Hank Plona's four seasons as head coach at Indian Hills have resulted in more than 100 victories and have all ended with the Warriors playing in the NJCAA National Tournament. IHCC has also claimed four consecutive ICCAC regular-season championships (tying for first in 2018-19), three postseason conference titles and a pair of district championships. Plona last season became the third Indian Hills coach to record at least 100 wins and by doing so in his 114th game he was the fastest to reach that milestone.
Plona had a busy summer in 2019 when he was chosen for two prestigious coaching assignments. He was one of the court coaches for the USA basketball men's U19 National Team's training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., the only junior college coach to be picked. Then, he was selected as one of six coaches for the JA45 event in Florida that brought together some of the top players from two-year schools in the nation. It was the second year in a row for Plona to coach in that showcase.
Indian Hills last year boasted two NJCAA All-Americans in Tomas Woldetensae and Torrey Patton. Plona has coached five All-Americans in his first four years, along with 20 all-region performers. A total of 38 of his players have moved on from IHCC to four-year schools and last year six of those former Warriors played professionally.
Plona, a one-time IHCC assistant coach, was hired in April 2015 to become the ninth head basketball coach on the IHCC Ottumwa campus. Under his leadership Indian Hills has a record of 118-18 for a .868 winning percentage, a mark that includes a 77-6 ledger at the Hellyer Center. His overall record against league foes is 36-4.
Two of Plona's IHCC teams have averaged over 90 points a game, including a 95.7 scoring average his initial season. Plona has emphasized three-point shooting as part of his offense and his teams have posted three of the top four 3-point totals in program history. Last year's squad made 334 3s.
In the 2018-19 season, Indian Hills finished 27-7 and was 7-1 in league play. They split two games at the NJCAA National Tournament after earning the tradition-rich program's sixth straight berth in the tourney, including four in a row under Plona. The Warriors tied for the regular-season ICCAC crown and averaged just a shade under 90 points a game. They were ranked in all 12 national polls during the season and have now been rated in 48-of-49 polls since Plona took over as head coach.
The Warriors had an undefeated regular season in 2017-18 and were ranked No. 1 in the country the final three national polls. They captured the conference regular-season and postseason titles and won the district championship game against North Dakota State College of Science to qualify for the national tourney where they were the top seed. IHCC lost a heartbreaking overtime game to Barton (Kans.) at Hutch.
Indian Hills had 29-5 records in each of Plona's first two seasons in charge of the program and his first squad, in 2015-16, had 12 players move on to four-year schools.
Plona brought championship experience to Indian Hills when he took over as head coach after a very successful stint at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, where he was an assistant for Hall of Fame coach Steve Green. South Plains made three national tournament appearances in Plona's four years at SPC, winning the national title in 2012 with an undefeated record and losing in overtime in the championship game of the 2015 tourney.
The Texans were 116-21 during Plona's time on the sidelines and two of the losses, both by a point, came in head-to-head matchups with Indian Hills, one in the national tournament and the other at the Hellyer Center.
Plona joined the IHCC staff as an assistant coach for the 2010-11 season, a year when the Warriors finished 23-10. Before arriving at Indian Hills for his first stint, he spent a year as an assistant at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.
The alumnus of Providence College served as an undergraduate student manager and a graduate assistant coach under Keno Davis while at PC. He earned a bachelor's degree and later added a master's of business administration degree from the Rhode Island school.