Joey Sanchez

Daily Sun File photo/Ron Farmer

Blooming Grove boys basketball coach Rito “Joey” Sanchez, who turned the program around is leaving the Grove to take a job at a Class 5A school in San Antonio. Sanchez won 79 games and had a tremendous impact on the program at BG, where he won the first boys basketball playoff game in 57 years. His Lions and won the Kiwanis Classic for the first time and played for the Kiwanis championship three of the four years he coached, winning the title twice.

BLOOMING GROVE — Rito “Joey” Sanchez is leaving Blooming Grove, and leaving  giant footprints to fill in the boys basketball program that he turned upside down.

Sanchez accomplished more in four short years than anyone could have imagined when he showed up at the Grove, preaching defense, defense and more defense just four years ago.

He walks away leaving a legacy after knocking down one door after another with a program that soared with his energy and passion and guidance.

The Lions won 79 games under Sanchez, whose 2019 team went 25-10, setting a new standard, and he did something no BG boys basketball coach had ever done when he won the Kiwanis Classic in his first year in the Grove.

The Lions won it again this year as he rewrote the book at the Kiwanis, where his team played in the championship game three out of four times.

Sanchez’s kids won the first boys playoff basketball game in 57 years at BG when his 2016 Lions ran by Lexington 96-72 in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

He left his mark all over the program, and leaves with a heavy heart.

“It was an incredible four years from the beginning to the end,” he said Thursday afternoon. “It’s hard to leave Blooming Grove. They hold a special place in my heart.

“We did so much here, winning the first playoff game in 57 years, and winning the Kiwanis twice. Accomplishing things like that were big for us.

“But there’s a time when you have to do what’s best for your family.”

Sanchez is moving up to Class 5A San Antonio Southwest High School, where he will be an assistant head coach.

“I’ll miss the Grove,’’ he said. “The people are great in Blooming Grove. It’s a great community, the administrators, the kids, everyone here ...

“I felt like we got the program in the right direction. I hope they keep building the program.”