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Seniors make season special for Brookhaven Academy coach

In 28 years of coaching, Dale Watts has won enough basketballtrophies and championships to fill a large pickup truck. The2002-03 campaign proved to be extra special for Watts. His latestBrookhaven Academy boys basketball team marched to the Class AAState Tournament championship and chalked up a 31-2 record.

For his accomplishments, Watts has been selected the DAILYLEADER’S Coach of the Year on the All-Lincoln County BoysBasketball Team. This is the fifth time in the last nine years forhim to bag the coaching honor.

Watts, 49, credits his seven seniors with making the campaignextra special. “This senior group was exceptional. At the start ofcamp last summer I told our seniors I wanted them to take over theleadership role on the team and I would just coach. Every one ofthem had to handle different situations on this team.”

Of the seven seniors, four of them started. The seven includeCraig Smith, Alan Oster, Layne Moreton, Jimmy Latham, Cole Smith,Trey Waldrop and Tyler Holland.

The Cougars were a powerhouse in the Mississippi Private SchoolAssociation, dominating most of their opponents. They ran off 28straight victories before losing to Presbyterian Christian Schoolof Hattiesburg in the South State AA finals. They regrouped and wonthe state title the next week. In the Overall Tournament’squarterfinals, they lost a triple-overtime thriller to HillcrestChristian, the eventual champion.

“I can honestly say that this is a tremendous honor for me,”said Watts. “It comes from the community. Lincoln County has atremendous basketball tradition.”

In his ninth season at Brookhaven Academy, Watts has enjoyedmany outstanding campaigns. A Marion County native, he attendedImprove School and graduated from Columbia Academy in 1971. Hegraduated from the University of Southern Mississippi and began hiscoaching career at Centreville Academy in 1975.

“I enjoy coaching as much right now as I did in ’75,” saidWatts. “My priorities have changed but I still love the game. Thiswas my first regular season to go undefeated.”

Watts said Brookhaven Academy was an ideal place to coachbasketball because of the fan support. “You’ve got to be in theright location. You can have good athletes and a good team but youstill must be in a community that loves and appreciates basketball.I’m very fortunate to be blessed.”

He is married to the former Lucy Rawls of Sumrall and they havetwo sons, Josh, a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi;and Jonathan, a junior at Brookhaven Academy. They are members ofthe First Baptist Church of Summit, where Watts serves as adeacon.

Recognized as an intense coach with plenty of enthusiasm, Wattsdemands much from his players. The Cougars rely on a full-courtpress and man-to-man defense most of the time.

In his spare time, Watts trains racking and Tennessee Walkerhorses at his farm in Summit. His two sons work with him at PioneerStables.