Seniors sensational for Britt

Published 1:17 pm Monday, March 29, 2010

Loyd Star’s boys made basketball history this season and so didtheir coach, Gene (Moochie) Britt. Led by 10 seniors, the Hornetsmarched to their first state tournament appearance in 38years.

Britt and his team accomplished a milestone, going 24-6. They wererunners-up to Hinds AHS in the Region 6-2A Tournament and the SouthState finals, advancing to the state tournament at the MississippiColiseum in Jackson. They lost a 57-55 heart-breaker to Baldwyn inthe state semifinals.

Acknowledging his efforts, Britt has been selected The DAILYLEADER’s 2010 All-Lincoln County Boys Basketball Team Co-Coach ofthe Year, sharing the honor with Dale Watts of BrookhavenAcademy.

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Britt, 60, said his 10 seniors were instrumental in Loyd Star’ssuccess. They provided him with plenty of depth.

“This year’s team was one of the smallest but they were one of thequickest,” said Britt. “All we needed was a 6-5 center.”

Those 10 seniors are Glenn Thomas, Julious Whittaker, DeAndreButler, McKinley Hamilton, Joseph Shelby, Timothy Brown, ChaseCatchings, Adrian Newton, Keldric Smith and Darius Newton.

“It was a different situation,” said Britt. “I knew the guys Isubbed would do a good job. They stuck with me from the ninth gradeon. They have good attitudes.”

Running and gunning, the Hornets raced past most of their opponentsthis season. They relied mainly on full-court pressure defense,cashing in turnovers with layups.

During his 33 years of coaching basketball at Brookhaven Academyand Loyd Star, Britt has amassed 998 wins, the last victory comingagainst East Marion in the South semifinals. He has coached boysexclusively at Loyd Star for 14 years, compiling a record of 300wins and 103 losses.

As he approaches that 1,000th career victory next season, Britt hasno thoughts of retirement. He is a 1968 Loyd Star graduate who ledthe Hornets to their last state title in boys basketball. They beatMyrtle 67-65 in overtime in the tournament at Starkville, playingthe semifinals and finals on a Saturday.

“I enjoy coaching and getting out there with the kids,” said Britt.”Most people like to compete. Watching the kids improve and getbetter is a rewarding experience for me.”

Britt coached two years of baseball at Brookhaven Academy beforegetting his chance to coach varsity basketball. He comes from afamily of coaches. His mother, the late Pauline Britt, coached 20years, winning at state championship at West Lincoln in 57. Hislate brother, Pearlie Britt, coached basketball at Enterprise for25 years.

Next season will be a major rebuilding season for the Hornets asBritt seeks replacements for five starters. “We have some kids whocan help our program.”

Britt had the opportunity to play for several well-known collegecoaches, including Joe Dan Gold at Mississippi State, Lu Henson atNew Mexico State and M.K. Turk at Co-Lin.

Asked about his coaching philosophy, Britt said, “I believe in hardwork and dedication. You have to stick with what works and just bethe best that you can be.”

Loyd Star has a proud, winning tradition in athletics and fansenthusiastically support the program. Britt said the schooladministration is supportive of his endeavors. He teaches drivereducation.

His wife Margaret is at his side during basketball games, keepingthe scorebook. They were high school sweethearts at Loyd Star andhave two sons who are in the education field.

Their son, Russ, coaches soccer at Brookhaven and football atAlexander Junior High. Their other son, Kyle, works in theadministrative side of education in the Petal school system andwill become a certified principal next year.

In his spare time, Britt raises cattle on his farm located just afew miles from Loyd Star. He and his wife enjoy riding their largeYamaha motorcycle on warm weekends.