Lamar looks to continue to grow, has championship in sights
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Over the last six years there has been something special happening in the small town of Lamar.
Since taking over Lamar girls’ basketball squad in 2011 after it had won just one game the season before, Randolph Scott has completely rebuilt a program from the ground up.
While coaching the Lamar boys’ junior varsity basketball team, Scott began to take notice of the girls’ program and it was at that point that he asked Principal Cathy Gainey for the job, which she in turn gave him.
“I told her there is something there and I see it and I think all it needs is just a little push to get the program going in the right direction,” Scott said. “I could never foresee that it would be this early in the program since we’ve been here to get it up and running and be in the position that we are right now.”
During the first season under Scott, Lamar won only three games but the following year, after switching from the lower state to the upper state, the Silver Foxes finished second in the region and they’ve never looked back.
This past season Lamar advanced to the upper state championship for the second time in six years under Scott and, unlike the first time when the Lady Silver Foxes graduated a majority of the girls from that team after the season, this team returns a large nucleus from last year’s squad.
“Coming back we have 10 girls that actually played last year on this basketball team,” Scott said. “We are looking to grow and see if we can get back to the upper state championship this year and get it done.”
Leading the charge of those 10 returning girls is senior Simone Durant. She enters the season recognized as one of the top five players in the entire state for 1A, a testament to how great she has been over her career.
From how great she is on the court, to how hard she works off of it in the classroom, to the drive she has to come to practice each and every day, Scott has thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to coach Durant.
“Simone is a worker, she is a quit leader, but she works hard,” Scott said. “She is tough on herself. Sometimes I have to get on her for being so tough on herself. She wants to make every play, make every shot and sometimes she beats herself up behind that, but that is just being an athlete, that’s just being somebody that wants to be better, being competitive and wanting to be better than anybody else out there on the floor. I have enjoyed Simone, good kid, academics good, I have enjoyed her because she comes to practice. That is not one that you have to go look for. I mean she is here and she is working hard and that is the biggest thing for me. She has been with us for four and half years because I pulled her up in the eighth grade.”
Durant, who has been on the varsity team since the ended of her eighth grade year, has made both of the trips to Greenville to compete for the upper state championship and with one last chance to cap off a marvelous career with a championship on the resume, Scott is pulling hard for his senior guard.
“I’m pulling for her; I’m one of her biggest fans,” Scott said. “I want her to get to that state championship level and see what it is to run out in Columbia and see that you have arrived and win it. That is my goal for these ladies and I am hoping that will happen at the end of the day.”
Winning a state championship is obviously one of the top goals for this team and is how everyone from players to coaches are envisioning the season ending, but for Scott, while he acknowledges how important a championship would be for his program there is another aspect in which he takes great pride: the academic future of these young girls.
“It would be awesome to get to that level to where you can say that Lamar has a girls’ state championship basketball team,” Scott said. “It would mean a lot to the girls, to the school. As a coach, for me, it would mean a lot, but for me, my thing is trying to get these kids in college. That’s my thing. I can go without winning a state championship as long as I can continue to get kids in school.
Since he has been at Lamar the Lady Silver Foxes have had four sign scholarships to play basketball, but he also preaches academics, preaches to the girls about doing their work and school lessons. That commitment to academics has resulted in 16 girls going to college along with a couple that went to the military.
Lamar enters this season as the number two ranked girls team in the state for the 1A classification and it is pretty clear why so many believe that good things are going to come for the Lady Silver Foxes this season and many more seasons to come.
“This team right here, with the ones that we have coming back, it’s their second year together,” Scott said. “We have some young ones, but the veteran girls, they understand what we are going through, what we are trying to accomplish and they are trying to get the younger girls to come along as quick as they can because I am carrying five freshmen. This is the first year that I have ever had five freshmen at one time. It’s a big plus; it’s a learning thing because when you have five freshmen that means I have them for four years. So I am looking to continue to build a program around them, the freshmen as well as the upper classmen, but more around the freshmen because the more freshmen we can get coming in seeing them do what they do is a positive.”
Do not be surprised if Lamar finally wins that state championship this year and do not be surprised if it is the first of many to come.