ADAMS TWP — Less than 12 hours after the Mars boys basketball team had its season end at the hand of Girard in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs, key members of the Planets were back on the court.
They were at a basketball camp, working with youngsters in the Mars school district.
Planets’ coach Rob Carmody received a text message early that morning from senior Garrett Ashbaugh and fired one back asking him why he was there so early.
“Coach,” Ashbaugh wrote, “it’s time to get back.”
“My plan was to sulk all day,” Carmody said. “But these guys showed me how unselfish they were. I don’t think I could be more proud.”
Ashbaugh was one of eight seniors on the Mars roster this season. Those seniors won 57 games in three years, took the Planets to their first PIAA playoff appearance last year and got them there again this season.
They also got to the WPIAL quarterfinals as juniors and the semifinals this season as seniors.
Leading the way was Carmody, who found a way to mesh all that talent together and get the most out of it.
For that, Carmody was named the 2012-13 Butler Eagle Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. It was the second straight year Carmody earned that honor.
Others considered were Seneca Valley’s Victor Giannotta and A-C Valley’s Jim Marron.
“Anything like this is a reflection on the kids,” Carmody said of the award.
Carmody also said an award should be handed out to the families of coaches.
His wife, Stephanie and their three children — boys Robbie, 13, and Michael, 11, and daughter Mackenzie, 9, saw Carmody little during the long basketball season.
“They are so supportive,” Carmody said. “You miss the things they are doing, but they are there rooting for you. I think my kids took losing in the WPIAL and state worse than I did.”
Carmody has been the coach at Mars for 15 seasons.
Building the program has been a long and arduous process, but it began paying dividends three seasons ago.
That group went 18-5, but lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.
The Planets were 18-8 last season and 21-5 this year, including a 12-0 mark in the section for their first section title since 1987.
“When these guys were back in the eighth grade, we kind of, as a staff, felt like these kids get it,” Carmody said.
“We knew they had a chance.”
The challenge now will be replacing the eight seniors who have lifted the program up another rung on the ladder.
That may not be as difficult for Carmody as one might think.
The freshman team was 21-1 this season. The eighth-grade team had an excellent season and the seventh-grade team was also 21-1.
“This has really become a place where there is a basketball culture,” Carmody said. “Those (seniors) were such great role models. There’s a nice foundation.”