03/19/06 — Girl's basketball COY Ñ Narron's fundamental instructions guide RHS

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Girl's basketball COY Ñ Narron's fundamental instructions guide RHS

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 19, 2006 2:02 AM

Jerry Narron vividly remembers watching his daughter Clare and her teammates take their lumps -- so to speak -- during their freshman and sophomore years at Rosewood.

Perennial powerhouses Midway, Farmville Central and North Johnston doled out plenty of punishment and usually exited with lopsided victories. But the coach inside of Narron knew those defeats would be the benchmark to gradual improvement each year.

He was right.

Narron proudly watched as Rosewood -- a team of blue-collar players -- posted its most-historical campaign in school history since 1940. The Eagles fashioned a perfect 10-0 record against Class 1-A Carolina Conference opposition and spent a few weeks ranked among the state's top 10 teams in the NCpreps.com poll.

Rosewood earned the No. 1 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs and lost a heartbreaking overtime game against nemesis Midway in the sectional semifinals. Narron, who has been named the 2005-06 News-Argus Women's Basketball Coach of the Year, missed the postseason due to his managerial duties with the Cincinnati Reds. But he couldn't have been more pleased with his team's effort.

"I'm fortunate to have a very special group of girls," said Narron in a recent interview with the News-Argus. "They're talented and they all get along. ... That gives us a chance to be successful. They all get along well, no one tries to steal the show.

"That makes this group special."


Definitely a baseball man, Narron admitted he has limited knowledge of basketball. His organizational skills, discipline and teaching of fundamentals undoubtedly factored into Rosewood's success this season.

Narron smartly adapted his scheme to his personnel. The Eagles relentlessly pressured opponents on defense and created turnovers, which led to easy transition baskets. If the opposition made a run, the Eagles always kept their poise and managed to get a key defensive stop.

The style best suited the Eagles, who utilized their quickness which also helped counter their lack of height underneath the basket.

"We don't have a lot of walking it up the floor," said the 50-year-old Narron, who guided the team to its first-ever, regular-season sweep of North Johnston. "We play a lot of in-your-face on both sides of the court."

While defense proved to be a trademark for the Eagles, they were even tougher to defend offensively. A different individual emerged the leading scorer each game.

As the season progressed, Narron spent time with veteran athletics director Daniel Barrow. The two discussed and shared ideas, but always reverted to one constant -- the team's ability to play well together.

"This senior class of girls is a close-knit class and they all like one another," said Barrow. "They've all played with one another a long period of time in all the sports. This team didn't have any outside distractions, no internal problems.

"They were like a bunch of sisters looking after one another."

Once Narron left for spring training, assistants Jennifer Cochran and Josh Smith took over the helm. They followed Narron's game plan in his absence.

Rosewood unwillingly settled for runner-up honors in the Carolina Conference tournament. The Eagles ousted Lejeune in the opening round of the playoffs, but saw their most-productive season -- which resulted in a 20-5 record -- end two days later against Midway.

"There will definitely be a team here at Rosewood more talented than this year's team, but there will not be a group who competes better than these girls," said Narron. "They have a great team concept. There's not one bit of jealousy, it's just a very special group.

"That makes this group a pleasure to coach and be around."

Any dad, or coach, would agree.