No matter where any of us travel during our lives, we are never far from home because home is always calling to us. That rings very true for Kelton Thompson who was named the new head basketball coach for the Bay High Lady Tigers on Thursday, March 19th.
Thompson returns to Bay High after leading several programs and coaching, literally, all over the world.
He stated, “Debbie Triplett gave me a chance to be a head basketball coach when I had no experience as a head coach. She developed one of the greatest programs, boys or girls, in the state right here in Bay St. Louis. I know how much this program means to her as she has been a mentor to me and we have always been close. This is a school district that I am familiar with. I am very excited about the leadership within the district. I am looking forward to getting started with great anticipation.”
Thompson is a 1996 Saint Stanislaus graduate where he spent seven years as a boarding student and prepped under former SSC head coach and current USM head coach Jay Ladner.
At SSC, Thompson helped lead the Rocks to the Class 4A state tournament for the first time in 50 years in 1996 before signing to play at William Carey in Hattiesburg.
After his collegiate playing days were done, he returned to Bay St. Louis where he was an assistant at SSC under Ladner for six years before Debbie Triplett hired him as the boys head coach at Bay High.
Thompson led the Tigers from 2006-12 accumulating a record of 120-79 and the 2010 Class 4A state championship.
He coached one season under Ladner at Jones County Junior College during 2012-13 before stepping away from coaching for two seasons.
Thompson returned to the Mississippi high school ranks as head coach of Pearl River Central for the 2015-16 season where he led them to the #1-seed in the their division tournament with a 9-17 record. He moved to Picayune and led the Maroon Tide for two seasons racking up a record of 41-19.
Thompson spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach for the Jordanian National Team where they came within one victory of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At the end of the 2019 international season, Thompson heard home calling him back and returned Hancock County.
Thompson added, “I have had the opportunity to coach at some great institutions and be involved with the game at a national and professional level. And, I had an opportunity to continue coaching club ball on the international level but it was time to come home.”
This past season the Lady Tigers advanced to the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs with a 7-22 record under interim head coach and former Lady Tiger standout Sarah Gilmore Taylor.
Thompson ended, “I have not had an opportunity to see any of the players on the court but I do know that the girls who played for Coach Triplett never lacked for a challenge. As soon as we are able to get back on the court, we will move forward establishing our process and getting to work. This is where I started as a head coach so it is a very special place for me. I am very blessed to be back and consider it an honor and privilege to be here.”
As soon as the CoVid-19 outbreak and threat has subsided and the MHSAA ushers participation back, Thompson will begin to rally his troops for the 2020-21 season. Thompson has a career high school head coaching record of 170-115, thwo division titles, two Final Four berths and a Class 4A state championship.