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Harrell’s Tigers enjoy success

McComb Tiger boys basketball coach Hilton Harrell has achieve alot this season. Led by standout center Jackie Butler and guard D.J. Carr, Harrell’s Tigers went all the way to the semifinals of theClass 4A state tournament before falling to Lanier in a 27-pointloss.

McComb ended the season with a 32-5 record.

For his achievements, Harrell has been selected as the DailyLeaders’ All Area Boys Basketball Coach of the Year for the2001-2002 campaign.

The 6-foot-4 Harrell grew up in Amite County. He is a 1976graduate of Liberty Central and played basketball during his highschool years. Harrell played forward.

“We made it to the state playoffs,” said Harrell. “Wefinished No 2 in our district.” In high school, he was honored asthe Most Improved Player. Ernest Dunlap was his high schoolcoach.

Harrell next went to Southwest Mississippi Community Collegein Summit where he played for Oliver Young. Harrell was namedAll-State and played in the All-Star game.

“I averaged 24 points my sophomore year,” said Harrell. Hewas also named Most Valuable Player.

Coach Young also proved to have a permanent effect onHarrell and his life. According to Harrell, Young talked him out oftaking welding and concentrating on basketball. He told Harrell hewas capable of playing on a higher level.

“I listened to him,” Harrell stated. “I thank God Idid.”

After graduation from Southwest, Harrell headed toMississippi College where he left his mark in the Division IIbasketball. His coach was Doug Hinds.

Harrell was named MVP his junior year at MC and team captainhis senior year. “We were winners each year and went to theplayoffs.”

Harrell led the Division II in the nation for 25 weeks witha scoring average of 31 points per game. It hasn’t beenbroken.

He graduated with a bachelor of science degree.

In 1981, Harrell signed a professional basketball deal withthe Houston Rockets. He stayed there for three months before beingsent to the CBA’s Rochester Zenits where he played for the next twoyears.

Harrell then signed with Valencia Venezuela, a SouthAmerican team located in Trotomuda. He played for five yearsthere.

He returned to MC in 1988 and was an assistant coach toCoach Hinds, working as a graduate assistant for one year.

The next three years were spent at McLaurin High School ashead basketball coach. There he complied a 62-19 record. “We hadseveral good teams,” said Harrell.

In 1993, Harrell made his coaching debut at McComb where hehas been for the last eight years. His career record is 154 winsand 84 losses.

“We have had a couple of teams that have left theirmark.

We had a chance to start six years ago,” said Harrell of thecurrent team. “We worked in the summer programs. We put in ourphilosophy.”

Harrell said a game at Wingfield earlier this season broughthis team together. “The Wingfield game was a very pivotal game,”continued Harrell.”It was the most intense game we have played allyear. Jackie had fouled out in overtime. Our kids pulled it out,75-71. It built our confidence.”

Harrell and his wife, Twilla, were married in 1982. Theyhave three children, Jarrold, Jeremy and Jakayla.

Not only does he coach, Harrell also serves as pastor atPleasant Grove Missionary Baptist and Webb Chapel in AmiteCounty.