CLIFTON PARK — Tony Dzikas, who led the Shenendehowa boys’ basketball program to a state championship and several area titles, announced Monday his decision to step down as the Plainsmen’s head coach.
Dzikas led the Plainsmen for 16 seasons and worked with numerous star players including current NBA player Kevin Huerter, who anchored their state Class AA title run in 2015 and helped Shenendehowa get back to the state final four in 2016. Dzikas’ final Shenendehowa team won all 15 games it played during an abbreviated 2020-21 campaign, which closed Friday with a victory in the Suburban Council championship game.
“You can work as hard as you can, and watch film and do all of the things, but if you don’t have players buying in and a good support system, it’s not going to happen,” Dzikas said. “It’s not all about me.”
Dzikas certainly played a huge role for the Plainsmen, who went nearly 20 years without a Section II title until that drought ended in 2015. The Plainsmen, who were known for their sharing of the ball and a 3-2 zone defense under Dzikas, won another area flag the next year and garnered two more in 2018 and 2020.
“I didn’t want to let down a school that gave me a golden opportunity,” the 50-year-old Dzikas said.
“Tony’s been an outstanding coach,” Shenendehowa athletic director Chris Culnan said. “It’s been a pleasure to work with him.”
The fifth-grade Tesago Elementary School teacher coached his final game with Shenendehowa Friday night. That victory against Troy finished off a run at Shenendehowa for Dzikas that saw the Plainsmen compile a 223-37 mark during Suburban Council play.
“High school coaching is the best, but it’s time-consuming. It takes energy,” Dzikas said. “You’re dealing with college coaches. Teenagers. There are lots of different components and aspects to it. I had a great run, but I just felt it was time. I was ready.”
That great run included Suburban Council winning streaks of 48 games (2008-11) and 55 games (2014-17), and 10 league regular-season championships.
“The players we had were ridiculous,” Dzikas said. “I feel fortunate to have had so many great players.”
Among the seniors on his final team were his son Devin, who will continue his basketball career at Suffolk University and play for former Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake star Jeff Juron.
“My son will be playing college ball and I want to be the best fan I possibly can,” Tony Dzikas said. “That’s certainly a little bit of it.”
Culnan doesn’t expect the basketball success to end with the departure of Dzikas, who in 2015 and 2016 was named the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Class AA Coach of the Year, and in 2015, was tabbed the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Basketball Coach of the Year.
“I think one of the things I really appreciate about the coaches at Shenendehowa, especially the veteran ones, is they have such a sense of tradition within our programs,” Culnan said. “They want to make sure that when they step away the programs remain strong and in good shape.”
Culnan anticipates plenty of interest in the Shenendehowa varsity coaching job.