Cessario has high hopes for SHS hoops

SOUTHINGTON — Former East Windsor head coach, entrepreneur and Joe Reilly disciple John Cessario has been named head coach of the Southington High boys basketball team.

The Southington resident was selected by a search committee and approved at the last school board meeting.

“He had a lot of success [at East Windsor] the last couple of years,” Southington athletic director Eric Swallow said Wednesday. “He impressed the committee and now has the opportunity to move the program forward as head coach.”

Southington went 1-19 last year, winning the second game of the season against Masuk before losing the next 18.

Head coach Bob Lasbury stepped down for family reasons after 14 years in early April. Cessario is “chomping at the bit” to get started on a reversal.

“I’ve consistently preached whether it’s a turnover, a missed shot or a 20-loss season, to look back is futile,” Cessario said Wednesday. “Time is undefeated. You can’t look back and wish something different happened. We have to have the kids learn about the next play, whether it’s basketball or life.”

Cessario, 42, founder and head chef for Gio Foods, graduated from South Catholic-Hartford in 1990, where he played basketball for the legendary Reilly. He served as an assistant with Reilly’s son Luke at East Catholic before taking the East Windsor job prior to the 2007-08 season.

At East Windsor, Cessario (53-95, 7 years) gradually built the program after two winless seasons and 47 straight defeats.

Last year, the Panthers won their first North Central Connecticut Conference regular-season title and first post-season tournament, earning the top seed in Class S. They lost to Valley Regional-Deep River by nine points in the quarterfinals, finishing at 23-2.

“To go 0-47, the rides from East Windsor to Southington were long, but I would always find silver linings I could share with the kids,” he said.

Cessario, using a page from Joe Reilly’s book, stresses defense.

“It’s foundational,” said Cessario, who had just returned from a summer league game. “With defense comes the ability to keep teams from scoring. Defending and rebounding gives you life if you have tough shooting night.”

Cessario is in the final stages of filling out the rest of his coaching staff. Swallow is loving what he sees.

“He’s excited,” Swallow said.

“He’s tried to reach out to the basketball community and establish himself. He has great expectations.”



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