LAKEWOOD — Fittingly, Troy Pachner won his 400th career coaching victory on a basketball court in Jeffco.
Arapahoe’s 73-44 victory over Lakewood late Friday night in the semifinals of the Bear Creek Invitational marked a huge milestone for Pachner, who is in his 25th year coaching high school hoops.
“It’s exciting to have that Jeffco feeling,” said Pachner who coached in the Jeffco League for 21 years at D’Evelyn and Valor Christian. “I’m excited to do this in Jeffco.”
It started with Pachner cutting his teeth coaching in California for three years before moving to Colorado where he took over the heading coaching job at D’Evelyn in 1998.
“We had an incredible 17-year run at D’Evelyn. That was outstanding,” said Pachner, who guided the Jaguars to the Class 3A state championship in 2004. “I had a really good four years at Valor with some really great kids over there, but I’ll be honest. This is where I want to do it.”
Pachner guided Valor to the Class 4A state title in 2017. He is in his first year at Arapahoe. The Warriors (3-1 record) haven’t had a winning season since their 2013-14 campaign.
“It’s very different,” Arapahoe senior Bryson Stephens said of the change with the Warriors’ program. “He (Pachner) doesn’t tolerate losing at all which is a great thing. He has made it clear that we are here to win.”
Stephens (16 points) led the way for Arapahoe as the Warriors led from wire-to-wire against Lakewood (3-2). The Warriors had four players reach double-digit points as nine players scored for Arapahoe, but in Pachner signature-style it was the Warriors’ pressure defense that guided the way.
“Our defensive pressure set the whole tone,” Pachner said after the 29-point victory. “That was the key.”
Lakewood junior Michael Bennett was the lone Tiger in double-digit points with 15 points on the night. Despite the loss, Lakewood coach Daryl Johnson was all smiles when he gave a congratulating embrace to Pachner after the game.
“I haven’t won a single one of these games,” Pachner said. “I’ve been blessed to have some unbelievable players going all the way back. Credit to those guys and credit to my (assistant) coaches.”
Pachner also pointed out how important his wife Frances, son Isiah and daughter Heidi have been to his success.
“They have allowed me to seek my passion and I’ve just really appreciative of that,” Pachner said.
Bear Creek coach Will Gosch — an assistant for Pachner at D’Evelyn for six seasons — handed his mentor the game ball after the victory. Gosch’s Bears will square off against Pachner’s Warriors in the Bear Creek Invitational championship game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Bear Creek High School.
“Tomorrow is big,” Stephens said. “Let’s go get 401.”