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‘Comes full circle’: Longtime Brockton High boys basketball coach is back on the sidelines

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BROCKTON — The pandemic’s dark cloud made retirement an easier transition for Bob Boen.

Then, high school basketball state tournaments tipped off again the ensuing year after halting play in 2020.

The former longtime Brockton High boys basketball coach couldn’t resist it any longer. This past offseason, Boen made a call to his former player Manny DeBarros, the Boxers’ current head coach, after three years away and inquired about the team’s vacant JV coach position.

“Coach had the itch,” DeBarros said with a chuckle. “I absolutely said yes because that wealth of knowledge is something you can’t buy. It’s a great experience having him with me, in terms of supporting me and seeing things maybe I didn’t see. It’s nice to have a partner who you know has been through the fire. His wisdom will be invaluable during the season.”

Boen retired as the seventh head coach in the program history. He guided the Boxers to over 200 wins and two Division 1 South Sectional championships in his 13-year tenure from 2007-2020. Before taking over as head coach, he served as the JV coach under legend Victor Ortiz for 23 years (1984-2007) and won over 400 games at the sub-varsity level.

Installing press breaks and pitching in on instruction, he’s back like he never left.

“I missed it a lot. I missed it almost right away,” Boen, 70, said. “Especially once they got around tournament time, it was very hard not to coach.”

More: ‘Bittersweet’: Monteiro-less Brockton High boys basketball making due without football star

DeBarros served as Boen’s JV coach for seven years prior to being promoted to head coach after Boen stepped away in 2020. Before that, DeBarros, a 1998 Brockton High graduate, played for Boen as a freshman guard on the JV team in 1995.

“It comes full circle,” DeBarros said. “There was always a connection there when I was a player and he was a coach. So, now, it just fortifies it even more.”

Brockton enters this season fresh off an appearance in the Division 1 Elite Eight, where the Boxers suffered defeat to the eventual champion, North High of Worcester. In the wake of 10 graduated seniors and the departure of All-Scholastic senior guard Cam Monteiro, who is off to pursue a Division 1 college football career at the University of Pittsburgh, the team has spent preseason practices integrating a nearly top-to-bottom shake-up of DeBarros’ rotation.

“I emphasize to them a lot, Brockton basketball has a reputation,” Boen said of meeting the new players. “Coach DeBarros said that about the people who wanted to scrimmage us, (the opposition is) going to be excited because they’re scrimmaging Brockton and they know Brockton is a real good program. They’re going to be all-out, doing everything they can to beat us. Nobody’s going to take us lightly.”

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