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April 22, 2014

Huntsville hires Jay Oliphant as new boys basketball coach

HUNTSVILLE — Huntsville hired a new head coach for the boys basketball team and didn’t have to search very far to find him.

Jay Oliphant is well-known around these parts. He played for the Hornets from 1996-99 and was a member of the Sam Houston State team that played against Florida in the NCAA Tournament in 2003.

After spending the last five seasons as the girls basketball coach, Oliphant will take over a boys program that missed the playoffs in 2013-14 for the first time in the last six seasons.

The Lady Hornets missed the playoffs for a second straight season after back-to-back outright district championships in 2011 and ‘12

“It’s a lot of talent here,” Oliphant said. “The important thing now is for the players to learn my style of play and once they get that down, we should be fine.”

That style of play can be described in one word: fast.

Oliphant’s Lady Hornets teams were known to give the opposition headaches with a full-court press on every made basket, often turning defense into quick and easy offense.

“That’s a big part of our game,” Oliphant said. “I think with a system like that, everybody can get involved. Every kid can enjoy themselves and have a good time playing. The main thing is just training them to have that killer instinct when they’re playing against other opponents and growing them from that process.”

Huntsville boys athletic director Rodney Southern made the hire recommendation after interviewing seven out of 40 total applicants for the position.

Between Oliphant’s background as an ex-Hornet and his success coaching the girls team, the move seemed like the right fit, school administrators said.

“He has a passion for the game, and obviously has success as a player and a coach,” Southern said. “But coming from a place of really wanting to be there is very, very important.”

Oliphant said Monday that one of the more interesting aspects of the upcoming high school demographic is that a lot of the Huntsville students are the children of his classmates and people he’s well-connected with throughout the community.

“Most of the kids, they kind of know what to expect from me,” Oliphant said. “That’s always a positive thing. I’m excited to get it going.”

Now Huntsville looks for a new girls basketball coach to replace Oliphant, and HISD Superintendent Dr. Steve Johnson said Monday the process will include looking internally as well as externally.

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