After five seasons as Denison’s head boys basketball coach, Chet Byerly has stepped down to take an assistant position at The Woodlands.
Byerly compiled a 38-108 record during his time with the Yellow Jackets, including an 11-20 record this past season that was his best at the school.
It was the first time the Jackets won at least 10 games in a season since 2011-12 and the best campaign since 2010-11. He did not make the playoffs at Denison but was just on the outside with a pair of fifth-place finishes these past two years.
Denison athletic director Chad Rogers hired his replacement from within by elevating assistant coach Dale Rhodes.
“We’re sorry to see Chet and his family go but understand,” Rogers said. “We have a fine choice with Coach Dale Rhodes, someone who went here and we think is going to do a really, really good job with the opportunity.”
Rhodes is a 1996 Denison graduate who went to Stephen F. Austin and returned to the Denison ISD as a coach in 2012 after volunteering with the North Texas Job Corps Center and worked as the executive director of the Denison Boys & Girls Club.
“I went and met with Coach Rogers and told him I heard the position was open and I’d love to be considered,” Rhodes said. “It’s an amazing feeling because I played here. It’s kind of surreal.”
He was a three-year varsity basketball player who earned all-state honors as well as being a regional track qualifier in his senior year.
The program hasn’t made the postseason since the 2010-11 campaign and last earned a playoff win in 2010.
Byerly went 5-19 overall in his first season at Denison, which was actually an improvement in winning percentage over the prior season and improved the number of victories the next two years but struggled with a tough district schedule in that time, going 1-27 against district opponents including an 0-14 mark in 10-5A in 2015-16 after entering district with a 9-10 record.
The Jackets took a step back with an overall record of 7-23 in 2016-17 but won twice in the newly-formed 5-5A and went into the final week of this past season with a chance to get the district’s final playoff spot but ultimately fell a game short behind rival Sherman for fourth place yet won more district contests that the previous three years combined by ending 4-8.
“Basketball needs to be better and we’re trying to get it going in that direction,” said Rhodes, who has a son entering the high school program as a freshman in the fall. “We got up and down the floor. We shot the three a lot. I’m a defensive guy. I was that way when I played. If you can stop people you’re always going to have a chance.”
A former standout at Angelo State University, Byerly replaced Joe Barnett when he left to be an assistant coach at Chisholm Trail. He had previously coached at Abilene, Breckenridge, Azle, Snyder — where he coached from 2006-09 under Rogers, Hillsboro and El Campo. His son Hagen would have been a sophomore point guard for the upcoming season.
Realignment will send the Jackets into the newly-formed District 10-5A with Sherman, Lovejoy, Princeton, McKinney North and Wylie East for the next two seasons. Sherman, Lovejoy, McKinney North and Princeton — in Class 4A — were playoff teams last season. Four of the six teams in the district will advance to the postseason.
“There’s a couple of teams in the district that are similar to us. I don’t see why we can’t be competitive early,” Rhodes said. “It’s gonna be exciting. It’s gonna be fun.”