Thursday, May 23, 2013
Thompson named Coach of Year
By BARRY BURLESON
It’s a huge individual award for Jason Thompson but all his Lady Lions share in it, too.
The H.W. Byers basketball coach has been named Girls Coach of the Year by the Mississippi Association of Coaches, for all classifications (1A-6A).
He will receive the award June 28 during a banquet in Jackson.
“It came out of the blue, as a total shock,” Thompson said. “I’m honored they picked a country boy like me. It’s a wonderful feeling to get recognized for the hard work and achievements. I’m thankful.
“But it’s a group effort – myself and the players. We’re together. We can’t do it without each other. I don’t want to take all the credit and say it’s all about me.”
Thompson, a 1993 graduate of H.W. Byers, has built a girls basketball dynasty at his alma mater on Highway 72 in north Marshall County.
His Lady Lions have won five state championships in six seasons – two in Class 2A and three in 1A.
“I’ve been blessed with very good kids and great talent,” Thompson said. “They take what they’re taught and make the best of it.”
He just completed his 12th season at Byers. The Lady Lions are 187-27 the past six years and 297-103 over Thompson’s 12-year span.
Their first-ever trip to Mississippi Coliseum for the state tournament came in 2007. They’ve been every year since. The Lady Lions’ first state crown came in 2008.
“It was a developmental process,” he said. “We took our lumps and bruises in the early years. But the kids bought into what I was teaching and we were able to come together and get some good things going.”
The Lady Lions, under Thompson’s leadership, have claimed six straight district crowns (regular season and tournament). Byers has also won four North State championships and two runner-up trophies.
“Each year brings a new challenge,” Thompson said. “They’re all different teams. We typically graduate two to four.
“Like right now – I will have 10 kids back, but four great players going on who have all signed college scholarships.”
Those are Sha’Dae Nolen (Mississippi Valley State University), Madison McCreless (Blue Mountain), Justice Martin (Itawamba Community College) and Precious Rogers (East Mississippi Community College).
Thompson has sent many players, who excel both in the classroom and on the court, to the college ranks over the years.
“They’re smart and they work hard,” he said.
It’s not the first award for Coach Thompson. He has been named the Clarion-Ledger Coach of the Year, the Daily Journal Coach of the Year and the Northeast Mississippi Coaches Association Coach of the Year twice.
But this one is the most special because it’s coming from his peers, statewide.
“Absolutely, this is a huge honor,” Thompson said. “I will be a little nervous (at the banquet) but excited, too.”
Next season Byers will move back up to Class 2A, after four years in Class 1A that included three consecutive state girls basketball championships.
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