Paly's Tention to rejoin the college coaching ranks

Rodney Tention (left) instructs Jamir Shepard during a Central Coast Section playoff game. Photo by Karen Ambrose Hickey.

Rodney Tention, who served as Palo Alto High boys basketball coach for one season, is moving on to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, where he will join recently-hired John Smith’s staff as associate head coach.

“I know who the boss is,’’ Tention said. “I appreciate the title. But let me work, that’s all I ask for. We’ve got a great challenge.’’

Tention, who has many years of experience as a college coach, took over at Palo Alto after Peter Diepenbrock stepped down and guided the team to a 21-10 record and a Central Coast Section Division I championship.

But after one season an opportunity presented itself to return to the college ranks.

“It was a tough decision because I had such a great time this year with those guys,’’ Tention said. “But the opportunity came up.’’

The Vikings were 10-9 at one point before catching fire and winning 11 in a row. After capturing the CCS title they won two Northern California playoff games on the road at Sonora and at Kezar Pavilion over Stuart Hall before losing in the semifinals at Monterey.

“They were great kids who worked their butts off to get better at the end of the season,’’ Tention said.

He accepted the offer late Thursday night but asked Cal Poly to hold off on an announcement until Monday, to give him time to talk to his players at Paly. But the word got out early on Friday.

“Someone saw it on Twitter and I said, `oh, no,’ and got my varsity returning guys together to let them know,‘’ Tention said.

So now Palo Alto athletic director Therren Wilburn will go through the process again of making the position available and conducting interviews to bring on a new coach.

“I wish him well,’’ Wilburn said of Tention. “It’s part of the landscape of coaching these days, especially at a public school. I expect the position will generate heavy interest. I hope we get something in place by the summer.’’

“The bar is set,’’ Tention said. “Whoever it is will get some good ones. And those guys have to teach the JV guys coming up how hard it is to play at that level.’’

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