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Rivera to lead Blue Tide boys basketball program
Long County-Rivera
New Tide boys basketball head coach Ricardo Rivera Sr. played for the Blue Tide from 2005-09 before playing professionally in Colombia and the Dominican Republic after college.

For the first time since 2017, the Long County Blue Tide boys basketball team will be under new leadership.

At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Long County approved alumnus and Tide assistant coach Ricardo Rivera as the new head coach of the boys team.

Rivera will take over for seven-year head coach Reggie Wilkes, who stepped down after the season to focus on his new role as athletic director and assistant principal at the high school. Rivera said his feelings boil down to just one word: “Ecstatic.”

“It’s already been surreal that I got to come home and coach as it is, much less be a head coach,” Rivera said. “It’s pretty cool. I still got pictures and stuff. Still see banners and trophies that I won as a student. It’s kind of the same goal to do those things as a coach now.”

Wilkes had a lot of positive things to say about Rivera, who coached under Wilkes during the 2023-24 season as an assistant.

“I’m excited about the opportunity for (Rivera),” Wilkes said. “You know, he’s young. He brings a new energy to the game, to the team. I know he’s gonna do well. He’s offensively and defensively-minded.”

As far as Rivera’s roots, Wilkes believes that he will fit right back in at Long County.

“With him being from here, it’s going to be great for the community,” Wilkes said. “He can connect to them and knows right where they’re coming from because he’s lived here. He’s from here. I know he’s going to do great things and I’m glad that he’s the one taking over. I wish him the best and am always going to be supportive of whatever he wants.”

Wilkes leaves some big shoes to fill for Rivera. In seven seasons at Long County, Wilkes was 124-70, made the playoffs every season, won two region championships, played for three more region titles, and led the team to two Sweet Sixteen and two Elite Eight appearances.

Rivera knows the challenge and is ready to step on the baseline with his team.

“Being that I was able to coach alongside Coach Wilkes, I was kind of able to see how he does that with the kids that he’s had, I kind of just want to keep it going,” Rivera said. “I want to maybe add some of the old coaching and playing styles from when I was here, kind of get the best of both worlds.”

Rivera played for the Blue Tide from 2005-09 and helped lead the team to three playoff appearances, a region championship and an Elite Eight appearance in 2008, the last one until 2020.

He played football at Savannah State University before transferring and switching to basketball at Middle Georgia College and eventually ending up at Voorhees College, where he won a conference championship. After graduation, he played professionally in Colombia and the Dominican Republic before beginning his teaching career.

He took over as the head coach at Mitchell County in 2018 and spent four seasons there, going 56-36 and making three Sweet Sixteen appearances before spending the 2022-23 season as an assistant girls coach at Pelham High School and going 21-7 with an Elite Eight appearance.



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