Skyline head basketball coach James Capriotti has stepped down from his position leading the Coyotes and will join the coaching staff at PHH Prep.
Capriotti will become co-head coach alongside former Mountain Pointe head basketball coach Kirk Fauske, who led the Pride for one season before joining PHH Prep, which was formed by John Ortega in 2019.
“I’ve been close with coach Fauske and coach (John) Ortega for years and they followed the (Skyline) program really close this year and we just got,” Capriotti said. “I hate to say they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse but he just said everything that was right.”
Capriotti was hired to take over the Skyline basketball program in 2015, inheriting a team that had just one winning season since 2004-05. During that stretch, the Coyotes never reached the postseason.
Skyline won just three games in Capriotti’s first season, but immediately turned things around. A 12-14 record in his second season turned into a 14-13 record in his third. In 2018-19, Capriotti led the Coyotes to a 19-8 record and the program’s first playoff appearance.
With several key returning starters this year, Skyline finished the 2019-20 season 27-3 overall and made it to the 6A semifinals before losing to eventual champion Desert Vista. Capriotti was named the 6A East Valley Region Coach of the Year. Dayton Harris, Skyline’s Northern Arizona-bound point guard and Capriotti’s stepson from a previous marriage, was named region player of the year and received first-team all-conference honors.
Skyline seniors Tanner Poeschl and Tyree Tyler, as well as junior Patrick Herrera, received first-team all-region honors. Dominic Capriotti, James’ son, received second-team all-region honors.
“It’s almost hard to put in words,” Capriotti said when reflecting on his time at Skyline. “I had probably the best kids and parents supporting my vision. Our success came directly from those kids. From day one, those kids were hungry to win, they just needed the direction. They were all in from the day I stepped on campus.
“What we were able to build there, I look back on it and it’s amazing. Twenty years of never making the playoffs. Twenty years of never sending very many kids to college and never winning region championships. We end the era going undefeated in our region and doing all of those things. We wouldn’t have done any of that without those kids and those parents being all in.”
Capriotti and Fauske will both coach PHH Prep’s red and blue national teams. According to Fauske, he will stand for one of the teams while Capriotti will do the same for the other.
Fauske said the decision to bring Capriotti on to the staff was an easy one. In many ways, they share the same coaching philosophy, with a defense-first mentality.
“Coach Ortega and I are extremely excited,” Fauske said. “We knew we were going to continue to grow and have more teams and more competitive teams. We discussed who would be the best fit with our personalities and the way we play. The first name that came up was coach Cap.
“I went and watched some of his games and I loved his style.”
Dominic will join his father at PHH Prep, playing for one of two national teams comprised of Arizona players. Dominic averaged 12.6 points 1.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game as a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard.
Capriotti sees it as a unique opportunity to not only help Dominic improve on the court but receive more exposure for college programs across the country.
“For players like my son Dominic, I see the prep scene being a huge advantage for him,” Capriotti said. “The schedule they play and the competition they play is only going to make him better.
“It’s just a great opportunity.”