Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

March 27, 2013

‘Coach Mac’ resigns

MONTCALM — After four decades of playing or coaching the sport of his choice, Jimmy McPherson is ready for a break.

“I have been associated with basketball every year since fourth grade as a player or coach,” McPherson said. “That has been about 40 years so that has been a long time.

“I am ready to take a little break and see how bad I miss it and give somebody else the opportunity to coach a fun bunch of girls.”

McPherson, who has been the head girls coach at Montcalm for 18 years, decided to resign after this year’s 7-14 record that will be followed by the loss of three players to graduation.

“It is just a good time,” McPherson said. “We have got a good bunch of eighth graders coming up so there is a lot of potential there.

“It is a good opportunity for someone new to come in and have the ones that are left and the new one coming in for four years.”

McPherson had plenty of success at Montcalm, winning six sectional titles, three regional crowns and his Generals made three consecutive appearances in the Class A state tournament from 2004-07.

Twice, the Eva Grose-led Generals lost big to Class AA Catholic schools, and also fell by five points to South Harrison in the ‘07 tourney.

They were close to getting back to Charleston the next two years,  including a heart-breaking loss to Fayetteville at the buzzer in 2008, the very year that the WVSSAC changed the playoff format, forcing the Generals to win one more game than in the past to get to Charleston.

“We went three years in a row, and we lost in the regional championship the next two years,” McPherson said. “We lost at the buzzer (to Fayetteville). We were down 17, but came back and tied it up. We had the basketball and shot to soon and they went down and got a layup.”

A product of Spanishburg High School and a graduate of then-Concord College, McPherson tried to walk-on with the Mountain Lions, but didn’t make the team.

That didn’t deter him from the game he loved, spending eight years with the basketball program at Spanishburg before the school closed, serving as JV boys head coach and varsity assistant.  

He then spent one season as the ninth grade boys coach at Montcalm. The next year is when the girls basketball season was switched from the fall to winter, and Craig Havens — who was coaching both the boys and girls at the time — had to give one of them up.

McPherson inherited the girls’ program and has had them ever since, working in the small school setting he enjoys so much.

“When you are at a small school like that, you are going to have a good run of talent and some not so good runs of talent and I have experienced both,” McPherson said. “I was fortunate in the early 2000s and late 2000s to have a good run of talent.”

It isn’t always just the numbers, it’s keeping what you have. McPherson has lost a pair of talented sisters in the past few years, with one set going to Graham and another duo moving to a school in Kentucky.

“That is the biggest challenge at a small school,” McPherson said. “The talent comes in streaks, it’s not constant so you fight the numbers battle from time to time. Some classes might have three or four players in them, and some classes you are lucky to get one out of it.”

Still, McPherson has enjoyed tenure at Montcalm and plans to remain in his position as a math instructor.

“Right now that is the plan,” said McPherson, who had one assistant, Robin Buckland, also decide to resign. “I love the school and I have got a good administration to work for and I have no plans to go anywhere else at this time.”  

McPherson also hasn’t ruled out coaching in the future, but certainly not when the Generals are preparing for another season in a few months.

“I guess I will have to wait until November to see how bad that is,” McPherson said. “I am sure I will miss the competition, the players and the camaraderie with the coaches and media.

“It has been a good run, a lot of fun and I have gotten a lot enjoyment out of it.”

He also got a lot of wins, 189 to be exact. The temptation was there to keep going, but just not strong enough.

“I did think about getting 200, but I have never been one to chase that type of thing,” McPherson said. “I have always just tried to push the girls and make the most of what you have and we have had pretty good success doing that.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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