WAXAHACHIE — David Piehler has more wins than any other boys basketball coach in Highland Park history. But he’ll be the first to acknowledge that doesn’t necessarily make him the best.
Piehler surpassed HP legend Bo Snowden with his 395th victory as the Scots rolled past Waco University 67-23 in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Region II playoffs on Tuesday.
“I’ve got one more win than he does, but that’s where it stops. His character, the kind of man he was — I couldn’t hold a candle to him,” said Piehler, who also acknowledged HP’s other coaches who preceded him. “To even be following in their footsteps was an honor when I got the job, and I never thought that 16 years later I’d surpass Coach Snowden. If I’m half the man he is, I’ll be happy.”
Piehler, a former SMU standout as a player, has amassed a record of 395-132 in 16 seasons since joining the Scots from Plano West. Snowden was 394-135 during an identical 16-year span before retiring in 1996.
Snowden died of colon cancer in 2010, while his son Travis was in his first season as Piehler’s assistant coach. He remains Piehler’s right-hand man 13 years later.
“Dave has been so good to me. He really gives me the freedom and respect that I don’t feel like I’m riding his coattails. He really makes me feel special. He’s an incredible coach, he’s an incredible competitor, and he’s an incredibly compassionate guy, as well,” Travis Snowden said. “My dad was really excited when I took the job because he knew I would learn from the best. He’d be on the front row cheering for Dave.”
The timing of Piehler’s accomplishment was bittersweet given the tragic circumstances facing HP’s first-round opponent. University was playing less than 48 hours after sophomore forward DreVion Booker was shot and killed on Sunday night in Waco.
“This was the most unenjoyable playoff win I’ve ever had,” Piehler said. “It’s a credit to them that they even played the game. It’s been very sobering the last 24 hours, and puts everything in perspective.”
The mood was somewhat subdued throughout the game, with at least one sign in the crowd paying tribute to the 16-year-old Booker, nicknamed “Bean.” His murder was still under investigation on Tuesday.
The Scots (27-4) used hot perimeter shooting to start the game on a 13-2 run thanks to 3-pointers by Alex Taylor, Luke Hardenburg, and Coleson Messer.
Meanwhile, the Trojans (14-21) struggled to generate much offense against HP’s interior size and smothering defense. HP held a 31-10 rebounding advantage.
The margin ballooned to 20 points late in the first quarter. By the time Camp Wagner hit his third 3-pointer in quick succession midway through the third, HP was up 53-15. University’s Tylan Harris stopped the 23-0 run with a trey after a seven-minute scoring drought.
Fifteen players saw action for the Scots and 10 scored, led by Messer with 16 points and eight rebounds. Wagner and Taylor contributed 15 points apiece. Harris tallied a team-high 10 points for the Trojans.
HP, which won the District 13-5A title during the regular season, stretched its winning streak to 15 games overall, with the last 13 coming by double-digit margins.
The Scots advance to meet Jacksonville in the area round at 7 p.m. on Friday in Wills Point. The Indians (26-6) defeated Hallsville 64-54 on Tuesday to reach the second round.