Ephrata has found its new varsity boys basketball coach. And it might be a somewhat familiar name to those in Lancaster-Lebanon League hoops circles. At its Monday meeting, the Ephrata School Board approved Scott Gaffey as the next Mountaineers skipper.
Gaffey, 25, is the son of Mike Gaffey, whose 30-year coaching career includes a five-year stretch at Annville-Cleona from 2003 to 2008.
A native of Palmyra in Lebanon County, Scott Gaffey comes to Ephrata after having spent his last two years as the head coach at Mifflin County in the Mid-Penn Conference. It was his first stint as a head coach.
“When I had gone to Mifflin, while I was committed to being there my main goal was to get back closer to home,” Gaffey said. “I feel like Ephrata is the place to do that. It’s closer to home and closer to family.”
Gaffey was a standout guard at Harrisburg Christian, posting 636 career points and guiding the Crusaders to their first state tournament appearance when he was a senior in the 2013-14 campaign.
He attended St. Bonaventure (New York) University the next four years, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education.
Throughout his collegiate years, he split his time as a student and an assistant basketball coach, breaking down game film when he was at school, and helping out at practices and games when home over winter break.
In 2014-15, Gaffey helped his dad, who has been coaching at Bishop McDevitt since 2014. Gaffey spent the next two seasons at Manheim Central under the direction of Chris Sherwood, a descendant of the Mike Gaffey coaching tree.
“I was always watching film from the games and then talking to my dad or Chris Sherwood,” Scott Gaffey said. “Also doing a lot of scouting of upcoming teams that they were going to play and writing up scouting reports. I spent a ton of time on Hudl and on the phone.”
As a senior in 2017-18, Gaffey served as an assistant at Portville Central in New York, where he completed his student teaching.
He became a head coach the next year at Mifflin County, a Class 6A program that has struggled for several years while competing in the highly-competitive Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division.
“I definitely needed and wanted to get head coaching experience,” Gaffey said. “Mifflin County just happened to be one of the places open. I knew it would be a huge challenge and huge step, coaching against. ... Some of the best coaches in central Pennsylvania.”
Mifflin County went a combined 1-42 the last two seasons.
“I think I learned just how important it is to build relationships with everyone involved in the process,” Gaffey said of his time at Mifflin County. “Being as an assistant for my dad and Sherwood I got drilled into me the x’s and o’s and scouting reports. But being a head coach you learn about community engagement and everyone involved in the process.”
Gaffey takes over an Ephrata team that went 0-22 last season. But previous coach Jonathan Treese proved the Mounts can be a winner when he guided them to the L-L semifinals and district playoffs in 2018. Gaffey will be Ephrata’s fourth coach in seven years.
“The offense is going to be playing with pace,” Gaffey said. “And really sharing and moving the ball and making the extra pass. We’ll spread the floor, ball screens, dribble-drive kick-outs, get people involved that way. ...defensively it’ll be man-to-man primarily. But we’ll mix it up based on scouting reports. I really want us to get after people and pressure people.”
Gaffey said he will begin the academic year teaching at Mifflin County until the school district can find his replacement, at which point he'll take on a long-term substitute position at Palmyra.
Gaffey will be one of three new L-L boys basketball head coaches next season. Lee Eckert was recently hired at Elizabethtown. Conestoga Valley is still searching for its next coach.