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Golf pro ready to take reins of Greensburg Salem boys basketball team

| Friday, July 13, 2012, 12:19 a.m.
Tribune-Review
Craig Mankins has been named the new boys basketball coach at Greensburg Salem High School. Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review

Greensburg Salem's new boys basketball coach, Craig Mankins, might be an unknown to some people around the city, but the Hannastown Golf Club director of golf knows the game.

Mankins, 36, has been eager to get back to coaching since he came to Greensburg in 2009.

He was hired last month by the Greensburg Salem school board to replace veteran coach Paul Sapotichne, who resigned after the 2011-12 season.

Sapotichne spent 29 seasons at Greensburg Salem, where he compiled a 399-306 record and finished with a 427-343 career mark. Sapotichne was the 2009 Class AAA Pennsylvania coach of the year after guiding the Golden Lions to the PIAA title game.

Mankins played high school basketball at Malvern, Ohio, located near Canton. After graduation in 1994, he attended Indiana (Pa.) University and was an NCAA Division II golf All-American and Academic All-American.

Mankins coached three years at Penns Manor High School in Clymer, Indiana County, from 2002-06 and compiled a 48-34 record. He helped turn the program around and got Clymer into the PIAA playoffs after a 14-year drought. He also was an assistant girls coach at Elderton (2001) and assistant boys coach at Indiana (2005-10).

He left Penns Manor for family obligations and took a new job at Punxsutawney Country Club.

“I wish I could have stayed at Penns Manor,” Mankins said. “We took a team to the playoffs which weren't supposed to be very good. But we were starting a family and coaching takes up a lot of time.”

Mankins' wife, Lisa (Zelenak), was also coaching at Indiana, so being an assistant coach was better for his future. He and his wife have three children: Jeffrey (10), Abby (8) and Kaitlyn (6).

“When Paul resigned, I decided to throw my name in the hat,” Mankins said. “I was helping in the Greensburg Salem elementary program and I knew it was time.

“I like to play man-to-man just like Coach Paul and Coach Chris (Neurohr). I'd like to be a run-and-jump squad, but I'll adapt to the talent. I'm familiar with section, and I believe we can compete for the title.”

Mankins plans to sit down with Sapotichne to talk about the players and then will meet with the players to get the offseason program going. He also hopes to hire assistant coaches soon.

His wife, a former basketball standout at St. Vincent, now teaches at Greensburg Salem Middle School.

“I'm sure she'll be my biggest critique,” Mankins said about his wife. “I'm eager to get started.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at pschofield@tribweb.com or 724-836-5095.

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