The Picayune boys basketball team is playing its most important games of the season, but it is doing so without the team’s head coach.
Carey Meitzler, who does radio play-by-play for the Maroon Tide on WRJW-1320 AM, confirmed to the Sun Herald Tuesday night that Kelton Thompson has not coached the team in either of the last two games.
Thompson was not on hand to lead the team during Friday’s 66-36 win over Hancock on senior night in Picayune and he did not coach the squad during Tuesday night’s 56-43 loss to Hattiesburg in the first round of the Region 7-5A Tournament in Hattiesburg. Picayune will play North Pike at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in the third-place contest.
The reason for his absence is unclear. Picayune High School and school district officials are staying quiet on the matter.
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Picayune School District assistant superintendent Brent Harrell declined to comment on Friday when asked about Thompson’s status with the basketball program, saying he couldn’t speak on the issue because it was a personnel matter.
Thompson also refused to comment when he was contacted by the Sun Herald last week and did not return another call on Tuesday.
Picayune athletic director Walt Esslinger has failed to return multiple calls made to him by the Sun Herald.
Assistant coach Eric Vianney has served as the head coach for the Maroon Tide over the last two games.
Thompson, a St. Stanislaus graduate, is in his second year as the head basketball coach at Picayune after joining the program in 2016 following one season as the coach at rival Pearl River Central. The Maroon Tide finished 22-8 last year and are currently 18-10.
Thompson was the head coach at Bay High when the boys won the 2010 Class 4A state title. He was named the head women’s basketball coach at Jones County Junior College in 2013, but his stint was short-lived after his arrest for driving under the influence in September of that year.