Gray, BA traditon run deep

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 21, 2005

Basketball tradition runs deep at Brookhaven Academy. The schoolhas been called the Duke University of Mississippi Private SchoolAssociation basketball.

With Barry Gray at the helm of BA’s girls basketball fortunes,the respect and tradition continues to grow. His Lady Cougars wontheir fourth straight Class AA state tournament championship thisseason. For his accomplishments Gray has been selected The DAILYLEADER’s Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

Gray 42, graduated from BA in 1981 after helping the Cougars wina state tournament title. He graduated from Ole Miss in 1985. Hecoached at Winston Academy and Grenada Kirk before returning to hisalma mater.

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Besides bossing varsity girls basketball, Gray stays busy withother coaching and administrative duties. He teaches biology andserves as athletic director. He also coaches junior high football,golf and junior high girls basketball.

Gray is in his 10th year at BA. He has won 6 state championshipsand 1 Overall crown, going 43-0 last season.

“My assistant coaches deserve a lot of credit,” said Gray. Hiswife, Lindy, and Cheri Lu Altman work as assistant coaches. Theyboth played college basketball.

“They do a really good job with our team,” said Gray.

Looking back on the season, Gray said, “We were playing reallywell the last half of the season. Everyone played unselfish. Eventhough we weren’t as deep as some of my previous teams, we weresuccessful.”

Gray’s girls lost 54-50 to Greenwood Pillow in the quarterfinalsof the MPSA Overall Tournament at Mississippi College in Clinton.Pillow went on to claim the title.

“We had some really big wins,” said Gray. ” Winning state againfor a fourth time was great. Then we beat Jackson Prep 20 points intheir gym. We beat Leake at East Rankin and Delta in the finals ofour tournament.”

Gray has five seniors on his team, including Allyson Picket,Kristian Davison, Kelli Byrd, Lauren Smith and Mallory Logan.Pickett was a top reserve while the other four seniors started mostgames. Junior forward Emily Langley filled the other startingspot.

“My five seniors are a special group and we got great leadershipfrom them,” said Gray. “They will be hard to replace because theyset such a high standard of excellence for our program.”

Four of his seniors have been offered college basketballscholarships. Apparently, Davidson is the only player interested inplaying at a higher level.

“I was really encouraged that a AA school with under 500enrollment has four girls offered scholarships,” said Gray.

Gray admits those five seniors leave some large shoes to fill.However, he’s optimistic about the massive rebuilding effortahead.

“We have a lot of good young players left in our program,” saidGray. “I know they will work hard to carry on the championshiptradition.”

Gray said he has about 16 girls coming out for next season’shigh school team. “We should be very athletic and a good reboundingteam. I just don’t know yet where the offense will come from. Itwill be a good blend of youth and experience.”

At BA, Gray said organized school athletics begin in fifthgrade. “We try to make sure we have a lot of participation. We wantto make sure that everybody gets to play. They usually play 10-12games a year.”

From the eighth grade through their senior year, Gray’s girlseat, drink, sleep and play basketball most of the year. Besides ademanding offseason program, he schedules over 30 games during thesummer, plus several basketball camps.

According to Gray, it requires a community effort to keep theprogram at a high level. “We have the best community support in thestate. Our administration and booster club help make itsuccessful.”

Since his return to BA, Gray said the experience has beenspecial to him and his family. “It’s been a blessing from the Lord.It’s been like a storybook. Everything has been very smooth. We’vehad great athletes and good people to work with.”

“We have had a lot of really good kids and the Lord has blessedour efforts together.”

Family roots run deep at BA. Gray and his wife have a son, Alan,a junior point guard on BA’s state championship team. A youngerson, Alex, is in fourth grade.

They are members of Brookhaven First Baptist Church, Gray servesas vice-chairman of the deacon body.

In his free time, Gray enjoys spending time with his family andplaying golf.

His father, John Gray, is headmaster at Adams County ChristianSchool. The elder Gray coached the ACCS Lady Rebels to the District3-AA championship and a runners-up finish in South State, winning25 games.

Obviously, basketball success is a family tradition.