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Lawrence County honors Lee

MONTICELLO — Recognized for his 34 years of coachingbasketball, Lawrence County’s Bobby Lee was honored Tuesday nightprior to the start of the varsity boys game. LCHS principal DarylScoggin read a long list of Lee’s coaching accomplishments andpresented Lee with a plaque.

Lee, 55, received a standing ovation from the crowd. His Cougarsresponded with a hard-fought 59-46 victory over archrivalBrookhaven in a Division 6-4A showdown.

“I appreciate the players and all the hard work they’ve done,”said Lee. He also praised the faculty and community for theirsupport over the years.

Lee’s Cougars have won three state championships, bringing homethe gold basketball trophy in 1991, 1992 and 1995. He has receivednumerous awards for his accomplishments. He has a 547-381career-record.

Lee began his coaching career at New Hebron High School in 1972,shortly after marrying his wife Alice on June 9. They have twogrown daughters, Dawn, who lives in Hattiesburg; and Cassandra, whois married and lives in Brandon.

Longtime residents of New Hebron, the Lees have made basketballa family affair. Both daughters played basketball and Mrs. Leeserved as the team’s scorekeeper for many years before becoming afull-time teacher in the Lawrence County school system.

She received a bouquet of flowers prior to last night’sgame.

“I’ve enjoyed Bobby’s coaching,” said Mrs. Lee. “He loves thekids and he loves to teach math.” He teaches algebra and advancedgeometry at LCHS.

Asked about his future, Lee said he may continue teaching mathon a part-time basis. A devoted gardener, he raises several hundredtomato plants each spring.

“Bobby just got a shipment of tomato seeds,” said Mrs. Lee. “Iknow that will keep him busy. He gives tomatoes to all the elderlypeople in our community.”

Lee’s state championships are memorable. Back in 1992, after theCougars has claimed the 4A title and Jackson Murrah had won the 5Acrown, the Mississippi High School Activities Association approveda Dream Game matchup between the two powers.

Played at the Jackson State University Athletics & AssemblyCenter, the game drew 8,000 fans. The Cougars beatnationally-ranked Murrah 58-56, putting Monticello basketball onthe map.

“The Dream Game was most memorable,” said Mrs. Lee.

Two members of the 1992 team, Erik Dampier and Vandale Thomas,signed scholarships with Mississippi State University. Dampierhelped lead the Bulldogs to the Final Four his junior year and thensigned an NBA contract with the Golden State Warriors. Dampier nowplays for the Dallas Mavericks.

“The Lord blessed me with some talented players,” said Lee.

Scoggin reviewed Lee’s coaching career during the presentation.He coached the New Hebron boys for 15 years and the girls for 10years before consolidation formed Lawrence County High School.

Smiling at his wife and family, Coach Lee said, “1972 was a verygood year.”

Lee’s first boss, retired New Hebron principal/coach John Flynt,was present for last night’s ceremony.

“Bobby scouted for me in football,” Flynt remembered. “He did agood job of that, too.

“Bobby’s a real good coach,” Flynt continued. “He’ll end up inthe Coaches Hall of Fame.”

Craig Tyler, Lee’s powerful 6-foot-5 senior center, said Lee isan inspiration to the Cougars who are off to a 14-4 start thisseason and lead the division. “Coach Lee is a real good coach. Whenwe are down, he gets us motivated.”

Tyler said he believes the Cougars can make it all the way tothe state tournament in March. That would be another achievementfor Lee’s career.