LENOIR — After naming Michael Corpening as the interim replacement for the retiring Chad Keller last month, Hibriten High announced Friday afternoon that it has decided to remove the interim label and make Corpening the official head coach of the Panthers’ varsity boys basketball team. Corpening will look to continue the success that Keller enjoyed over the past eight seasons, during which he guided Hibriten to seven winning records and six state playoff appearances.
“My family, staff and I are excited to continue with the opportunity to lead the Hibriten basketball program to new heights,” said Corpening, who has helped lead the Panthers to a 9-3 record in summer league play. “We look forward to the opportunity to continue to grow and root ourselves in the Panther community. We are looking forward to every opportunity to teach and help nurture student-athletes to be the best they can possibly be.”
Corpening graduated from West Caldwell High in 2004 before receiving a full scholarship to play at Winston-Salem State University. He was an all-region player at Catawba Valley Community College from 2006-08 before spending two years as a standout hoopster at Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina.
Corpening also played professional basketball in Mexico, Finland and Canada before returning to Caldwell County in 2013. At that time, he began coaching JV basketball at Hibriten.
“Coach Corpening has done an amazing job of stepping into the lead role as interim head coach and has continued to improve and work diligently with the Hibriten men’s basketball program this summer,” Hibriten athletic director Derek Reeves said. “... With no hesitation, we truly believe Coach Corpening and his staff will take our program to a new level and bring a lot of excitement and discipline to our program.
“We know Coach Corpening and staff are 100 percent committed to making our program the best that it can possibly be,” he added, “and they are excited to tap into a group of young athletes with limitless abilities.”
After finishing 5-3 during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, Hibriten will join the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference beginning with the upcoming school year. Other teams in the Northwestern 3A/4A include Alexander Central, South Caldwell, Freedom, Ashe County and Watauga.
Josh McKinney is the sports editor for the Hickory Daily Record.