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Watts appreciates recognition

Brookhaven Academy’s Dale Watts has accumulated a small mountainof championship trophies during nearly 30 years of coaching boysbasketball. He’s also received a large portion of accolades for hiscoaching expertise, the latest being The DAILY LEADER’s All-LincolnCounty Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

“I’ve gotten coach of the year in a lot of things,” said Watts,age 51. “To me, coach of the year in Lincoln County isspecial.”

Watts coached the Cougars to a special season, winning the ClassAA State Tournament championship on their home turf, John R. GrayGymnasium. They finished 34-2, falling to Jackson Academy in theMPSA Overall Tournament.

“This has been the most surprising team that I ever coached,”said Watts. “I knew we would be pretty good but I really didn’texpect us to accomplish what they did. We had some very goodbasketball players.”

Watts pointed to his young team’s difficult November scheduleagainst Class AAA powers Hillcrest, Jackson Academy, CentralPrivate and Jackson Prep. The Cougars only lost to JA.

“These kids made believers out of me in November,” said Watts.”It was fun.”

Watts usually started one senior in guard/forward Cole Hodges,the DL’s Player of the Year. The junior starters included guardsJeremy Winborne and Alan Gray, forward Seth Davis and sophomoreguard T-Boy Lynch.

“We had to take a different approach this season because wedidn’t have a big post player,” Watts explained. “We had to findways to get to the basket. We could face the basket and score butwe couldn’t turn and take it in.”

Running, rebounding and full-court pressing, shooting anddefending, the Cougars relied heavily on team play. Lack of depthwas their only weakness.

“Our team was blessed,” said Watts. “We had limited injuries andno illness. Our weakness was depth.”

What is Watts’ secret to success?

“We try to be mentally tough and play hard defense,” answeredWatts. “Basketball is a physical game with a lot of contact. Wework on foot speed and positioning.”

Watts believes in keeping turnovers to a minimum. “Ninetypercent of the time, points are controlled by hands.”

A team motto Watts firmly believes in. “Move your feet and youwon’t get beat.”

Watts began his coaching career at Centreville Academy in 1975,spending two seasons at Centreville. He enjoyed exceptional successat McComb Parklane, winning a pair of Overall titles in 1982 and1990. After a brief hiatus from coaching, Watts returned and begancoaching at Brookhaven Academy in 1994 where he has won two AAstate championships.

Watts said the community and administrative support he receivesis exceptional. He coaches on a part-time basis, arriving at schoolaround noon each day.

His full-time vocation is Pioneer Stables, located north ofSummit. He trains and shows Tennessee Walking horses.

“The most pressure I face is at those horse shows,” said Watts.”The owners have an investment and they want to see results.Coaching basketball is a lot of fun. It’s relaxing.”

Watts and his wife, Lucy, have two sons, Josh and Jonathan, whoassist with the training and riding of horses. Josh’s wife, Olivia,also helps the business function.

Coach Watts serves as a deacon at First Baptist Church ofSummit.