Herman Nash took over running the team on the night of March 2, after Pacific… (Handout )
Herman Nash is his name, and the 44-year-old former Manual Arts running back has earned a special place in the history of West Hollywood Pacific Hills basketball.
He took over running the team on the night of March 2, after Pacific Hills defeated Brentwood in the Southern Section 4A final and head Coach Ivan Barahona left to coach the El Salvador national team.
With Nash directing practices and making decisions on the sideline, Pacific Hills went through the gantlet of the CIF Southern California Division IV playoffs, knocking off powerhouses La Verne Lutheran, Gardena Serra and Torrance Bishop Montgomery to earn a spot in Saturday's state championship game in Sacramento.
To top it off, Nash was scheduled to drive to LAX on Sunday night to pick up Barahona, who is returning from El Salvador and will be back to coach the Bruins in Saturday's final against Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman.
"Am I a lucky guy or what?" Barahona wrote in an email from El Salvador on Saturday night. "Pac Hills going for its first D4 state title and El Salvador has won the silver medal in the Central American games for the first time in 25 years. Coach Nash and our staff have done an amazing job in my absence. They are a coaching staff every coach wishes to have."
Barahona had better be bringing a nice present for Nash.
"I'm hoping he brings me back at least a T-shirt," Nash said.
Nash played running back at Manual Arts, graduating in 1987. He played at Pasadena City College and Long Beach State. He started coaching youth basketball and met Barahona, who hired him as an assistant coach when he became head coach at Pacific Hills eight years ago.
"I felt great to be able to step in and keep it going until he gets back," Nash said. "I didn't want to let him down. I've tried to take it one game at a time."
Now Barahona knows if he ever gets two technicals and is ejected, he has a competent replacement.
It certainly helped Nash that Pacific Hills (28-4) has the best trio of guards in Southern California in Jahmel Taylor, bound for Washington; Marcus Jackson, bound for Rice, and junior Namon Wright, scholarship offers from UCLA and USC.
"When you have three great guards in Namon, Marcus and Jahmel, it's pretty much sit back and watch them go to work," Nash said. "And Jonathan Mills has played great through the playoffs. I tell them what to do and they execute it."
Nash has five children and owns a fitness company. Strength and conditioning is his usual coaching focus. His 13-year-old daughter, Jadagrace, is an R&B singer who just released her first single, "Run Dat Back."
Nash is still learning on the job, such as what happened Saturday night. Jackson got blood on his uniform in the fourth quarter after getting hit in the mouth, and the officials wouldn't let him come back until the uniform was cleaned. Pacific Hills didn't have an alternative jersey. A trainer for Serra donated some hydrogen peroxide, cleaned the uniform and Jackson made it back to help the Bruins defeat Bishop Montgomery, 73-69.
"I'm very grateful to the Serra trainer," Nash said.
Nash said he intends to buy some hydrogen peroxide as soon as he makes it to Sacramento this weekend in case there's emergency cleaning needed for a uniform.
It's all part of the job of an assistant coach who has proved his value to Pacific Hills.