by Elise Dudley
Steve Darden, who has coached the Lee-Scott JV Boys Basketball team since 1986, celebrated 20 years of coaching JV basketball by taking the LSA boys to the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) state championship game.
Finishing as state-runner-up was yet another achievement in a long list of coaching successes for Darden, as his past teams have won five AISA state championships, including two in the past three years.
Darden says he realizes JV boys are not expected to be as advanced as they would be at the varsity level. He coaches them hard, but tries not to be too harsh. He says different players respond to different styles of coaching, and he tries to learn how his players respond to know how to coach them in the best way possible.
He also focuses on teaching them how to play hard and as a team. Darden says that in JV basketball, learning how to improvise plays a key role. His teams practice hard and play hard and his success as a coach shows that the hard work usually pays off.
Of his most recent squad, Darden said, “This was a very fun group.”
The team made it to the state championship game before coming up just short in an overtime loss to Bessemer. Despite the loss, the team accomplished many great things this season.
There have been two players to score over 300 points in a single JV season. Allen Ponder, now an assistant coach for Lee-Scott varsity boys basketball, and Berry Dudley, a current freshman, are the only two that have accomplished this feat. Reynolds Carl and Sims Kaak, also freshmen, scored over 200 points this season. Carl is the second point guard under Coach Darden to do this.
Franklin Smith, the first, is now an assistant coach for the Lee-Scott JV boys. This is the first season that Darden has ever had three players score over 200 points.
The team also marked another milestone this season when they brought the coach his 300th career win.
“They are a great group,” said Darden, “I will remember the individuals.”
The team will also remember Coach Darden.
“Coach Darden is very influential in athletics, academics and in life,” said freshman Patrick Starr. “I’ll always remember him saying to “do what you do well and don’t do what you don’t do well.”
Darden is already looking forward to next season, noting that even though he is losing a great freshmen class, the current “seventh graders have the potential to be very good.”
And they already realize what the coach expects of them. Darden is looking forward to adding another chapter to his success at LSA next season.