Friday, March 30, 2012

Harding High's Anthony Jones is N.C. girls coach of the year

Harding High’s Anthony Jones is the N.C. Associated Press girls basketball coach of the year.

He’s the first from his school to win the award after leading the Rams to a 26-3 record and the school’s first state basketball championship -- for boys or girls.

“Man, that’s great,” he said Friday afternoon. “That’s quite an honor. It’s like, wow, that’s something that I wasn’t expecting. I’m just glad we won the state thing. Last year, I got ME-GA 7 (conference) coach of the year and I said, ‘I’d trade that for anything to win the state title.’ And now we’ve won state, and to get this on top of it is quite a blessing.”

Kirk Angel of Wilmington New Hanover County is the boys coach of the year. Angel received eight of a possible 22 votes from a statewide panel of media members, while Kinston's Wells Guthridge received seven. Gulledge, the AP men's coach of the year in 2008, led his program to its third state title in five seasons.

Angel led New Hanover to a 30-1 record and the Class 4-A championship, when New Hanover beat 2011 state champion West Charlotte.

On the girls side, Harding’s Jones had eight of 22 votes, while Brian Robinson
of Kernersville Bishop McGuinness received seven. Robinson, the AP girls’ coach of the year in 2010, led McGuinness to a record seventh straight state championship.

Jones, 46, played basketball at Spartanburg High and at UNC-Greensboro, where he graduated in 1988. He’s taught at Harding since 1995. He’s coached AAU and rec teams but this is his first head coaching job in high school.

Jones' award and championship came in his second year at Harding, which won two regional games and the 3A final against Burlington Williams by a combined 73 points.

Harding also won its eighth straight conference tournament title and captured the regional championship for the first time

“Isn't that something,” Jones said. “It’s quite a privilege to be recognized for such an award. It blows me away.”