Knights' Metheany learned lessons well

Back in the early 1970s, Randy Metheany, Rod Williams and Mike Arburn were self-described "gym rats" at Hillsdale High School.

Back in the early 1970s, Randy Metheany, Rod Williams and Mike Arburn were self-described "gym rats" at Hillsdale High School.


They won the Mid-Peninsula League basketball title in 1973-74 and came within one rimmed-out shot of upsetting San Francisco Riordan in the Central Coast Section playoffs.


More than 30 years later, Metheany is still at home in San Francisco peninsula gyms, now coaching the Hillsdale Knights and running several youth programs in the San Mateo area.


Recently, though, Metheany announced this season will be his last as the Hillsdale coach. He will step down as just the fourth coach in Knight history, giving way to frosh-soph coach Brett Stevenson.


Metheany has spent 27 years in the Knight program, including assisting former Hillsdale coach Bill Wilkin for 20 years. He has been the varsity coach since 2001.


He still calls Wilkin for guidance occasionally and credits him for much of his basketball knowledge.


"I spent years as the frosh-soph coach, just teaching the fundamentals so that the kids would be ready for varsity," Metheany said. "I'd have remained as the frosh-soph coach if Bill (Wilkin) hadn't decided to retire."


Metheany and Wilkin were a formidable team, Metheany laying the groundwork for the young Knight players and Wilkin putting the finishing touches on them.


In 1995 the Knights (30-0) won the league and section titles and made it all the way to the CIF-State Division III title game, where they lost to Harvard-Westlake, which boasted twin 7-footers Jarrod and Jason Collins, who later played at Stanford.


Metheany also coached softball at Hillsdale, leading the Knights to back-to-back section section titles in 1990 and ‘91 and a No. 1 state ranking in 1990. At one point he had all three Brady sisters - Maureen, Julie and Nancy - on his team.


The Bradys are the older sisters of Tom Brady, later to quarterback nearby San Mateo Serra and, of course, the New England Patriots.


"Maureen was the state player of the year back then," Metheany said. "Tommy Brady was just a little kid sitting on the end of the bench."


It wasn't all trophies and championships for the Knights. Twenty years ago 7-foot Nick Vanos - a former Hillsdale, Santa Clara University and NBA star - died in an auto accident.


It was a sad time for San Mateo County, which hasn't produced many pro basketball players.


Four years ago, Metheany and the Hillsdale community were saddened when rising senior basketball player Tony Lai was paralyzed from his neck down as the result of an auto accident.


"Tony Lai was one of Randy's all-time favorites," said Stevenson, Metheany's soon-to-be successor. "I think that influenced Randy's coaching style. Since then he has really made an effort to know each one of his players on and off the court."


Metheany, 51, admits he was very moved by the experience. He recalled what it was like seeing Lai supended in a harness from the ceiling so that there would be no weight on his body.


He recalled Lai writing him a five-page letter and telling him it was the coach's never-say-die urgings that kept him going.


"When you experience something like that, you really check yourself," Metheany said. "It really puts winning and losing in perspective."


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