TORRINGTON – Torrington High School announced Friday, April 23 that Neil Baker will no longer be the head coach of the Blazer boys’ basketball team.
“In looking at the current status and our vision for the future of the boys’ basketball program, we have met with coach Baker and have decided to move in a different direction,” the statement from THS athletic director Dave Plendl said.
The school had no further comment because the issue pertained to personnel matters.
When reached for comment, Baker said he was given the option to resign but declined such a move because he didn’t think it was in the best interest of the program.
“I have difficulty in understanding the situation because we had one rough season. Going forward, they’ll be better because they return the vast majority of guys who played. They were young,” Baker said. “It is hard for me to understand and think it is the right thing to do, and that’s why I didn’t resign. I didn’t feel like I could do that and feel like I was being honest.”
Baker informed the team last Tuesday about the school’s decision.
“There were a lot of shocked faces in the room. I don’t think anyone saw it coming. I know I didn’t,” Baker said. “I wish those kids the best.”
Baker was hired away from Bayard (Neb.) High School in June of 2015 to take over a struggling program which had gone 11-60 from 2013-2015.
In Baker’s first season at the helm, Torrington went 4-16 before going 16-10 in his second season.
The 2016-17 season proved to be his best season leading the Blazers. That season Torrington went 2-1 at the state tournament, winning the consolation championship.
It was the first of three trips to the state tournament under Baker.
After failing to qualify for state in 2018, the Blazers made back-to-back trips during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
During the 18-19 season, the Blazers went 0-2 during their trip to Casper.
The following season, the Blazers qualified for state as the No. 2 seed despite a 9-13 record, but due to COVID-19, the state tournament was canceled as the team was walking into the Casper Events Center.
In his final season, Torrington opened the season 2-0 before going 1-16 over the team’s final 17 games.
Baker’s tenure comes to a close with a 57-78 record.