MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Mike Fallon’s absence from the sidelines at Parkersburg South lasted just one season. The veteran head coach has returned to lead the Patriot basketball program that has the longest state tournament appearance streak in Class AAA.
After the 2018-2019 season concluded, Fallon stepped away after a successful nine-year tenure. The last seven of those seasons resulted in regional titles.
“When I lost my brother (James) and we lost our scorekeeper Keith Barker, and we had some tough losses throughout the year, everything was going the wrong way. I was kind of mad at the world and didn’t know how to deal with it.” Fallon said.
“I went to an Emmaus walk for church and it kind of changed my life. It was the same time as regional week (in March). Normally, I wouldn’t have even thought about going to that. I think God put me in that place for a reason and it changed me life forever. It is crazy how things work.”
Brett Rector resigned after one season leading the Patriots. He has returned to the University of Charleston as an assistant coach for the Golden Eagles.
“Missing the kids was one of the toughest things going through the year. Without being around the players, that was tough.
“Coach (Brett) Rector did a great job with those kids and established a lot of things with them. And there are some things I want to continue that he did. It has been a smooth transition and I feel like we have a chance to be really, really good again.”
The Patriots averaged 17 wins per season in Fallon’s first run leading the Southsiders. PSHS advanced to the state championship game in 2015.
“We have always had to do things together and as a team. That is the only way we can compete with some of these teams. The biggest thing is our kids have always bought in and been a part of our program that they want to keep the tradition going. It almost seems like it is an expectation every year now to get to Charleston, and eventually win a ring.”
Fallon must replace a graduating senior class of eight players, including first-team all-state selection Malaki Sylvia.
“Malaki is a great kid. He has lived in the gym. He works hard at everything he does. I am very proud of him. Marietta is right here across the river so I will be able to watch him play in college.
“I really like this group. I think by the end of the year we will be pretty good. We’re not going to be very big. We’ll be a smaller team but we will be really athletic. We’ll be able to get after some people.”
Fallon’s son Seth last played for the Patriots in 2019 and appeared in 28 games for Glenville State as a freshman this past winter, averaging nearly twenty minutes a contest.
“That’s one of the hardest things to do is to coach your own son. It was tough on him and it was tough on me.
“It was a good year for him and I really like Coach (Justin) Caldwell. He does a great job with those kids. I think the biggest thing is getting your degree and finishing out. When he is there, I don’t have to worry about Seth.”
Fallon now faces the prospect of putting the pieces of his roster together with a shortened offseason due to the pandemic.
“We had a Zoom meeting the other night and I told them we are going to have to do workouts without weights.
“If you have a basketball laying around the house, you may not be able to shoot the basketball but you can do some ball handling, you can do some other things that maybe in some sports you wouldn’t be able to do.”