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Gray keeps the bar high at BA

Barry Gray’s basketball coaching skills are recognized acrossthe Magnolia State. The Brookhaven Academy mentor has won his shareof games over the years, including several state titles.

In the 2009-10 campaign, Gray’s Lady Cougars made another strongshowing. They won the District 4-AA Tournament and the South Statetitle. They were runners-up in the AA State Tournament at Indianolaand advanced to the Final Four in the MAIS Overall Tournament,losing to Class AAA and eventual Overall state champion East RankinAcademy.

For his efforts, Gray has been selected The DAILY LEADER’sAll-Lincoln County Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. His girls,with no seniors on the team, finished 31-7

“I know expectations are high for next year,” said Gray. He hasbeen coaching at his alma mater for 15 years. He has won six statetitles at BA and one Overall crown.

Gray, 47, still had a young team this season. He started threejuniors in center Anna Katelyn Mangold, guard Summer Calhoun andforward Anna Lofton, plus two sophomores in guard Terah Winborneand forward Laura Beth Wright.

“We had a solid team this season,” said Gray. “They worked hard andthey played together.”

He comes from a basketball family. His father, John R. Gray,coached the Cougars to a state tournament title in 1981 when Barrywas a senior guard. His brother, Rickey Gray, is the boysbasketball coach at Parklane Academy.

“I’ve really been blessed,” said Gray. His wife, the former LindyNoble, works as his assistant coach. She played basketball at BAand Ole Miss.

State playoff veterans, the Lady Cougars usually pick it up a notchwhen the district tournament begins. When they won the South Statetitle by defeating Bowling Green 42-22, Gray called it his team’sbest defensive effort of the season.

“I was pleased with our season,” said Gray. “We progressed on theoffensive end. We got better on defense. I was encouraged with theway we finished. “The Good Lord has blessed us with good health.I’ve been blessed with some good athletes.”

Gray said his team is knocking on the state championship door afterlosing to Leake Academy in the AA finals. “If we can make one moreprogression, we should be among the top teams in theOverall.”

According to Gray, the future looks bright. “Our junior high wondistrict and we only had one ninth grader on our team. Our girlshave a high level of character, too.”

Gray said support for his program has been strong. “The parents areenthusiastic and our administration really supports us.”

Gray has been coaching girls basketball for 25 years and has wonover 700 games. He has less than 160 losses during thatstint.

Ask Gray about his basketball philosophy and he’ll mention defense,fundamentals and hard work. He puts his girls through a strenuousoffseason regimen and they participate in several summer basketballcamps.

However, Gray also expresses his deep concern about his girls’spiritual lives. He conducts a devotion period before and aftergames.

At the conclusion of many games, Gray’s girls will gather atmidcourt with their opponents and have a brief time of prayertogether. He and his family are members of First Baptist Churchwhere he has served as a deacon.

The Grays have two children. Alan is a senior at Ole Miss and Alexis in the ninth grade.