PAOLA — After 30 years on the court, Paola Panther basketball coach David Cash announced his plans to retire.
Cash spent 27 years with the Paola Panther basketball program, including 25 as head coach. He was an assistant coach at Wellsville for three years before joining the Panthers.
When he arrived, he was an assistant coach with Dennis Darting, guiding the Paola Panthers to the Class 4A state title during the 1994-95 season.
The Paola Panthers placed fourth in the state during the 2016-17 season, losing to Andover Central by 11-points, 81-70, in the third-place game and eventual state champion Bishop Miege by six points, 62-56, in the semifinals.
Paola defeated El Dorado, 72-57, to hoist the Class 4A third-place state trophy during the 2013-14 campaign. The Panthers suffered another heartbreaker in the semifinals that season, falling to McPherson in overtime by three points, 59-56.
“We have had some great kids in our program,” Cash said. “We have great kids from great families. We have great support from our administration, great community support and great support from the parents. The great thing about coaching at Paola is we have some very dedicated kids.
“I will miss the kids the most,” Cash said. “I have been blessed with some great assistant coaches like Tommy Morris, Ryan Oshel and Michael Dumpert, who coached junior varsity with me for many years. Not only are they colleagues of mine, they are good friends.
“Stan Plummer, Steve Gorsuch and Dumpert took me under their wings when I first got here,” he said. “They have always been very supportive of me.”
Coach Cash said, like all coaches, owes a debt of gratitude to his wife Niki, and son Brennan Haley, who have supported him.
When coach Cash arrived in Paola the saying was “play hard, smart, and together.” He kept that tradition alive not only during the games where the Panthers competed, but away from the spotlight when the games are really won and lost, in the summer conditioning and in practice.
No matter when someone came by a Paola boys practice, they were going to see a group of kids not only working hard, but pulling in the same direction. The effort was going to be the same whether Paola was 10-0 or 0-10.
“You knew the kids were going to battle and play hard,” Cash said. “We have had a lot of great basketball families come through the program with brothers playing like the Robisons, the Wilsons and the Osborns and on and on.
“It is fun to see the kids when they come back and are successful, raising great families of their own now, “It was always a family deal here in Paola,” he said. “We have a great Paola Panther basketball family here and a lot of people are part of that, players, coaches, family, friends. That is the Paola way.”