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Old faces in new places for hoops season

November 18th, 2012 7:22 pm by George Thwaites

Former Rye Cove standout Adam Hood having taken over the boys basketball program at Thomas Walker this season was attention-getting news in the Cumberland District, but there were several other noteworthy coaching changes in Southwest Virginia.

Not the least of them was Brady Yeary taking over the Lee High boys from the fiery, entertaining and sometimes controversial Steve Collier.

Yeary, one of Lee High’s first gridiron heroes, wasn’t known for basketball at Ben Hur. But he has developed his coaching chops substantially  since graduating from college.  In addition to middle school head coaching and high school assistant gigs, he’s had a head-turning run as coach of a successful AAU traveling team.

The Lady Generals also have a new coach: Mike Elkins  took over for the talented Stephanie Ward, who stepped down after leading  the Lee girls to Southwest Virginia and state  tournament prominence. The soft-spoken Elkins is an encyclopedic  coaching polymath and three-season fixture of Lee High athletics.  He has many seasons of experience as a junior varsity head coach and assistant.  

Over at Clintwood, three-year Ervinton head coach Evan McCowan took over the boys’ program.  McCowan played in high school at Ervinton under David Robinette (now coaching at Haysi). The Greenwave were archrivals in the old days, but he’s happy to be in Clintwood now.  He inherits a team that could vie for the Lonesome Pine District title if his talented football crossovers get up to basketball speed.

Over in the Cumberland District, there were two changes at Eastside.   Jeff Adkins, longtime Coeburn coach, took charge of the girls’ program from Terri Anne Funk.  Adkins has coached both boys and girls teams and, in fact, coached both when the seasons weren’t concurrent.  Taking over the boys’ program was Patrick Damron, who came to Eastside as an athletic director after a successful stint as the last boys varsity coach at now-defunct St. Paul High School.  Brian Crutchfield is now Eastside’s athletic director.

There are two new girls basketball coaches in Northeast Tennessee.

This year the Daniel Boone girls are being coached by a former Trailblazers basketball standout.

In the early 1990s,  Travis Mains played high school basketball at Boone,  where he was a three year letterman and   two-year starter.

Mains went on to become a four-year starter at King College where he finished in the top 15 in career scoring (1,313) and rebounding (725). He was an honorable mention All-American in 1998 after helping to lead the Tornado to the conference championship and a berth  in the NAIA tournament.

His prior high school coaching experience includes a stint as an assistant under Mark Pendleton at Sullivan South.

David Crockett turned its girls basketball program over to Will Conley.

The 1994 Crockett graduate worked under Charlie Morgan in the boys’ program at Dobyns-Bennett in 2004-05. He then followed Larry Weems to Elizabethton as an assistant for the girls’ program. When Weems left, Conley stayed on as an assistant under Len Dugger. He spent last season as an assistant at Crockett.

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