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For the last three months, the question of who will replace longtime West York boys' basketball coach Bill Ackerman has been on the minds of Bulldog fans.

Now that question has been answered.

On Tuesday, West York's school board approved the hire of Garrett Bull to head the boys' basketball program.

Bull, a 2004 Red Lion graduate, averaged more than 12 points per game as a senior for a Lions team that finished runner up in the District 3 playoffs and reached the state tournament. He went on to play at Juniata College.

He has been coaching the junior varsity team at Red Lion for the last five seasons, but jumped at the opportunity to step in at West York.

"West York has always had a pretty storied history and strong tradition in basketball," Bull said. "They have talent here to be very successful."

In his first varsity coaching job, Bull will be filling some rather large shoes. Ackerman, Bull's predecessor, went 348-133 while winning three league titles and a district title in 18 years.

"I'd be naive to say that wasn't on my mind," Bull said of the pressure taking over for such a long-tenured coach. "But taking over a program that coach Ackerman has built up over the last 18 years is really exciting to me. A lot of friends and family have asked if I'm nervous about taking over for Ackerman. I tell them I'd rather take over a program like his than a program that historically doesn't win. I'd rather fill his shoes than fill in at a school where basketball isn't that big of a deal."

Ackerman has helped the rookie coach transition into Bulldog territory, Bull said, by helping him run the West York youth camp and keeping in contact about returning players and talent coming up through the system.

"He's been fantastic," Bull said of Ackerman. "I think he really wants to see the program succeed so he was invested in the hiring process and hoping for a good hire. Both him and Frank (Hawkins) have been great."

Bull has already had a chance to see his future team in open gyms and summer leagues during the offseason. It took just a few minutes for them to impress the head coach.

"In my first open gym five weeks ago, I was the first one in there and I was amazed at how many kids walked up to me, shook my hand and introduced themselves as soon as they got there," Bull said. "It was amazing. I think it really shows the character at West York."

West York went 12-9 in 2015-2016 and lost to Berks Catholic in the first round of districts.

"Coach Bull is a great fit for West York because his coaching philosophy correlates with our philosophy; development of the student-athlete, with priority on academic excellence," West York athletic director Frank Hawkins said. "Being a teacher he understands the importance and priority of academics and as a coach he puts the same emphasis on the development of our athletes by ensuring the fundamentals are taught from the lower club levels through the entire school program. We are excited for this next chapter of West York basketball and the opportunities which lay ahead."

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