans, and last but not least the media. I have been fortunate that my wife is a basketball nut and has been incredibly supportive. I got into this profession to teach and work with young adults and hopefully have a positive impact on them. I would not trade this experience for any other.”

Thom has always been there for Section 1 hoops; serving as a mentor on the Empire State Games scene and a key Hudson Valley member of the BCANY. He goes the extra mile every year, and not only for Croton; so it was nice to see the Cold Spring, NY resident achieve yet another milestone in a career dotted with Final 4 and County Center championship appearances. I can’t recall a season in which his Croton club hadn’t vastly improved between December and March.

“He’s a guy that has changed with the times, and not stayed in the past,” said Saunders Coach Anthony Nicodemo, who cut his teeth under Thom as an assistant in the ’90s. “Having worked with him the last two summers (Hudson Valley BCANY Summer Hoops Festival), it amazes me how much he has improved as a coach in the past 10 years. He is constantly looking to improve his craft and has done so successfully. I am still proud to say that I worked under him and take much of his knowledge to my team every day.”

It’s tough to root against a guy who gives us his all year after year, and for 25 of his 28 years, I’ve personally witnessed a class act each and every season. There’s a lot of basketball left in the 52-year-old, salt-of-the-earth ball coach, and many of those that leave him go on to coach, including Bill Thom Jr., a 2007 Croton graduate, who was named the Director of Operations for the men’s basketball team at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C. (Former Croton players currently coaching include: Billy Thom, Davidson College; Brian Senior, Bronxville; Joe Streany, Asst. Croton; Brendan Coxen, Briarcliff; Greg Muller, Asst. Briarcliff; Jim Higgins, Asst. Croton).

Bill Thom Jr. started out as a student manager for the Davidson team during his freshman year at Davidson, the year current Golden State Warrior guard Stephen Curry shaped a legacy that led to an All-Star career and helped lead the underdog Wildcats to the NCAA Elite 8 when Thom was “His Guy”.

“I just couldn’t ask for a better role model than my dad,” Thom once said.

Coach Thom and I have a running joke about me being the Kiss of Death; oftentimes because I show up at the County Center where he has yet to win the big one. But the joke is on those who don’t fully comprehend what he means to Section 1 basketball and the ballers club over which he presides.

Coach Thom has always been very organized and very consistent in his methods,” said Higgins, who played for Thom from 1998-2000 and has been around the program for nearly two decades as a younger sibling of Dan (92 – ’94) and Tom Higgins (’94 – ’96), in addition to his current status as an assistant on Thom’s staff. “His practices and game plans are planned out to a “T”. He has a very nice balance of being both a player’s coach and a coach’s coach, and that is why he is so well respected; not only among Section 1 high school basketball, but amongst the US basketball community.”





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