High School Sports

New Poplarville coach sees Hornets as ‘diamond in the rough’

Run Bowen, left, and Robin Jeffries
Run Bowen, left, and Robin Jeffries

Robin Jeffries has spent the better part of her professional career on high school and college basketball courts across Texas and Mississippi. When the former St. Patrick girls basketball coach and athletic director took the athletic director job at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, she said she almost immediately felt like something was missing in her life.

She was made whole again last month when she was approved as Poplarville High’s girls basketball coach.

“I got out of it and sometimes you don’t know how much you’ll miss it until you step back. It’s definitely my passion,” Jeffries told the Sun Herald on Thursday. “It didn’t take me long. I missed coaching.”

The Hornets also made another hire at last month’s meeting, announcing the addition of Run Bowen as boys basketball coach.

“We interviewed several very qualified candidates and Coach Bowen and Jeffries were at the tops of those lists,” Poplarville AD Jonathan Ray said. “We feel great about the hires, especially with them being veterans and having a lot of experience.

“We feel like they’re going to be able take us to the next level.”

New boys coach

Bowen will be a familiar name to Coast basketball fans. While he spent last year at Perry Central, Bowen previously coached at Long Beach, Pearl River Central, Ocean Springs and Vancleave.

“I’ve been trying to get to Poplarville ever since (John) Miller left (after the 2006-07 season) and never had the opportunity,” he said. “I truly believe Poplarville is a diamond in the rough when it comes to basketball.

“They have athletes year in and year out with a good family environment and kids who work hard.”

The Hornets have had success, recording 15 or more wins in each of the last four seasons. The Poplarville boys did graduate four seniors, including their top two scorers from last year’s 17-11 team, so Bowen said his team may look a bit younger this season.

“What I have is a group of kids who are hard workers,” he said. “We worked a little this summer and the kids got after it. That’s good to see for a new coach.”

Bowen said he’ll change his scheme to fit his players, but ideally he’d like to run an up-tempo offense with a high-pressure defense.

Back in coaching

Jeffries had nothing but good things to say about her time at MGCCC, but being away from coaching was difficult.

“Really, just mentoring and working with the kids is what I missed the most,” she said. “When Poplarville opened up it was exciting because I really think they can win there. They’re respectful and hard working.”

The Lady Hornets are coming off of a 17-11 season, but graduate five. Like the boys team, Jeffries anticipates a young lineup once Poplarville hits the court late this fall.

“They’re young. I think in a couple years they’ll find they’re capable of doing more than they currently think they can,” she said. “But it’s a good group. They have to get to know the new coach, what the coach expects and then just working together as a team. We’ll need new leaders to step up and take charge.

“I think they’re eager.”

Jeffries joined St. Patrick in 2012. A Mississippi State Bulldog from 1985-1988, Jeffries previously coached at Millsaps and Spring Hill College.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs