Thursday, June 30, 2011
Byhalia picks veteran coach for basketball
By BARRY BURLESON
For the fourth time in five years, Byhalia has a new boys basketball coach.
Directing the Indian attack next season will be Todd Hutchinson, 47, a veteran of the coaching wars who has plenty of playoff experience.
“I know it’s been tough on the kids – no continuity,” he said. “There’s talent there and kids coming back who have played.
“I’m looking forward to working with everybody there. The community wants a winner, just like I do. There will be some changes. Everybody will have to be patient.”
Hutchinson is a native of Blue Mountain. He attended Northeast Community College and graduated from Mississippi State University in 1988.
He was a student assistant coach at MSU from 1985-88, working for both Bob Boyd and Richard Williams, and served as an assistant at East Mississippi Community College from 1988-90 under John Stroud. Then he moved to Belhaven and Millsaps as an assistant.
He became a high school head coach in 1993 and has made several stops since.
“I didn’t plan it that way,” Hutchinson said, “but that’s the way it happened.”
Most recently he was the head coach at Grenada High School from 2004-09 and had tons of success. The big school Chargers won the division and advanced all the way to the state semi-finals in 2006 and won the division again in 2009. He was named Division 3-5A Coach of the Year four times.
“Grenada had not gotten out of district in seven years, had not won the division in 13 years and had not been to Jackson in 19 years,” Hutchinson said. “In my second year there, we went to Jackson and the next three we either won the division or was runner-up.
“I’ve had a lot of good, dedicated players and because of that I’ve been very successful.”
He also coached the North squad in the Mississippi Association of Coaches all-star game in 2008.
He left Grenada and moved to Saltillo for family reasons. In 2009-10 he was the head coach at Kossuth High School and the Aggies made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. But due to budget cuts, he lost his job there and did not coach this past school year.
“I’m excited about being at Byhalia,” Hutchinson said. “I know about the tradition of Byhalia boys basketball from growing up in Tippah County. It’s a great opportunity for me to go to a quality school.”
He has started getting to know his new team through summer league competition.
“The kids are working hard,” he said. “I have to understand the kids’ talents first and then I can instill what I think they need to win.
“I’m old school. We’re going to guard and rebound, and when we get the basketball, we’re going to take care of it.”
Byhalia, after two years in Class 4A, moves back to Class 3A this year. Its division opponents will include Charleston, Independence, M.S. Palmer, North Panola and Winona.
“If we come together as a team, we will have the opportunity to have a very good year,” Hutchinson said.
Michael Neal replaced a long-time and very successful Byhalia coach, Charles Gillespie, in 2007-08. Neal led the team two seasons before resigning just prior to the start of the 2009-10 school year. Athletic director and head football coach Markeith Washington also coached the basketball team that season. Donald Bryant was hired a year ago and coached the Indians just one season.
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