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February 18, 2014

Hite Steps Down at Petersburg

Following a stunning 76-70 loss in the Conference 26 Tournament quarterfinals to a Hopewell team that they had beaten three previous times this season, the Petersburg Crimson Wave received even more shocking news when Head Coach Rick Hite decided to step down after three seasons on the sidelines for one of the state's most successful High School Basketball programs.

Hite, 40, fully anticipates on coaching again. Where that will be at this point remains to be seen.

"I've had a few different career situations come my way and wanted to wait it out. Going into this year, I was going to go through the season, see how things go, but my mind was kind of already made up, probably months ago, that this would be my last [season] here. It wasn't that hard of a decision based on me," he told VirginiaPreps.com.

"I appreciate Petersburg. For me, I aspire to be so much more and felt like there's so much more for me to accomplish. I believe in what I do, what I bring and felt it was time to tackle that next hurdle."

Hired in October of 2011, Hite replaced Bill Lawson III, now the school's Athletic Director. Lawson III led Petersburg to four consecutive trips to the State Tournament from 2007-10.

Hite grew up in north Philadelphia, scoring over 1100 points in his career at George Washington High School. After that, he went on to the junior college ranks and transferred to San Jose State. He capped his playing career professionally overseas in Australia and England.

When his playing days were over, it didn't take long for Hite to jump into coaching. He spent eight years at Collegiate in Richmond, serving an assistant coach for basketball, baseball and football.

For the second year in a row, Petersburg missed the regional playoffs as they were eliminated in the Central District Tournament by #7 seed Prince George a season ago. Hite insists that the unexpected loss to Hopewell had no impact on his decision.

"I said this to my family and to my coaches that whenever the run ends, it was going to end. Whether it was last night or March 13th, it was going to be it," Hite stated. "People might think the decision was based on the loss, but I've lost before. It was a decision based on wanting more. Wanting more for my career and for my family, and there was no need to prolong it here."

Despite a pair of playoff exits earlier than Crimson Wave fans are accustomed to, Hite compiled a more than respectable 59-18 record in three seasons at the helm. His tenure was highlighted by a 2010 campaign where they went 29-2 overall, won the Central Region Tournament and made it to the AAA State Championship before falling to Hampton, 64-51. That team was led by current Kansas University freshman guard Frank Mason, certainly at or near the top of the talented athletes Hite has coached.

"It was a good three years at Petersburg. We had some good wins, did some great things, had some tough losses, but that's High School sports. Traditionally, Petersburg has good talent and I've heard that some people don't envy me because it's a tough place," Hite went on to say.

"Sometimes people look at it in a negative way and I can tell you it makes it a lot harder than being in other places. The kids and environment are tougher than some other places, but I enjoyed it. The community was awesome, the players gave me everything and I have no regrets."

The Petersburg program was hit extremely hard by graduation following the 2011-12 campaign, and Hite admits it hasn't been an easy task to replenish that talent.

"I look around and am like, 'Wow, where did all the bigs go? Where did all the athleticism go? Did I run them away?' But it was fun," he continued.

"We were still a factor. I attribute that to hard work and dedication by those kids and those coaches. They didn't want to let the Petersburg tradition go away. We've lost early on the last couple years, but I've also had some people tell me they don't know how we were still able to be a factor with the talent drop-off the last couple of years."

Petersburg hasn't won a state title since 1974 when Moses Malone starred there. They've lost in the state title game five times since then - - 1978, 1985, 1989, 2010 and 2012. The Crimson Wave now begin their search for someone that can try to bring them one, while Hite moves on to the next chapter in his coaching career.

"I'm going to sift through some things. I want to increase the options and see what it does for me and my family at this time," Hite added.

"Anybody that knows me knows that I'm a coach at heart. This is what I do and I try to help young guys reach their goals and dream, and hope to continue to do that. It's just going to be at another stop, whether it's High School, college, professional or somewhere. I want to help somebody."

Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail hatfieldsports2k4@yahoo.com, and don't forget to listen to him every Saturday at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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