Ever since he was hired at Bloomington Kennedy, Quintin Johnson’s been waiting for a chance to get back to Eau Claire.
Finally, in his sixth season as Eagles girls basketball coach, the former UW-Eau Claire player got to make the trip.
Johnson, the off-the-bench sparkplug of the Blugolds’ 2000 national runner-up team, took his Kennedy team to the Doghouse on Tuesday night for a nonconference game against North. The end result wasn’t what Johnson had in mind — behind Mattea Peplinski’s 14 points, the Huskies won 49-33 — but it was a nice trip down memory lane for Johnson.
“It was great to be here,” Johnson said. “A couple of my friends came, a couple people recognized me from back in those days — ‘99, 2000. It was nice. Hopefully it’s something we can do every year.”
That 1999-2000 team, powered by the likes of Sherm Carstensen and Jon Wallenfelsz, still holds a special place in Eau Claire’s heart. So does Johnson, who all these years later is still known in these parts by one letter — Q.
“Those were special years back then,” Johnson said. “We were very visible. When the ‘Golds are winning like back then, it was the place to be. They still remember. It was some good basketball back then.”
These days Johnson is racking up wins as a coach. He recently won his 100th career game, and is enjoying similar success to many of his old college teammates. That 2000 roster also included current Eau Claire North boys coach Todd Marks, current Louisiana Tech coach Eric Konkol and Eric Gardow, who has had a lengthy overseas coaching career.
“It’s awesome that they’re all doing that stuff,” Johnson said. “I know Terry (Gibbons) is pretty proud about all that stuff. I still use a lot of his stuff that he taught us there.”