Zion-Benton High School’s Board of Education debated late into the night Thursday, and then selected longtime assistant coach Bobby Worthington to be the program’s new varsity boys basketball coach.
Worthington becomes just the third man to head the Zion-Benton program in the last 40 years. He is replacing Don Kloth, who stepped down after this past season when, according to several reports, it appeared he was only going to be retained as coach for one more year. Kloth has since been hired as an assistant coach at Warren High School in Gurnee.
Kloth coached the Zee-Bees for 25 seasons, and finished with a 528-221 record, 14 regional titles, two sectional titles, and a second-place finish in the 2008 Class 4A state tournament. He is the winningest boys basketball coach in Lake County history.
When Kloth was hired, he replaced Phil Judson, who had a successful 14-year run coaching the Zee-Bees.
Zion-Benton’s varsity basketball team is scheduled to play in the 16-team Mundelein Shootout on Friday and Saturday. The Zee-Bees have pool-play games on Friday morning at 8, 10 and 11 a.m.
Worthington is a 1984 graduate of Zion-Benton High and was a standout player for the Bees under Judson.
After graduating from ZBTHS, he spent two years at Dodge City Junior College in Kansas, and then played two seasons at Michigan State.
He later returned home to Zion and became an assistant coach, working with Kloth starting in the mid-1990s. Currently, he works at Z-B High School as Dean of Security.
“We are very enthused with the hiring (of Worthington),” said Chris Clark, superintendent of Zion-Benton High School’s district. “He has been involved with the basketball program for almost two decades.
“He has also developed and led the feeder program.”
Last winter, Zion-Benton posted a 26-5 record, and was one of just two teams in the state to beat Stevenson. However, Zion has won just one regional title in the four years, and has no sectional-fianl appearances in that time.
Next year’s team will be without four-year varsity starter Milik Yarbrough, who finished his prep career with 2,621 points and is the county’s all-time scoring leader. He’s now a freshman at St. Louis University.
The board’s vote in favor of hiring Worthington was reported by multiple sources as being 5-2.
The first portion of the regularly scheduled school board meeting at Zion-Benton’s East Campus (Bethesda and 23rd Street) started at 7 p.m. and continued for around 90 minutes.
At that point, the board adjourned to what turned out to be a very lengthy closed session.