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Nesser gets basketball post at Hempfield

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By Keith Barnes
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Hempfield Area School Board hired former Jeannette coach Jim Nesser as the school's new boys basketball coach early Tuesday morning.

The vote was announced at the board meeting at 12:25 a.m. after members met in a closed-door session for an hour and 35 minutes.

"Jim's experience will help take this program to another level," Hempfield athletic director Greg Meisner said. "I think he is a disciplined coach and he commands respect, is respected throughout the WPIAL, and we are happy to get him."

Nesser was one of two finalists for the job, including Plum High School assistant coach Mark Murphy. Nesser is the second high-profile Jeannette coach to leave the school in the past several months. Football coach Ray Reitz was hired by Latrobe at the end of the 2008 season. Reitz and Nesser won PIAA championships during the 2007-08 school year.

Nesser replaces Bill Swan, who was fired last month in a 5-4 vote after eight years on the Hempfield bench. Nesser, who dresses in black for every game, took over a perennial playoff contender when he was hired by Jeannette from Elizabeth Forward to replace Rick Klimchock on July 24, 2006. He guided Jeannette to three consecutive WPIAL Class AA championship games. With a pair of future Ohio State football players in the starting lineup — Terrelle Pryor and Jordan Hall — Nesser helped Jeannette to the school's first WPIAL and PIAA Class AA titles in 2008.

In his three years with the Jayhawks, Nesser's teams finished 72-14, including a 19-4 postseason record. Last season under Swan's direction, Hempfield rebounded from a slow start to win its final eight regular-season games and finish second behind Latrobe in Section 1. Hempfield qualified for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.

Hempfield has not won a postseason contest — a span of five games — since beating Plum, 52-46, on Feb. 22, 2003, in the second round of the WPIAL playoffs.

Swan, known for showing his emotions during games, was 116-74 at Hempfield and will be an assistant coach at Greensburg Central Catholic next season.

Although he was fired as the school's basketball coach, Swan retained his teaching position within the district.

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