2019 Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Coach of the Year: Crystal Lake South's Matt LePage

Crystal Lake South coach Matt LePage calls the shots from the bench against Jacobs during the Gators' regular-season finale Feb. 21.
Crystal Lake South coach Matt LePage calls the shots from the bench against Jacobs during the Gators' regular-season finale Feb. 21.

The phrase was uttered by multiple Fox Valley Conference coaches as the boys basketball season progressed and Crystal Lake South remained near the top of the standings.

“I didn’t see that coming from South,” they would say.

Gators coach Matt LePage had the respect of his FVC adversaries before this season, but South’s run to a share of the FVC championship took it to another level.

South (23-8, 12-4 FVC) tied Crystal Lake Central for the title, which is South’s first since 1994. The Gators tied for the fifth-most wins in school history, and LePage was voted Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Coach of the Year by the Herald sports staff.

Woodstock North’s Dale Jandron and Johnsburg’s Mike Toussaint, whose teams won Class 3A regional championships, also were considered.

LePage’s team became known for its tough defense, mainly its 1-3-1 half-court trap. The way the Gators defended was vital in their 10-game winning streak that put them in position for a share of the FVC title.

LePage, who played at NCAA Division II Northern Michigan, answered a few questions from Northwest Herald sports writer Joe Stevenson about his dream coaching job, his best lines to referees and what advice he gets from his wife, Marissa, who was an accomplished player at Northern Michigan.

What sports moment was so huge that you’ll always remember it?

LePage: There are two sports moments that stick with me more than any others. One, when my favorite childhood team, the Detroit Pistons (The Bad Boys) won the NBA title in 1989. Second, when Tiger Woods won the Masters in 1997.

Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?

LePage: Work out, black coffee or Diet Coke before game and cough drops.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life?

LePage: My colleagues would say Paul Ryan, but my daughters say Gerard Butler.

What are three must-see TV programs?

LePage: “Game of Thrones,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Longmire” and “Seinfield.”

Who would you most like to see in concert this summer?

LePage: Old Dominion.

Do you ever lean on your wife, Marissa, for coaching ideas?

LePage: Absolutely. She’s the ultimate assistant coach, behind the scenes and always seems to say the right thing and have a positive outlook. I’m very blessed, that’s for sure.

What’s the funniest thing you have ever said to a referee?

LePage: No comment. I think I say funny things all the time, but some of them don’t find it very funny.

What scares you?

LePage: Randall Road on Saturday afternoon.

What would be your dream coaching job?

LePage: I’m living it.

If you played baseball, what would be your walk-up music?

LePage: “Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G.

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