High School Sports

It’s official: West Harrison announces boys basketball coach

West Harrison coach Tommy Searight watches as Quieran Gray blocks the pass of Long Beach’s Eli Dykes on Feb. 14.
West Harrison coach Tommy Searight watches as Quieran Gray blocks the pass of Long Beach’s Eli Dykes on Feb. 14. ttisbell@sunherald.com file

What may have seemed like a foregone conclusion to most was made official Monday.

The interim tag has been removed from Tommy Searight’s title as he’s now strictly the head coach of West Harrison’s boys basketball team. The move was approved at Monday’s Harrison County School District board meeting.

Searight replaces former head coach Milton Ray, who took a sabbatical from coaching this past year to pursue an educational leadership degree at Ole Miss. Ray has taken an assistant principal position at North Gulfport Middle School.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to continue to serve and build on what I’ve been doing for five years at West Harrison,” Searight said Wednesday.

A 2003 graduate of D’Iberville, Searight was a football standout. Several junior college basketball programs pursued him, but Searight ultimately signed a football scholarship at Mississippi Valley State University.

“I always had a love for basketball,” Searight said, “I was just better at football.

“I’ve always loved the game. I love the beauty and team concept of the sport. It’s poetry in motion when it’s played the right way.”

Plenty of experience

Upon graduation at MVSU, Searight returned to the Coast to lead Pass Christian’s middle school program for two seasons. He then moved closer to home, taking an assistant position under Doug Bazzell for three years and was elevated to top assistant when Ray arrived three years ago.

“Tommy was raised in the Harrison County School District and has been in the district most of his life,” Harrison County athletic director Bobby Trosclair said. “I think he’ll do a good job for us with the program. He’s worked under some really good coaches.”

During his seven years as an assistant, Searight has taken different characteristics from each of his head coaches.

“Coach Bazzell was a great player coach. He really connected with the players. And Coach Ray has a really high IQ for basketball. I really learned how to connect with the kids and how to study basketball (from Bazzell and Ray),” Searight said. “And Buddy: He was great at the strategic part of the game. He was a great organizer and communicator. He taught me how to be organized.”

The Hurricanes were 11-20 last season with Searight as the interim head coach but only had three seniors on the roster. They were still able to knock off Wingfield in the playoffs and Searight believes they will take a step forward in 2017-18.

“Everybody on the Coast was so even, anybody could beat anybody on any given day,” Searight said. “We played a hard schedule to prepare us for district. We were disappointed we didn’t win the district championship, but very glad we competed.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to compete for district championships and a state title.”

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs