HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Tony Woody has coached high school basketball for 24 years.
Managing the personalities and trying to motivate a group of teenagers can be challenging, especially if its two different teams. Woody’s duties doubled at Jefferson Davis this season when he took over the boys and girls programs.
It’s not a situation he’s unfamiliar with – Woody coached both basketball teams at Columbia for nine of his 19 years in Marion County.
“Coach Woody’s just been like a father figure to us,” said Jefferson Davis junior guard Tynerious Daniels, who leads the Jaguars with 25.9 points per game. “He knows the game, especially at the point guard position.”
“He fuss at us a lot but we get it done,” said Lady Jaguars junior Zykeria Herrion. “He be hard, though.”
“Every day he might yell at us, and we might take it to the heart sometimes,” said Lady Jaguars freshman Angel McLendon. “But at the end, it’s all ‘cause of love.”
“The girls teach you a lot about patience because they’re not above the rim,” Woody said. “You learn how to teach more basketball and more fundamentals than you do with the guys.”
Woody’s met the challenge by leading both the Jaguars and Lady Jaguars to the “Elite 8” of the class 3A state championships.
The girls (22-7) take on Crystal Springs (26-4) at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum followed by the boys (20-8) battle with defending state champion Velma Jackson (28-5) at 8:30 p.m.
It’s the Jaguars second trip to the quarterfinals since Woody took over in 2017-18. The William Carey Hall of Famer has compiled a 445-212 career record but played for the state championship just once with the 2008 Columbia Wildcats.
Woody believes both his teams have what it takes to extend their seasons.
“I thought both teams had a real good shot if we stayed healthy and began to gel,” Woody said. “I could say right now that both teams are playing about as well as any two teams I’ve had. And it’s just a blessing and an honor to have the opportunity to coach both of ‘em. It’s been fun, it’s been challenging and frustrating. The journey has been great.”