With 17 varsity basketball coaching seasons to his name, Pete Harames, already well into his 60s, thought he’d had his fill of schooling from the prep hardwood.
“I had no intention [of coaching again],” Harames said if being seemingly at ease in retirement from Capuchino High School in San Bruno, a retirement already a decade in the making since 2000. “I had already done that. Been there. Did it.”
Perhaps so. But Harames had never won a Central Coast Section title.
That was until last season, when in his first as the Burlingame boys’ basketball coach, Harames took the Panthers to the CCS Division III final against Santa Cruz and won his school’s first CCS basketball crown.
“Well, I coached 100 years before that,” joked Harames, 68. “But yeah, that’s a pretty hard thing to top.”
In his second season spearheading the Panthers — who are off to a 4-1 start — Harames has seven returning seniors, but will rely on the senior duo of point guard Frankie Ferrari and center Nick Loew to repeat last season’s feat of going unbeaten in Peninsula Athletic League play, capturing a CCS crown and reaching the state playoffs, where the Panthers lost by eight points to Campolindo (Moraga).
“We were right in that game,” Harames said. “We had a good team. We wanted to make [winning CCS] the highlight.”
Ferrari is retransferring to Burlingame from Riordan in The City and Loew has been on varsity since his freshman year. But Harames’ starting five is hardly set.
“We have a number of players through the preseason that will compete for those other three positions,” he said. “So I don’t know yet. But we think we have enough good players to fill in.”
Fill in is what Harames did in 2010 at the urging of longtime friend and Burlingame assistant Rob Ennis.
On random chance, Harames encountered Ennis while picking up his daughter from a soccer game.
“It just happened that that day, they were interviewing for a freshman coach,” Harames said. “I slept on it. I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night. But I said, ‘That might be nice.’”
A year later, the junior varsity coaching slot was open. And Harames filled it. And a year after that, the varsity slot was likewise open. Harames filled it.
“Those freshman kids really re-energized me,” he said. “So I wasn’t that reluctant when they asked me to do the varsity.”
Prior coach Jeff Dowd built a successful program that Harames inherited. And it was Dowd and his kids who Harames credits with last season’s success.
“They had a great run,” Harames said of Dowd’s regime. “Quality program, so it wasn’t difficult at all [to take over]. I say it was totally the kid’s good program. I didn’t screw ’em up.”