HB alum finding success early

Jourdain Bell wasn’t sure what to expect when he found out the Bishop Brady High School boys basketball team was getting a new head coach.

Just a few days before the first tryouts, Bell, a senior at the Concord school, and his teammates got to meet Cole Etten for the first time. Bell admits he was a little nervous.

“Meeting (Etten) for the first time, everyone is in the gym and I was nervous a little bit,” he said. “I didn’t know if he wanted us to play his game, or if he wanted to mix our game with his. We just weren’t sure how it was going to play out.”

So far, it’s been pretty good for the Giants.

No. 3 Bishop Brady (16-4) was one of four teams remaining in Division II, and was scheduled to take on No. 10 Goffstown (11-9) in the semifinals Wednesday. No. 1 Portsmouth (19-1) and No. 4 Lebanon (16-4) will meet in the second semifinal at 8 p.m., with the winners advancing to the championship game on Saturday.

For Etten, a Hollis Brookline graduate who was also the junior varsity coach for the Cavaliers last few seasons, it’s been quite a ride.

“It’s been a really fun experience and it’s been special,” Etten said. “The guys have been great. There have been some great leaders on this team. We’ve been able to play as a team and it’s been fun to watch and be a part of the Bishop Brady team.”

When the position with the Giants came open in the offseason, Etten decided to throw his name in the mix, despite being a little more than five years removed from his playing days at HB. But one thing Etten brought to the table was experience, not just on the court, but on the sidelines.

The youngest of three brothers, who all played at HB, Etten opted to get his coaching career started immediately, rather than try to play in college. While still a student at UNH, Etten began coaching the junior varsity team at Oyster River, in Durham, before making his way back to the Cavs.

It didn’t take long for Etten to make an impression on the Giants.

“Coach Etten knows how to talk to all the players on the team on a personal level,” Bell said. “He knows his Xs and Os very well. He’s gotten comfortable with us. I think in the beginning, maybe he felt he couldn’t tell us what to do, but I think we’ve shown him that we’re going to listen to him. He’s our coach.”

It hasn’t hurt Etten to have players like Bell, and his younger brother, Joe, along with leading scorer Brendan Johnson, who has averaged over 19 points per game this season.

“Having all three of those guys this year, they really set the standard for the team and it’s been a great experience all around,” Etten said. “They’re very special players. The great thing about them though is that they’re really great leaders on this team. They set the example well, both on and off the floor.”

As a player, Etten made it to UNH as a sophomore, with his brother, Ben, but the Cavs were knocked off in the semifinals.

That experience, along with Wednesday, will just be another part of Etten’s process of being the best coach he can be.

“As a coach, I’m still learning a lot,” he said. “With anything, there’s always learning that can happen. As I keep going, and keep coaching, it’s something I’ll never stop doing.”