Boys’ basketball coach leaves after two seasons; won MIAA A championship

by Derek Toney

John Zito, who led John Carroll School to the MIAA A Conference basketball championship this past season, has stepped down.

“At the end of the year meeting, the school informed me they were allocating athletic financial aid differently than they had in the past,” said Zito, who met with school officials a couple of weeks ago. “Knowing that information, I made the decision to step down. It’s a real tough decision, but it was best to step down and pass it on to someone else.”

Zito said he notified school officials last Monday. A former assistant and player at UMBC, Zito went 51-20 in two seasons at the Bel Air school, winning the MIAA A Conference title this past winter. The Patriots (30-8) finished No. 2 in the final VSN Top 20.

John Carroll held the No. 1 ranking after the MIAA A title win before losing to eventual No. 1 and Baltimore Catholic League champ St. Frances Academy in the BCL tourney semifinals.

Zito said he met with the players last week after resigning.

“Obviously everybody was a little shocked,” said Zito. “This was certainly something no one foresaw or planned. I certainly had intentions to have more time.”

Zito was tapped by the Bel Air private school in July 2016 to succeed Tony Martin, who won 266 games, two Baltimore Catholic League titles and a MIAA A title in 11 seasons. Martin stepped down to be closer to family in North Carolina, and is currently coaching at Cape Fear Academy.

In a statement, John Carroll athletic director Steve Teter said: “We are grateful to Coach Zito for all he has done to enhance the experience of our basketball student-athletes over the past two years, from leading them to championships to helping them achieve their goals for college and beyond. We wish him all the best in the future.”

Zito spent seven seasons as an assistant with the UMBC men’s team, after stints at Beth Tfiloh (assistant) and Fairfield University (graduate assistant). The Patriots spent this past season in the VSN Top 5 with one of the nation’s best backcourts with McDonald’s All-American Immanuel Quickley (Kentucky) and Montez Mathis (Rutgers).

“The biggest difference with kids in high school and in college, the high school kids are more green and a lot more wide-eyed,” said Zito, a Connecticut native who was a two-time basketball captain at UMBC. “They’re eager to learn and get better, not saying the college guys don’t. I will miss being around the kids in practice and helping them with life lessons.”

Zito plans to take a year off from coaching to focus on his young family and real estate career. He’s excited about getting to see his former players in college in the coming months.

Zito said his wife is already planning an August trip to the Bahamas where Kentucky will play four exhibition games.

“It was a big change for me spending most of my time at the college level. I built some great relationships and met some great people,” said Zito. “The people at John Carroll were fantastic and very supportive. We had really good kids from really good families, and that made everything only more enjoyable. I’ll miss it.”

Zito is the third coach in recent weeks to step down from a high profile program. George Panateogou, who guided Perry Hall to consecutive Class 4A state public titles, resigned to focus on his daughters.

John Bauersfeld said goodbye to Calvert Hall College after 11 seasons. He’s leaving at the end of the school year and will relocate to Georgia where he will coach and teach at Pinecrest Academy.