Taking over a winning program is never easy, but first-year head coach Maurice Jones was more than up to the task.
Before taking over as head coach, Jones was the Chargers JV head coach for the past seven seasons. Jones said his familiarity with the team made his transition to varsity head coach easy.
“It was tough in the beginning because I didn’t know I was getting the job until Oct. 1 and season started Nov. 1, so after I got over the initial shock and got the girls in the gym, it became a lot easier,” Jones said. “We had a lot of returning players, and four returning starters so made it a lot easier.
“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
With a veteran roster, Jones guided the Chargers to one of their best seasons in school history. The Chargers had a 13-game win streak, finished with a 22-3 overall record and finished 8-0 in NCISAA Coastal Plains Conference play.
Jones said the Chargers’ 44-40 win against Statesville Christian in the second game of the season gave the Chargers the confidence they needed to carry them for the rest of the season.
“They knew that was a tough game, and it was a measuring game,” Jones said. “We were losing the whole game, and we pulled it in the last minute. We got steals, two layups and won the game.
“At that point, they realized they could do it. That’s when the players really bought in”
Their season ended in the NCISAA 2-A semi-finals against eventual state champion Davidson Day School.
For his efforts, Jones is the 2018-2019 News-Argus All-Area Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year.
“It unbelievable, I don’t know what to say,” Jones said about being named coach of the year.
Jones quickly credited the recognition to his players and coaching staff.
“The staff I had was a tremendous group,” Jones said. “The team had been playing together for the last three years. The two senior guards had played together the last three years, so I took that and based my continuity off of that, and let them lead the rest of the girls.”
“They gave 100 percent in every game and every practice.”
Jones said what made this year’s group special was their motivation going into the season and their ability to play as a unit.
“They were motivated from day one,” Jones said. “They knew exactly what they wanted to do, and from day one their goal was to win a state championship.”
While the Chargers fell short of their ultimate goal of winning a state championship, Jones said that seniors Jala Holloman and Langley Barnes played integral roles in the Chargers’ success this season and left a lasting legacy that will inspire players for years to come.
“We’re team oriented, and we had leaders,” Jones said. “Langley Barnes is a genuine leader and captain, and of course there’s Jala. It’s really easy to coach when you have leaders on your team.” Jones said. “It was a great season. We won the conference, won the conference tournament, and made to the semi-finals in the state.
“They gave it everything, and I’m proud of them.”