West Ouachita parted ways with basketball head coach Daniel Dalleo last week and will begin accepting applications for the vacant position next week.

Fresh off of a 21-10 (3-7) year where the Chiefs made the Class 5A playoffs, Dalleo, who just completed his third season with the school, said the decision caught him by surprise.

“We went to the playoffs in our first year in 5A, and it was one out of four times in the school’s history,” Dalleo said. “You look at it. (Mitch) Thomas went once, (Derek) Lopez went once and I’ve gone twice in three years. But I mean if our philosophies don’t line up… To be honest with you, it’s still a surprise. All of the on the court stuff, we did what we were supposed to do.”

Dalleo replaced Lopez in 2017. The Chiefs made the Class 4A playoffs in 2018 and reached the Class 5A playoffs as a No. 27 seed in 2020. The Chiefs fell to No. 6 Alexandria, 57-37, in the first round.

Athletic director Mitch Thomas said the decision came because the school ultimately wanted to go in a different direction and build long-term. 

“He’s a good guy, but we just want to see some things done differently,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t a situation where he did anything horrible off the court or anything like that. And you know, again, going to the playoffs is great, but establishing a program and doing things the right way consistently in practice and games is what we’re looking to do.”

Asked about what things the school would like to see done differently, Dalleo responded, “I’d rather keep that between us.”

Thomas said it would likely be a couple of weeks before the school would begin the interview process.

“We’re going to discuss all of that and see what we’re able to do,” Thomas said. “We’d like to eventually bring them in to interview in person, but that may have to wait a couple of week. It comes down to doing things were allowed to do.”

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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