FORT WAYNE – Because Andy Wyss wanted to hear the stories for himself, last month the second-year girls basketball coach at Northrop visited the home of the Bruins’ legendary Hall of Fame coach Dave Riley for a two-hour history lesson.
It was the last time he saw the retired coach.
Riley, who guided Northrop to the 1986 Indiana girls state championship and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, died Thursday after suffering a fall at his home. He was 78.
I was really interested in getting to know more about Northrop girls basketball history, and obviously nobody was better to go to than Dave, said Wyss, who became the Bruins’ head coach last season. We sat down for a couple hours and talked about the great, glory days of Northrop girls basketball throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
During his tenure from 1979 to 1998, Riley led Northrop to 10 SAC titles, eight sectional championships, seven regionals, two semistates and the ’86 state title with a 29-0 record that ended in a 58-53 victory over Scottsburg at Indianapolis’ Market Square Arena.
His 1986 and ’87 teams won 57 consecutive games.
He was a very good coach, said Gary Andrews, Saint Francis women’s coach who previously coached at Bishop Luers. I always thought he was very good offensively and wasn’t afraid to change things defensively.
But he was probably one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. Not only was he a good coach, but he was a nice person. He wasn’t fake; a genuine, nice person.
In 2011, Riley received the Nancy Rehm Award for those who have excelled or contributed greatly to women’s athletics.
In 2011, the ’86 Bruins state championship team was enshrined in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
A 1953 North Side graduate and 1957 Ball State graduate, Riley posted a 346-87 record while at Northrop.
Recently he’s been at every one of our boys and girls basketball games, and he was at the baseball games this spring, Northrop athletic director Bob Shank said of Riley. He just lived Northrop athletics and really helped out by having good conversations with me and he actually sat down with coach Wyss.
It’s just a huge loss to the whole athletic family and also the building. He was a great teacher there. I know he’ll be missed by a lot of people.
The complete obituary is on Page 2C.