Crites resigns as James Wood girls' basketball coach after seven seasons

A record-setting coaching tenure has come to an end.

James Wood announced on Wednesday that Krista Crites has resigned after a wildly successful seven-year run as the school’s girls’ basketball coach. Crites is moving back to where she grew up in West Virginia’s Grant County and will serve as a physical education teacher for Moorefield Elementary School and Moorefield Intermediate School.

Crites — a teacher at Middletown Elementary school — will start her new job on Monday. As of now, she is uncertain about her future in terms of coaching basketball.

In a news release, James Wood coordinator of student activities Craig Woshner said the school “plans to begin the process of finding [Crites’] successor in the coming days.” Official practice for the 2020-21 Virginia High School League girls’ basketball season is slated to begin on Dec. 7.

Crites led the Colonels to a 112-55 record in her time as head coach, a winning percentage of .671 that stands as the best among the six people who have coached in the 48-year history of the program. Each of Crites’ seven teams had winning records, with the 2018-2019 team ending a 10-year regional tournament drought and the 2019-20 team setting a school record for victories with a 22-5 record.

“[Leaving James Wood] was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” said the 36-year old Crites in a phone interview. “I have built a life at James Wood. A lot of great kids have come through that program. They’ve become a family.”

But Crites also has an extensive family related by blood and through marriage, and that’s why the graduate of Grant County’s Petersburg High School is leaving.

Crites and her husband Josh recently sold their house in Wardensville, W.Va., and the closing date is Oct. 9. Crites’ parents are giving them land behind their Grant County home, and Krista and Josh will build a home for them and their two children, Deacan, 9, and Beckett, 2. Crites said Deacan is already playing flag football and baseball in Moorefield and will once again play basketball there.

Crites said she also has aunts, uncles and grandparents that live near her parents, and Josh’s family is also from the area.

Crites and her family will be more than an hour from Middletown and James Wood, which was too far away for her to continue at her Frederick County jobs.

“It’s a new adventure that we’re embarking on as a family, and hopefully good things come of it,” Crites said. “My family comes first, and I always portray that to my athletes. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

Crites said Moorefield High School is right across the street from where she’ll be teaching, but she doesn’t know yet if she’ll be helping out the Yellow Jackets’ basketball program or some other program.

“I would like to coach, obviously, but nothing’s set in stone as of right now,” Crites said.

Crites certainly left her mark in Frederick County, coaching two schools for a total of 14 years. She spent two years as JV coach at Millbrook, four years as JV coach at James Wood, and one year as an assistant to Rhonda Slider on the Colonels’ varsity before taking the head job prior to the 2013-14 season.

“Coach Crites is an outstanding girls’ basketball coach,” Woshner said in the release. “During her tenure at James Wood, she built a very successful program, but more importantly had a positive impact on each of the players she coached. We wish her well.”

Crites led James Wood to a 17-7 record in her second season in 2014-15, and in 2017-18, the Colonels matched that mark.

The 2018-19 James Wood team went 16-9 and defeated Sherando in the Class 4 Northwestern District semifinals to earn the program’s first region tournament berth since 2009.

Led by the school’s all-time leading scorer, senior guard Makayla Firebaugh, James Wood set the school record for wins last season and beat 21-0 Millbrook for the first time under Crites and the first time since 2008 in the regular-season finale. The victory — which avenged a 68-45 loss to the Pioneers earlier in the season — made both teams 13-1 in the Class 4 Northwestern and made them regular-season co-champions.

James Wood would finish 22-5, with four of its losses coming to Class 4 state semifinalists Millbrook (three; the Pioneers won the district regular-season tiebreaker and the district tourney final) and Loudoun Valley, which ended the Colonels’ season in the Region 4C semifinals.

Crites was named Co-Class 4 Northwestern District Coach of the Year, and for the second straight year Firebaugh was named the district’s Player of the Year. A two-time all-state selection, Firebaugh scored 2,031 points in her James Wood career and will play for Rider University this year.

“That team last year was a phenomenal team to go out with,” Crites said. “District Coach of the Year was definitely an honor, sharing that with [Millbrook] coach [Erick] Green. And Makalya getting Region, and Winchester Star, and District Player of the Year, definitely a good way to go out.

“A lot of talent’s still there [at James Wood]. Hopefully, whoever fills in my spot will build off my successes.”

Crites is thankful for the support she received from Woshner and James Wood principal Sam Gross.

“Especially Craig, giving me the opportunity to coach at James Wood and taking a chance on me,” Crites said. “Coaching at James Wood meant so much to me.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at
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