By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
For the second straight season an Ashley-coached team has eliminated Jacky Rowsey’s Biggersville Lions from the postseason.
Tuesday night’s 61-58 North Tournament opening-round loss to Jonathan Ashley’s Myrtle squad, however, holds more significance in the eyes of Rowsey and the Biggersville boys basketball program.
That’s the last ballgame the 53-year-old Rowsey will coach.
“I’m retiring at the end of the (school) year,” said the Biggersville coach, who amassed 569 wins against 350 losses and one state title. “I’ve been coaching for 30 years.”
After losing 72-54 last February to Norris Ashley’s eventual state champion Ingomar Falcons, the Lions once again are left with disappointment in the shortest month of the year. He has Norris’ son’s team to blame.
“I felt like we were capable of going to state and competing for it (the 1A state title),” Rowsey said of this year’s Lions club, who won the Division 1-1A title in dominating fashion. “I felt like we had a team that could play for it. We had speed, quickness, good shooting and even had decent size for 1A.
“It’s just one of those things that we didn’t get ’er done. The kids played hard. We just missed a few shots and kind of panicked a little bit, and Myrtle took advantage of it.”
For the first time in a while – so it seems – neither Biggersville or Ingomar will be playing in the North quarterfinals.
Rowsey – who, as a baseball coach, has even had postseason battles on the diamond with Norris Ashley’s Ingomar baseball club – said he’s not going to “pull a Norris Ashley” and continue to coach despite retiring from teaching.
“It was a long, hard decision for me,” said Rowsey, who is an avid hunter and is looking forward to a two-week long hunting trip in Colorado this fall. “I just felt like it was time to do so.”
Also soon to be stepping away from the coaching ranks after 30-plus seasons is longtime Okolona boys basketball coach Bobby Ford. Rowsey really likes the Chieftains’ title chances, among a few others.
“I saw Okolona play last year,” said Rowsey, who also coached at Thrasher for seven years. “I think Okolona will have a shot. Durant has always been competitive since I’ve been coaching. West Lincoln looks good again this year.
“If I had to pick one, I would go with Okolona. They’re talented, of course, and that (D.J.) Gardner kid is a threat by himself. That’s who I say would be in there.”
As the basketball season will eventually give way to the baseball season, Rowsey can say one thing about the two sports that not too many others can’t.
“A lot of people can’t say that they have won one in two different sports,” the longtime coach said about his two state titles – a baseball championship in 1994 and a basketball gold ball in 1996.
Not even Mississippi’s winningest coach in high school basketball, the great Norris Ashley.
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572