A pair of familiar faces will be taking over local boys basketball programs within Lauderdale County.
Whitney Owens was officially hired Wednesday as the varsity boys basketball head coach at Lauderdale County High, and Brad Newton was hired for the same position at Rogers.
Owens, a 2000 graduate of Lauderdale County High, has been a basketball coach within the LCHS program for the last 15 years – the last 11 leading the “B” team and assisting Mark Newton on the varsity. Newton stepped down from coaching after this past season.
Owens said he’s thankful to the administration and board for giving him the chance to be the head coach. He also wanted to thank Newton and former coach Ted Talley for mentoring him.
“It’s a happy day for me personally because that was one of my goals,” Owens said. He has worked with Newton for over a decade, however, and acknowledged “it’s going to be strange not to be sitting there beside each other.”
Brett Sinyard, who was previously coaching the junior high team, will now coach the “B” team and be Owens’ varsity assistant.
Lauderdale County has made the Class 3A state tournament two of the last three years and finished runner-up last year. Several of its top players graduated, but the team returns starting point guard Eric Fuqua and other players with varying levels of experience.
“The guys coming back, they’re talented, they love playing ball and they work hard,” Owens said. “ … They’re going to compete. I don’t have to worry about that.”
Owens, Sinyard and Newton have worked together for several years and tried to align the different levels of the program so everyone is teaching the same things. Owens thinks that has contributed to the program’s success.
“Our teams just mirror each other,” Owens said. “We have a system of pretty much the same defense and the same offensive scheme.
“It’s usually just a smooth transition. Everything just kind of flows with the continuity we’ve had.”
Newton takes over the varsity boys basketball program at Rogers from Chris Krieger, who stepped down after last season.
Newton is an assistant coach on the Rogers football team. Through this past season, he coached the “B” team for girls basketball and was a varsity assistant to Blake Prestage.
Rogers’ boys struggled scoring last season and won only three games, though they lost several games by small margins. He wants the team to have more of a “physical presence.”
“We’re going to try to get a lot stronger,” Newton said. “We’re starting June 8 and we’re going to start lifting three days a week.”
Newton graduated from Lauderdale County High in 1993. His previous varsity head coaching experience came in the mid-2000s when he coached Wilson girls basketball for a couple years.
“I’m real simple in what we do, and the stronger you are the more confidence you’re going to be,” he said.
Rogers plays in Class 4A, Area 16 with Deshler, Central and Wilson. The Pirates have a challenging schedule next year, largely because of the school’s girls team winning a state title in 2019 and reaching the regional finals last year, but Newton is embracing the chance to learn against quality competition.
He is hoping for rising seniors such as Kutter Bradley and Benton Gray to set a positive tone for the team.
Newton said it was not easy leaving behind the girls he has been coaching to this point.
“Those kids did everything you could ask them to do,” he said.