By John Pitts
BY JOHN WILBERT AND GENE PHELPS
JACKSON – Barry Kidd played for Norris Ashley’s first high school boys basketball state championship team in 1978.
Thirty-two years later, Kidd’s son, Clay, will be playing for Ashley’s fifth – and more than likely last – boys championship.
The 62-year-old coach said he is 90 percent sure that he will be retiring after this season.
Ingomar will have to get past McAdams – 68-65 winners over Myrtle, coached by Ashley’s son Jonathan, in Friday’s other MHSAA Class 1A semifinal – next Thursday in order for Ashley to win his ninth overall state title as both a boys and girls coach.
“Every single game we believe we can win because we’re underdogs, and that drives us to win,” said senior Clay Kidd, after scoring 10 points in Friday’s 70-56 state semifinal win over Durant.
Ashley’s ’78 team also went on to win the Grand Slam that year, and Barry Kidd has told his son that the longtime coach has calmed down considerably since then.
But that may be hard for the current Ingomar player to believe – he said Ashley is pretty intense as a coach in his 39th season at Ingomar.
With that being said, it does take some intensity to get one of the smallest high schools, in terms of enrollment, to be successful year in and year out.
“He knows what he’s doing and his record shows it,” Clay Kidd said of Ashley’s 1,662 wins and 830 losses as both a boys and girls coach. “I’m sure anybody would feel lucky to play for him.”
n West Lincoln coach Lane Young and his players had no answer for Myrtle’s bulky post player Aspirona Gilbert in Friday’s 57-30 state semifinals loss.
Gilbert, a six-footer, scored 23 points and had eight rebounds in one half.
“She’s the biggest girl we’ve played; we haven’t seen anybody her size,” Young said. “If I had somebody that size, with her hands, I’d throw it in there to her, too.
“We don’t have anybody who can match up with her.”
Hannah Knouse, one of the players assigned to Gilbert, said she never really guarded her one-on-one.
“It was tough and we had three and four on her,” she said. “I know it would have been tough to do by myself.”
Tough luck for Hawks
n This year’s senior players for the Myrtle High boys team have made it to the state tournament every year since their freshman seasons.
Unfortunately for them, they haven’t been able to win a state title.
Their freshman season, the Hawks lost 71-69 to East Oktibbeha in the Class 1A state title game.
Last year, they lost again by two points, to Coldwater, in the 1A championship game.
In 2008, Myrtle lost in the state semifinals, and on Friday, they lost once more in the semifinal round.
“I wish I knew,” Myrtle coach Jonathan Ashley said when asked about why his team had such misfortunes in Jackson. “Unfortunate circumstances and different things.”
Focus on McAdams
n McAdams coach Marvin McGee said he likes his team’s chances of defending its 1A girls state championship against Myrtle and its big gun, center Aspirona Gilbert.
“We’ve seen them play, they’re an OK team, productive,” McGee said. “We will focus on holding their big girl, but they’ve got to focus on holding our five players.”
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.
n New Site point guard Carleigh King suffered her second stinger in two weeks, injuring her right arm in the first half of Friday’s semifinal against Hinds AHS.
Lady Royals coach Byron Sparks said King, who didn’t play in second half, could have returned.
“We got the lead and thought we could finish without her,” he said. “The trainer said she could play or not play.”