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Dynasty dismantled: Arlee seeks new boys basketball head coach after Pitts resigns

ARLEE – Zanen Pitts, who had built up the Arlee High School boys basketball program into a Class C basketball dynasty, winning back-to-back state championships and appearing in four consecutive state title games in the last six seasons, stepped down as the Warriors varsity head coach on Wednesday evening, June 12. 

Although being unanimously approved by the school board and offered a contract to return as Warriors head coach for the upcoming 2019-20 season, Pitts notified his players and their families of his decision not to return for his seventh season as the head coach during Arlee’s end-of-season banquet.

Pitts cited a continued lack of support as a coach and an ongoing schism with the school board over the Warrior Movement as the reason for his stepping away from the program.

“I’m sick and tired of this administration,” Pitts told his team according to an article published by the Missoulian Thursday. “The administration literally just tore my passion apart for the game. I’m not going to put up with it anymore. I’m tired of it.”

Prior to Thursday’s Missoulian article, Arlee School District administrators had no prior knowledge of Pitts departure. 

In a written statement released Thursday afternoon, Arlee District Superintendent James Baldwin stated, “As a district, we were disappointed to see the Missoulian article which announced that Zanen Pitts would not renew his contract with the Arlee School District as the boys basketball coach.”

In 2014, Pitts was hired as the varsity head coach after serving as the assistant for the team the previous year. 

In the ever-competitive Montana State Class C, Pitts was recognized twice as the boys basketball coach of the year – after the 2017 and 2018 basketball seasons. His teams were known for their strong ball handling skills and tenacious defensive efforts.

During Pitts’ six-year tenure at Arlee, the Warriors compiled an impressive 140-18 record which included a 48-game winning streak and an overall .886 game winning percentage. 

The Warriors also became the first Montana Class C boys team to make four consecutive appearances in the state title game, winning back-to-back State C championships in 2017 and 2018. 

Along with the state championships which where first in the school’s history, the Warriors won three consecutive divisional titles and five consecutive District 14C championships.

Pitts has not only been recognized for success on the court but for his leadership and mentorship of his players – particularly with the Warrior Movement.

As Pitts moves forward, he will continue running the Warrior Movement, a non-profit organization that began with the 2018 Warrior basketball team dedicating its state tournament to lives lost by suicide in the valley.

“It’s moving forward at 1,000 miles per hour faster now,” Pitts said in the Missoulian article. “We got lots of things in store.”

Arlee administrators will conduct a search for Pitts’ successor with an application process that will open in the following weeks.

 

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