Hawks pay homage to legendary Roland Ladner, J. Larry Ladner
By Joseph W. Gex, II
Jan 29, 2013, 18:03
The Hancock County School District paid homage to two legendary coaches from Hancock County on Friday night between the girls’ and boys’ varsity games against the D’Iberville Warriors.
The school district honored longtime coaches Roland Ladner and J. Larry Ladner for their contributions to basketball and, in particular, to the sport of basketball in Hancock County.
The men are cousins who have spent their lives promoting the sport of basketball in Hancock County, South Mississippi, the entire state, the country and internationally.
Roland graduated from Sellers High School in 1948 and began his coaching career shortly after finishing college. Roland commented, “I fell in love with the game of basketball as a young boy. I never missed the Bay High Tournament which was a very big tournament years back. You were able to see all the teams from the county, as well as, many great teams from abroad. I have some tremendous memories as a coach and I am very appreciative of what the school district is doing. I am just humbled that I had an opportunity to impact the sport of basketball and its development in Hancock County.”
Roland, at one point in the 1980s, was the winningest high school basketball coach in the nation. He compiled a boys record of 823 wins and 249 losses, a girls record of 13 wins and 13 losses and a collegiate record of 68 wins and 64 losses. His teams won 70 invitational tournaments and several state titles. He was selected the Mississippi Coach of the Year in 1973 and 1981 and the Southern USA Region 5 Coach of the Year in 1981. Roland was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984.
J. Larry Ladner graduated from Kiln High School in 1955 after a distinguished playing career where he was selected All-State in 1954-55 and was the first player from Hancock County to be named to the North/South All-Star game.
He played collegiately at Pearl River Community College and Louisiana College.
Following his playing days, Larry returned to South Mississippi as head coach at Picayune Memorial High School where he tallied a record of 263 wins and 82 losses.
Larry left high school coaching to take a teaching position with the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. While at USM, Larry was named Distinguished Professor of the Year in 1984 and was honored for Excellence in Teaching in 1974, 1976, 1979, 1984 and 1987.
He was named the Outstanding Educator of America in 1974 and became a noted national and international speaker. Larry is a published author of several articles both nationally and internationally.
He was the first USA basketball coach to speak and host a clinic in Venezuela and served on the United States Olympic Committee in 1976.
Larry was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
Larry was unable to attend the event on Friday evening due to being under the weather but his oldest son, Jay, and his wife, Peggy, accepted on his behalf. Jay, who served 20 years as head coach St. Stanislaus and currently serves as head coach at Jones County Junior College, commented, “Dad has always been very proud of where he is from. He never fails to let people know that he is from Hancock County. Objectively, he has been a tremendous ambassador for Hancock County in his professional life. I know that he so very much wished to be present tonight for this event and he is immensely grateful and humbled by what the Hancock County School District has done.”
After the two legends of the hardwood were honored by the school district, the Hawks completed the night with two varsity wins over the D’Iberville Warriors. The Lady Hawks defeated the Lady Warriors 45-29 while the Hawks downed the Warriors 69-46 in the boys’ game.