By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Katie Bates didn’t escape Roman Doty’s wrath when she played high school basketball for him at Pine Grove, but she did earn his respect with her work ethic.
“Katie was not only one of my best players, she was the hardest worker,” said Doty, now a school administrator. “She led by example. She left it on the floor every day at practice and in games.
“It’s great to see she’s carried that work ethic and those standards over to her coaching career.”
Bates, who led Ripley’s Lady Tigers to a fifth consecutive 20-win season and a berth in the Class 3A state semifinals, is the 2012-13 Daily Journal Girls Coach of the Year in Northeast Mississippi.
Pontotoc’s Bill Russell, New Site’s Byron Sparks and North Pontotoc’s Shane Montgomery were also considered for the award.
Ripley, which finished 29-5, had victories against former No. 1-ranked 6A state finalist Southaven, 6A Tupelo, 4A state semifinalist North Pontotoc and 2A state finalist New Site.
The Lady Tigers lost by two points to 4A state finalist Pontotoc and lost in their season opener to 2A state semifinalist Potts Camp.
“That (Potts Camp loss) got our attention right off the bat,” Bates said. “I’m glad we stumbled at the beginning and took off from there. We played our most challenging schedule this season. It prepared us to get us to where we wanted to be again … in the state tournament.”
Ripley entered the season without its inside force, Becca Ruckes, a Delta State signee. Bates also missed four games late in the season for the birth of her son, Bo, and for his illness that required a hospital stay in Memphis.
“The odds were against us,” Bates said. “It was tough at times. It affected the girls, not just me. It’s a credit to them and my assistant coaches, Regina Chills and Anna Hamilton. They held it together. They never lost sight of where we were going.
“I’m not going to take any credit. They kept it together, and in spite of all that, they won the division tournament.”
The win against Southaven during the Hickory Flat Invitational ranks as one of Bates’ top career wins in her six years in Ripley.
“That win was big for our program,” she said. “Our expectations are to win no matter who we play.”