Northland Pines varsity boys basketball head coach Troy Pieper has resigned from the program after three years and an overall record of 24-34.

Activities Director Brian Margelofsky made the an­nouncement last week, noting Pieper has accepted the varsity boys basketball head coaching job at Wausau East High School in the Wisconsin Valley Conference.

The Eagles improved all three years under Pieper’s guidance, finishing 6-17 in 2016-’17, 7-15 in 2017-’18 and 11-12 in 2018-’19. Pines also won a WIAA Regional playoff game this past season. In the Great Northern Conference (GNC), the Eagles were 0-12 in 2016-’17, 1-11 in 2017-’18 and 4-8 in 2018-’19. 

Pieper said the future is very bright for the Northland Pines boys basketball program.

“The numbers are high, the excitement is high, the belief is there and it doesn’t hurt that they have the best player in the GNC coming back in (Ryan) Peterson,” said Pieper. “There is a lot of talent coming up from the youth level, and so much leadership returning I expect great things from Pines and trust me, I will be keeping in touch with the fellas, and will be watching the scores.”

Pieper said his decision to accept the offer to become the Wausau East head coach wasn’t an easy decision.

“It took a lot thought, a lot of conversations with my wife and kids and close friends, but in the end it really is what’s best for me and my family at this time,” he said.

“While I’m sad that my Pines coaching chapter is ending, I am very excited for this new challenge at Wausau East,” said Pieper. “I played in the Wisconsin Valley Conference and to now have the opportunity to coach in the Valley is very exciting, I guess only time will tell what the future holds for myself at Wausau East, but like I did here at Pines, they will get every ounce I have to offer to help make the program into a winning program.”

Pieper said a number of people at Northland Pines made it a pleasure to coach the Eagles the past three years.

“First, I have to thank Brian Margelofsky for believing in me three years ago and offering me the job here. He’s been awesome to work for and with. He’s a basketball guy at heart and Pines is lucky to have him. He’s the best athletic director in the GNC, no question about that,” said Pieper. 

“I also have to thank (District Administrator) Scott Foster and (Principal) Dan Marien, such awesome people, so supportive, it’s no wonder why Pines is such an awesome school,” said Pieper. “Dan, unlike Brian, is a hockey guy and we created enough excitement this past year to even get him to come to few games.”

Pieper also recognized his coaching staff.

“I have to thank my staff, Dave Hasenberg, Charlie Laham, Jack Wales and Josh Tilley. It’s not often you can keep a staff intact for three straight years, but we worked hard to give the best we could to the players in the basketball programs,” said Pieper. “Each holds a special place in my heart, but I have to make sure to give a little extra thank you to Josh Tilley. He was my right-hand guy. He knew what I was thinking at times before I was even thinking it. He was the guy who made this past three years go so smoothly. If I forgot something or needed something, he had it covered. He is a great friend and the best assistant coach I’ve ever had.”

Pieper said the parents also have been supportive of the program.

“The parents I’ve had the pleasure to meet over the past three years I owe a huge thank you to as well,” said Pieper. “Nowadays, when a lot of coaches complain about how parents can be at times, I’ve never had that complaint. I was lucky to have such supportive and understanding parents the past three years. I can only hope I’m lucky enough to have such awesome parents at East.”

Pieper also gave kudos to the Northland Pines Basketball Association.

“What they do and the work they take off my plate gets overlooked too much. Having a youth program like ours and with the people running it is amazing,” said Pieper. “In particular there were a few members who I interacted with the most and always were willing to go above and beyond: Amanda Stiemke, Jim Beyer and Gary Muench. They are three of the best people I know. They did so much on our special youth nights and at the youth clinics and every time I had a question or a small request, they were there.”

Pieper said he will miss the Northland Pines players the most.

“My guys, my boys, my players, my family, all the players in the basketball program made this one of the toughest decisions of my life,” said Pieper. “There are so many awesome young men who work their tails off to be the very best they can be on and off the court. They trusted me, they trusted the process, they did what I asked and they didn’t pout when I would get on them at times.

“We laughed, we cried, we celebrated and at the end of the day, like family, we always had each other’s back,” said Pieper. “I will miss each and every one of them. They are all so awesome.”

Pieper said the coaches, parents, fans, players and support groups have elevated Pines basketball.

“I want to thank everyone who helped change the culture of Pines basketball over the past three years,” he said. “I’ve met so many lifelong friends, and had a blast being an Eagle the past three years.”