Former Southern Oregon University point guard Steve Farley is the new head coach of the Ashland High girls' basketball team, the school announced Monday.




Farley, who helped guide the Raiders to consecutive NAIA Division II national tournament berths, succeeds Ken Lathen, who resigned after the 2006-07 season after two years at the helm.




"(Farley) will bring tremendous enthusiasm, energy and great knowledge of the game to this position," AHS athletic director Karl Kemper said in a prepared statement. "He has incredible vision for developing a program from youth teams through the varsity level. We believe that he will help us to be very competitive and maintain the excellence that has become a tradition for the Grizzly girls basketball team."




Farley, 23, is believed to be the youngest head coach in Ashland varsity basketball history.




"This is somewhat of an unconventional hire because it is relatively early in his coaching career to attain a head job," Kemper said of Farley, who worked as an assistant for the SOU men's team after graduating from SOU. "Coach Farley is definitely ready for the challenge. He has a calm, confident manner that young people respond to."




Lathen guided the Grizzlies to consecutive playoff berths, including a program-best fifth-place finish in '06.




The hire was Ashland's second major coaching move in a week. Last Monday, Royce Miller resigned after one season as head coach of the boys basketball team. Larry Kellems, an assistant coach at AHS since '99, will take over that program.




Miller's only season at the helm was one for the books. He guided the Grizzlies to their first league title since 1988 and their first state quarterfinal appearance since 1986. They finished 19-9 after going two-and-out at the state tournament.




"When coach Miller agreed to take the position last spring at the administrator's urging, we were in a difficult predicament in trying to fill the job," Kemper said.




"He indicated that he would be happy to help us out but would not be able to take on a long-term commitment to the program. He also said he would step aside if we were to find a suitable candidate willing to lead the program for the next several years."




Kellems' last head coaching job was at Etna High in Calif. He could not be reached for comment.




Sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.