Grand Valley coach headed for Front Range
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PARACHUTE, Colorado ” A 121-64 overall record. Three state tournament appearances. One state title.
Scott Kiburis enjoyed quite the eight-year run as Grand Valley’s head boys basketball coach.
Although that second state tourney produced the state championship, it’s the third he’s especially proud of as he leaves Grand Valley to take over the boys basketball program at Elizabeth.
“For me this year, it was a big thrill getting through the district tournament undefeated (in the 2A Western Slope League),” he said of the 2007-08 season, his last as a Cardinal. “That was big making it to the state tournament.”
That’s because Grand Valley had five seniors to replace from the previous season’s state-title winning team. Kiburis and the Cards still pieced together a 21-5 record.
Of course, that Class 2A state title holds high regard in the veteran coach’s heart.
“We had a couple of upsets. That was a thrill, winning the state tournament,” Kiburis said. “We just played perfect. That was definitely a highlight.”
The innumerable highlights his teams have racked up the last eight years make it tough for Kiburis to abandon his post at Grand Valley. The move to Elizabeth, a Class 4A school just south of the Denver metro area, is one rooted in family interest.
“It’s kind of a family move,” said Kiburis, a California native. “I guess our lifestyle is a little more Front Range-ish. It’s more of what I grew up in. It’s not a negative thing at all. It was kind of in the family plans that it’d happen at some point.”
Both Kiburis and his wife, Kyla, are taking teaching jobs in Elizabeth School District.
Scott will teach high school social studies, the same job he has at Grand Valley, and Kyla will teach fifth grade. She’s currently a teacher at Rifle Middle School.
The couple has two young children ” Jackson, 7, and Will, 3 ” making now an opportune time for a family move.
At Elizabeth, Kiburis is making a leap to Class 4A and taking over a team with a familiar nickname ” the Cardinals. He’ll also be working for a Western Slope expatriate in Elizabeth athletic director and head football coach Chris Cline, who used to be Rifle High School’s AD (1996-2000) and coached football there under Darrel Gorham for several seasons.
In Kiburis, Cline sees a program builder who will bring stability to a boys basketball team that’s seen five coaches in seven years.
“I think he brings two facets that we’re really looking for,” Cline said. “He’s someone who’s still young and passionate about the game. He’s very progressive about how he runs his offense and defense, and he’s kid-oriented. He’s someone with winning experience who’s built programs from the ground up and that’s what we need.”
Kiburis arrived on the scene in Grand Valley in 2000 after a head coaching stint at Meeker. Under his direction, the Cardinals made regionals five times and state three times.
A self-described offensive-minded coach, it was Kiburis’ installation of the dribble-drive motion offense that helped the Cardinals to the state title in 2007.
DDM, most notably employed by John Calipari at the University of Memphis, is a high points-yielding offensive attack that features four perimeter players, centers on dribble penetration and relegates the post player to the weak side of the lane, creating space for said penetration. As he barrels toward the basket, the penetrator decides whether to kick the ball out to a perimeter player for an open 3, dish to the post for an easy bucket or drop in a layup off the glass.
The end result: layups and 3-pointers en masse.
Kiburis is planning on taking that progressive offense with him to Elizabeth.
“We’ll try to run our same stuff,” he said. “It’ll take time. We’ll put it in and go from there. It’ll be interesting to see how it works against bigger schools.”
As far as Grand Valley is concerned, Kiburis relished the small oil and gas-driven community’s all-out obsession for sports. An obsession that resulted in a parade for his state-title winning Cardinals in 2007 upon their return from the state tourney in Pueblo.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be somewhere else where they appreciate the state championships like that,” he said. “I don’t think we’d be treated that well anywhere. Just going to the grocery store and talking to people, you get phone calls from people in the community. You don’t get that other places. It’s really nice. The coaches enjoyed it and the players enjoyed it. It’s that small-town atmosphere.”
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