Lakeland basketball sets anchors with new boys and girls coaches

July 31, 2020

Lakeland will turn the page on both its boys and girls basketball programs this season, finding two new head coaches to lead the respective teams.

Chris Keil takes over as the new boys coach, while Dale Gearheart will coach the girls. Both hirings were approved by the Lakeland School Corporation board on July 14.

Keil is no stranger to Lakeland, spending the last 12 years coaching youth, junior high and AAU teams.

Lakeland has won 7 games each of the last 2 years, last won a Northeast Corner Conference championship in 2010 and hasn’t won a sectional since 2008.

“Lakeland has had a good tradition over the years of good basketball program and community support,” Keil tells “We’re hoping to get things back to a winning mentality.”

chris keilKeil was an 1,000-point scorer at East Noble (class of 1990), and earned All-Northeast Hoosier Conference honors ten times in three different sports in high school. He was added to the East Noble Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

He played college basketball at Tri-State University, eclipsing the 1,000 career point mark and setting the still-standing Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference season steals record (355 in 1993-94). He was also All-Conference in men's golf.

“Throughout the interview process, Coach Keil detailed his plan create a fun and disciplined atmosphere within the program,” Lakeland athletic director Kyle Grossman said in a statement.

Keil carries a defense-first style of coaching, with the idea of gaining 10 to 12 more possessions per game that leads to more scoring.

“I’ve coached most of the sophomore class since their second grade,” Keil says. “I think we have the potential to be pretty good over the next 5 or 6 years.”



On the girls side of things, Dale Gearheart is excited about his new venture as the Lady Lakers head coach.

“I’ve been waiting a while to find another varsity basketball coaching job,” Gearheart tells "Basketball is one of my biggest passions. The biggest thing for me is to see improvement of skill level and basketball IQ,” he says.

dale gearheartWith 26 years in education, Gearheart has coached a variety of varsity, junior varsity and junior high sports at Marion, Blackford, Bluffton and Park View High School in Virginia. He was an assistant for the Marion boys basketball team that won the 4A state championship in 2016. He also has previously served as an athletic director in Virginia.

“Coach Gearheart excelled in explaining his basketball strategy, program building process, communication, and ability to relate and build relationships with his student athletes,” Grossman said.

Lakeland’s girls are 15-9 and 15-8 in each of the last two seasons; and Gearheart hopes that success stands as a good starting point for him to come in.  With Indiana schools reopening July 6, the Lady Lakers have had several workouts together so far.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about this group from teachers and last year’s coaches and my coaching staff coming in.”

Gearheart and his wife will make the move from Marion to the Lakeland community as empty-nesters, with their son entering his senior year of college and their daughter now enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.

Gearheart graduated from Southern Wells High School and played collegiate basketball at Huntington College.

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