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Sacred Heart names Owens basketball coach

Carrie Owens, a former star at D'Youville College, will attempt to carry on the proud basketball tradition at Sacred Heart Academy as the school's new head coach.

Owens, who had a 34-8 record and a Section VI Class B-2 championship in two seasons as head coach at Cleveland Hill, will succeed Debbie Laux, who is retiring after 17 years with the Sacred Heart basketball program. She was on a leave of absence last season when the Sharks were coached by Jack Coppola.

Owens, a Charter School fourth-grade teacher in the Buffalo, was an assistant coach for five years at D'Youville before coaching at North Tonawanda and Cleveland Hill. She developed a mentoring program at the Matt Urban After-School program, was a volunteer coach with Girls on the Run and has been involved with the Big Brother and Big Sister of WNY program.

Laux attended Sacred Heart Academy when Neumann High in Williamsville closed in 1979 and ended up spending a great deal of her life there, serving as an assistant coach under the late Sister Maria Pares. She finished her high school career with 1,050 points at the two schools, then went on to Canisius College. During her four-year career as a Golden Griffin Laux scored 1,430 points in 104 career games and had 672 rebounds. She is the sixth-leading career scorer in Canisius history and was elected to the Canisius Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

At Canisius, Laux played under the late Sister Maria, before serving as her assistant for 16 years at Sacred Heart. She succeeded Sister Maria as head coach in 2015-16 and directed the Sharks to an 18-5 record and the state Catholic High School Athletic Association Class A championship. It was her only season the official head coach. With Sister Maria and Laux leading the team, Sacred Heart became a dominant team in Monsignor Martin Association girls basketball, winning Monsignor Martin championships in 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Laux said family concerns and her job with the family business led to her decision to retire from coaching.

"With the time it takes, it's not a four-month season, but sort of a 12-month job to work with the kids," she said. "With my kids, my job and family obligations, I didn't think I had the time to do it the way it should be done. I thought it was time for somebody young and to pass that leadership on.

"The legacy at Sacred Heart was built under Sister Maria. Sacred Heart and she are one and the same."

Sister Maria Pares, pioneer in women's sports, dead at 75

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