Zach Cole has officially became the third boys hoops coach at Cleveland High School, departing Santa Fe High School, where he’d been the boys basketball coach.

Cole, 125-64 over the past seven seasons with the Demons, succeeds Sean Jimenez, who resigned this spring.

Oddly, it may seem, Cole was the only one of five finalists who had not led a team to a state championship. The other four finalists were William Benjamin, Frank Castillo, Andrew Dunnell and Justin Woody.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Cole graduated from Española Valley High School in 1998 and began his coaching career as an assistant at Capital High in Santa Fe. He became the head coach at Santa Fe Indian School in 2012 and left there after two seasons with a 14-41 won-lost record, heading west to coach in Ramona, California, with his team there, going 41-19 in two seasons, 2014-16.

He returned to the City Different in 2016 to be the head coach for the Demons, who he took to the Class 5A title game in 2019, when they lost to Atrisco Heritage Academy. The Demons were 18-13 in the 2022-23 season, when they lost at Rio Rancho and to visiting Cleveland, then fell in the first round of the state tournament at West Mesa, 56-41.

“We watched him coach the last few years and were really impressed with what he’s done,” Rio Rancho Public Schools Executive Director of Athletics Bruce Carver said. “We can only give (the job) to one guy, and he’s the winner.”

Cole won at least 22 games three times at SFHS and had only one losing season (12-16 in 2017-18), when the late Fedonta “JB” White was a freshman.

Carver said the hiring committee was also impressed by Cole’s ability to take any talent level and “seems to maximize it. (And) his defensive philosophy is really sound. I think he’ll do really well.”