By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
A familiar face will be taking over as head coach of the Whitley County Lady Colonel basketball team, as former assistant coach Donnie Jones has been named to replace former coach Larry Anderson, who retired after 26 years as the Lady Colonel coach.
Anderson won 474 games during his stay at Whitley County, which ranks 16th all-time. The Lady Colonels posted a 20-11 record this past season and advanced to the 13th Region Tournament semifinals before losing to Bell County, 65-56.
Whitley County will be one of the top teams in the region next season after graduating only two seniors.
“We’ve got a lot of talent returning and I’m excited to get things going,” Jones said. “It will be a disappointing season if we don’t win the region next year, in my mind.”
Jones has served as a volunteer coach in Colonel athletics for 20 years. He began his girls coaching experience in the Whitley County elementary school system, has served as the head middle school coach and has been Anderson’s top assistant for the past eight years.
“I’ve always wanted to coach,” Jones said. “It’s always been on my mind. It takes a lot of time, though, and once I got that lined out, I’ve finally got the opportunity. I’ve always wanted to do this. I’ve always wanted to be a head coach.”
Whitley County Superintendent Scott Paul is excited what Jones has to offer.
“I can’t imagine finding a better person to lead our program than Donnie,” he said. “He knows the girls, he knows the school and he knows basketball. In addition, he’s been successful at every level in our system and I expect him to continue to keep Whitley County among the best programs in the state.”
Jones admitted his main goal is to guide Whitley County to its first 13th Region title since 1985.
“That has been the goal in the past, it’s my goal now,” he said. “I believe we can be competitive statewide. Injuries really slowed us down last year. We’ve got everything in place to get it done.”
Jones said to expect his teams to play an up-tempo style of play on offense and a lot of full court pressure on defense.
“That’s my intentions right now,” he said. “On offense, I want to push things more. It doesn’t matter if it’s throwing the ball in or what, we want to run with the ball more.
“I’d like to get started today, but we’ll wait until the summer to get going,” Jones added. “I’ve been around this for 20 years and I’m ready to get started.”