Westlake High basketball Coach Roy Gilmore will not return to the program next season despite leading the team to its best record in school history during the recently completed season.
It is not clear whether Gilmore resigned or was fired, and neither he nor Athletic Director Bob Fisher was available for comment Thursday.
The news surprised Westlake players, who were told by Fisher at a basketball class last week that Gilmore would not return. Gilmore had directed a basketball class composed of underclassmen since the end of the season until April 8. He failed to show for the April 9 class when Fisher informed the players of the coaching change.
No successor reportedly has been named.
"A lot of the players were surprised when we heard the news," said Kevin Logan, a 6-5 junior who played on this season's team. "Coach Gilmore was talking about the summer and where we were going to play right up to the last day he was at practice. No one expected this."
Westlake was a surprise team in this season's Southern Section 4-A Division playoffs. Westlake was 17-7 during the regular season and finished second to Simi Valley in the Marmonte League. But in the playoffs, the Warriors won three games to advance to the Southern Section final before losing to Santa Monica, 62-60.
Before this season, Westlake had never won a playoff game.
Seniors on this season's team were caught off guard by the news.
"I couldn't believe it when I heard about it," said David Heckmann, a 6-8 center. "It seems very odd. I don't like it and I think he should still be there."
"No one expected this," said Paul Keenan, a 6-5 forward who led the team in scoring with a 16.5 average. "It's surprising, especially since he took us to the finals."
Gilmore, Westlake's coach for four years, was well-liked by his players, they said.
"He was like our buddy, a friend to all the players," Keenan said.
Said Heckmann: "He was a real nice guy and everyone got along with him. He was a good coach. I feel bad for him."