Gray leaving Rebels

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The energy and enthusiasm Ricky Gray helped generate in the Adams Christian boys’ basketball program has ended.

It’s time for someone else to keep it going.

Gray offered his resignation to ACCS administrators Aug. 4 to take a head coaching position at Enterprise High School. Gray spent one season as head coach of the Rebels, and the team earned a spot in the MPSA Overall tournament for the first time in more than 20 years and just the second time in school history.

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&uot;My wife has been driving back and forth for seven years for work, leaving at 4 or 5 in the morning,&uot; Gray said. &uot;Lincoln County is home, and it gave us chance to get back. I felt like we needed to make a move and help her with her job. But I had mixed feelings about leaving. The people of Adams Christian were really good to us.&uot;

Gray’s departure leaves a void at an inopportune time for officials at AC, who are now without a head coach after the beginning of the school year. Gray, a Brookhaven-area native, had been in negotiations with Lincoln County School District officials for some time but didn’t resign from Adams Christian until his contract was finalized.

&uot;It’s a real big blow to us,&uot; said AC headmaster John Gray, also Ricky’s father. &uot;He did such a good job for us. We need to find somebody we feel can continue what he started. It was a real good offer. Like always, when retirement and insurance are included in your salary, it makes it attractive. It was quite an increase in salary for both of them.&uot;

Ricky Gray leaves the program after working the returning players during the summer in hopes of having better success this coming season. The team

returns a core of its players from last season, including point guard Glenn Williams, guard Dustin Case and post Luke Ogden.

Now he goes into an Enteprise program that may be in a rebuilding mode of sorts in the hotbed of basketball talent in Lincoln County. But Ricky Gray &045; a graduate of Brookhaven Academy &045; knows plenty about that.

&uot;Nobody did anything wrong,&uot; he said. &uot;We did the best thing for our family. I think they (AC) are going to be good again. The kids had a great summer. We still have Adams Christian in our hearts. My dad is there, and the team is still intact and ready to go. I met with the (EHS) team today for the first time. It’s kind of hard to tell. It’s going to be tough going in like this, but we’ll try hard.&uot;

The situation AC officials are in is trying to find a coach quickly &045; maybe part time even &045; for the 2003-04 season before possibly hiring another coach the following year if things work out that way.

John Gray admitted he would have offered the position to former Huntington head coach Michael McAnally had the timing been better. McAnally left Huntington earlier this year to accept a position as head boys’ basketball coach at Copiah Academy.

The school has a list of candidates, including some currently on staff, but the school will have to act carefully and somewhat hastily to get the position filled. Girls head coach Bruce Pickle served as Ricky Gray’s assistant last year, but asking him to handle both programs may be too much.

Head football coach Keith Walters has experience in basketball, but both programs may be too taxing on him, too.

&uot;The bad part at this time of year is finding somebody not under contract,&uot; John Gray said. &uot;We feel there is maybe an opportunity, and we’ll look at that. But at the same time we’ll look outside, too. If we can get the right person, we’ll consider them to work part time. I’m fully convinced we need to separate girls’ and boys’ coaches. (Pickle) is a possibility, and that’s what we’re talking about if we get in a bind.

&uot;Whatever we do we’ll do for a one-year period and re-evaluate it. I’ve got a strong belief somebody will come through and take care of it for us, but we’re not going to be in a big hurry.&uot;