Thompson takes the reins of the JCJC Lady Bobcats
By Joseph W. Gex, II
May 8, 2013, 03:05
It has been just shy of one year that Kelton Thompson was sitting in his basketball office at the Wilmer Seymour Gymnasium on the campus of Bay High School contemplating his summer schedule for his Tigers’. My how times have changed in such a short time.
Thompson, the former Bay High head boys coach, was named the head women’s coach at Jones County Junior College on Tuesday, April 30th. He takes over the program after the sudden retirement of Sandra Sumrall who had spent 14 years as the mentor for the Lady Bobcat program. Thompson served this past season as associate head coach of the boys’ team at JCJC under Jay Ladner.
Thompson commented, “I am very excited to be taking over the Lady Bobcat program. Coach (Sandra) Sumrall had approached me earlier about my interest in the job. The differences in the men’s and women’s game intrigued me. The women’s game is a very fundamental game and Coach Sumrall has left the program on a very strong foundation. The timing of the whole situation was very good and everything about it just felt right.”
Thompson is taking over a program that is on strong footing. Sumrall had a 211-127 overall record at JCJC during her 14 years as head coach. The Lady Bobcats have four state titles in program history and three of them came under Sumrall in 2001 and 2009-10. Prior to coming to JCJC, Sumrall coached at West Jones from 1982-99 and won the Class 4A state championship in 1997. She played collegiate basketball and volleyball at the University of Mississippi. Sumrall ended her career with an overall record of 574-263.
Thompson stated, “Coach Sumrall did an excellent job with the Lady Bobcats. This is not a rebuilding job as the program has a strong foundation and is in great shape. We return a strong nucleus and the signing class that was put together will have an immediate impact.”
Thompson admitted he has a learning curve when it comes to the women’s game. He stated, “There will be some adjustments I will have to make on how I coach on the floor. However, the game of basketball will still be basketball. There will be some small nuances we will have to adjust to but once we do that all will be fine.”
Current Bay High girls head coach Debbie Triplett is the former athletic director at the school and hired Thompson in 2006 to take over the boys’ program. It was his first head coaching job. Triplett commented, “I am very glad for him. Kelton possesses a tremendous work ethic and his enthusiasm carries over onto the court. His teams will execute offensively and have an up-tempo attitude. He has a great personality with the young people. This move will bring about some great changes in him. The team will absorb his passion for the game and will be committed to playing for him. Nothing but the best will come this team.”
This past season Thompson was the associate boys head coach under his former mentor Jay Ladner. Thompson played at St. Stanislaus under Ladner from 1993-96 and was a member of Ladner’s fist state tournament team at SSC in 1996. Following his playing days for the Rocks, Thompson played at William Carey College from 1996-2000. He was assistant coach at SSC under Ladner from 2001-06 before he took over the Bay High Tigers’ program where he served as head coach from 2006-12.
While at Bay High, Thompson won Division 8-4A twice (2010, 2012), advanced to the state tournament twice (2010, 2012) and won the Class 4A state championship in 2010. The state title was the first boys’ state title in school history.
His overall head coaching record is 120-79.
Ladner stated, “This is a great hire by JCJC. Kelton has been a winner everywhere he has been and that won’t change. I am extremely proud for him. Kelton is a young man that I have known since he was in the seventh grade. He is very intelligent and brings a tremendous amount of knowledge about the game to the program, as well as, tremendous credibility. Kelton brings a competitive fire to the game and is a creative and innovative master of many styles of play. He knows how to teach the game of basketball and motivate. Kelton is poised to have the Lady Bobcats compete nationally. We will miss him on a full time basis but he will still be involved with the men’s program to the extent that he is able to be involved.”
Thompson will have a signee this coming fall that he should be rather familiar with in Terrica Williams of Bay High. Thompson ended, “I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity with JCJC. I am looking forward to the challenge that this opportunity presents. We want our girls to play in and compete for a national title. However, our immediate focus is getting better each and every day. But, more importantly, to do things the right way. Everything in athletics is a process, the same that it is a process in life. If one handles the process, then winning takes care of itself.”
Thompson will start in the fall with several returnees such as Kaylan Hughes, Precious Jefferson, Khadijah Jones, Chelsea Phillips and Caitlyn Spane along with the incoming class.