Lady Indians out to 5-2 start
Waggoner carries on at East Coweta
by Doug Gorman
When East Coweta High was looking for a new girls varsity basketball coach to replace 500-plus game winner Paula Jones, they didn’t need a long search to find her replacement.
That’s because Jared Waggoner was only sitting a few chairs down on the bench.
So far, the former Lady Indians assistant has shown he’s ready to take the next step up the coaching ladder.
Waggoner, who came to know Jones through her son and friend, Lee Heaberlin, is no stranger to success, however. Before arriving as an assistant in 2012-13, Waggoner led Lee Middle’s girls basketball team to four consecutive Coweta County Middle School Athletic League championships.
“I have known her my entire life,” Waggoner said. “It’s not just been about basketball, but I have learned so much about coaching from her.”
So far, the new East Coweta coach is off to a fast start, leading the Lady Indians to a 5-2 record through seven games.
His one-year apprenticeship under the woman who finished her career with 512 victories paid huge dividends in the 2011-12 season as the Lady Indians fought their way to last year’s Class AAAAAA state tournament before losing to Alcovy in the first round.
This year’s lineup is coming off Tuesday’s victory over Tri-Cities to open the Region 3-AAAAAA schedule.
Waggoner always knew he was going to be a coach growing up playing several sports and even putting on the referees’ whistle.
“It is something I really wanted to do since I was about 10-years old,” he said.” I have been involved in soccer, basketball and baseball all of my life, and I played on championship teams.”
Waggoner’s athletic ability earned him a scholarship to Brewton Parker where he pitched on the baseball team and also played in the fall for the college’s soccer team about 10 years ago.
His success at Lee prepared him to move to the high school ranks.
“It’s been a great ride the past four years,” he said.
The first-year coach has watched his team scored at least 60 points in four of its five victories, including last night when it beat Tri-Cities 64-47 to open Region 3-AAAAAA play.
Waggoner had the luxury of inheriting a team of returning veterans, including Shemiah Sanchez and Quentina Roberts who both are averaging double figures.
Sanchez, who is a standout on the softball team and is expected to sign a softball scholarship to SEC power LSU next year, is averaging close to 20 points.
The team’s 5-foot-5 junior guard, has shown her ability to shoot the long-range jumper, and also shoot free throws.
In the victory against Tri-Cities, she hit five free throws in a row and also hit a key 3-point shot.
Roberts has been one of the team’s most consistent scorers. Against the Lady Bulldogs, the junior dished in 16 points.
Waggoner is excited about the Lady Indians youth considering Kiandra Hall is his only senior. The remainder of the 2012-13 roster is filled with seven juniors and two sophomores.
Hall’s experience should help the team down the stretch. She she showed some of that leadership in her last outing, draining two 3-pointers en route to the team’s win.
“We just want to keep building on what we have here,” Waggoner said. “The girls are working hard.”
Waggoner was Jones’ hand-picked successor, but she is observing her replacement from a distance.
“He is more than ready,” said Jones, who has been at Lady Indians home games this year. “He is going to do fine.”
While pulling hard for her coaching prodigy, Jones remains in the background, often observing the game from a chair near the Lady Indians’ locker room.
“We really haven’t talked much basketball,” he said. “She has asked how it is going, but that’s about it. She wants us to do well, but she is staying away, and letting me run the team.”
Waggoner’s team returns to action Friday at LaGrange to complete a home-and-home non-region series.
The Lady Indians won the first game between the two teams 61-36 earlier this season.