Friday, March 26, 2010

Lake Norman's Jolly NC AP coach of the year; Butler's Butler runner-up

Brandon Jolly didn't want his Lake Norman team to blow its chance of winning a state championship. His team responded with a dominating run to close the season and make him the 2009-10 Associated Press men's prep basketball coach of the year for North Carolina.

Jolly earned seven of a possible 22 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Thursday to win the award. Monroe's Johnny Sowell was second with five votes after leading his program to its first state title in 20 years, while Kinston's Wells Gulledge was third with four votes after winning his second title in three seasons.

Jolly led his team to a 27-3 record despite being picked to finish third in its league. The program had never been past the sectional round before this season's run, which ended with a win against Fayetteville Sanford in the Class 4-A final.

"They were hungry right from the get-go," Jolly said. "They were hurt and upset from the Concord loss last year (in the sectionals) so they were driven all year. They had been working hard since April of last year to get to this point."

Jolly had seven of his top 10 players coming back from last year, so he knew his team was positioned for a strong season behind AP All-State pick Paul Larsen and Reggie Price. But the team lost starting guard Matt Denyes for the second half of the season, forcing sixth man Brian Whalen into the starting lineup and cutting into the team's depth.

"We could've taken a turn for the worst, but we had some guys really step up and do a great job for us," Jolly said.

Before the final, Jolly had told his players they might never get another chance at winning a state championship, so they had to take advantage of the opportunity. Lake Norman trailed 41-40 heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring Sanford 23-5 to close out the title run.

"I still don't think myself or the boys have come down off that high," Jolly said. "I haven't been able to go back and watch the game yet on TV because I've been so busy. I'm looking forward to watching the game on TV when nobody's bothering me and I can just watch it and soak it all in."

Kernersville Bishop McGuinness coach Brian Robinson won the AP girls coach of the year award in a season where he just hoped his team would make the playoffs. His team won its fifth straight 1A title.

Robinson earned seven of a possible 22 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Thursday. That was one vote better than Matthews Butler's Stephanie Butler, who led her team to the Class 4-A title, while Gastonia Forestview's Ken Beaty was third with four votes after leading his program to the 3-A crown.


Anonymous said...

The Butler coach had 3 d-1 players (all transfers) and couldn't win the conference regular season title. Come on!