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Niagara River Lions Make Coaching Change
Following a disappointing 5-14 start to their season, Niagara River Lions Head Coach and General Manager Ken Murray has been relieved of his duties.
After an extremely successful career as the Head Coach for the men’s basketball program at Brock University, which included two national championships, and a short-lived retirement, Coach Murray joined the Niagara River Lions as Head Coach and General Manager when the team was formally announced in early 2015.
“Coach Murray played an important role in our organization in the months leading up to the beginning of the season,” Niagara River Lions’ co-owner Richard Petko said following the decision. “We are disappointed that the season hasn’t gone the way we had expected but we thank Coach Murray for everything he has done for our organization and we wish him the very best in the future.”
Coach Murray finishes his term with the Niagara River Lions with a 5-14 record, and although the team has been consistently competitive, the River Lions have struggled to close out games all season.
Former Assistant Coach and Welland native Grâce Lokole has been named the Niagara River Lions’ Head Coach on an interim basis.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and I realize it’s not the traditional way you get a head coaching role, but I’ve always prided myself on being prepared for any task and ready to face anything,” Grâce Lokole said about his new position with the team.
“I grew up in Welland and have lived in Niagara the majority of my life. I’ve played high school basketball here, I work closely with the local minor programs, high school programs, and Niagara College’s basketball program,” Coach Lokole continued. “There’s great basketball here in Niagara, and we’re going to play with the blue collar, hard-work mentality that Niagara is known for as a Region. Niagara has had a long history as a manufacturing region and that strong, hard-nosed work ethic, especially on defense, is going to be this team’s calling card,” Lokole said about the team’s remaining 21 regular season games and their playoff run.
“We’ve been extremely impressed by Grâce’s work ethic since day one. He spends countless hours at the office going over game tape, developing strategy, and doing everything in his power to put the River Lions in the best position to win,” Richard Petko said about the team’s new Head Coach.
Coach Lokole knows that Ken Murray has done a lot for the Niagara River Lions and will benefit from Murray’s ground work. “Adam Blazek has been a great find for us. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar and Ken did a great job of finding him. Blazek has been a big part of our success this season and that’s thanks to Coach Murray”
The Niagara River Lions are at the midway point in their season and will look to regain their confidence and do a better job of closing out games. Coach Grâce Lokole will look to develop a strategy to finish games on a strong note both on the road and at home and to improve the team’s home record which currently sits at 3-6.