By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Lindsey Jones is back in the red, white and black of PikeView High School, and seems genuinely to be enjoying his new task as head coach of the youthful boys basketball team.
He’s come a long way from his playing days for the brand-new Panthers program in the 1990s.
“It’s a sweet experience,” Jones said prior to practice earlier this week. “I was in the first junior class at PikeView.”
Since then, he earned his teaching degree from Concord University, got married, had children and began a coaching career that included four straight trips to the state high school basketball tournament, while he was an assistant boys coach at Mercer Christian Academy.
A teacher at Ceres Elementary School near Princeton, he spent the last five seasons as head boys basketball coach at Montcalm High School. Now he’s been hired to inherit the PikeView program after Bill Anderson resigned the position earlier this year.
“It’s been really good. I’ve really enjoyed the first eight days we’ve had here,” Jones said prior to Tuesday evening’s practice in Gardner.
“It’s not all completely new to me because I’ve been assistant football coach here for many years, so I knew some of the kids. I knew their names, but (that’s all) I knew when it came to their basketball skills and what their talents were.”
“I’m learning them, and we’re trying to develop those skills that they have.”
He said he is encouraged because “the kids, by far, are just totally receptive. They’ve accepted the coaches, and what we’re trying to teach. You can just see that they have open ears ... .”
Jones said this year’s Panthers will “most definitely” maintain the hustling, scrappy attitude developed by Anderson and his predecessors. It’s the same style of play Jones was fond of at Mercer Christian and Montcalm.
“We’re going to try to get up and down the floor,” Jones said. “We don’t have the greatest size, so we think that would be an advantage to us, to get up and down the floor. And we work really hard on the defensive end. We’re emphasizing help-side defense and team defense.”
“We’re still trying to evolve our starting lineup,” Jones said. “What it’s really going to be based upon is who can grab a good strong concept of what we’re doing on offense and on defense.”
Jones’ coaching staff includes Teresa Farley and Colton Thompson, who were also assistant coaches with Anderson last year.
They’ve been joined by Kevin Shirey, who was head coach of the Mercer Christian Cavaliers boys team in their successful run in the mid-2000s, with Jones as his assistant.
Jones said, “We were fortunate enough to go to Charleston four straight years. I’m hoping that we can repeat that, and bring that experience here (so they can) know what it’s like.”
Tucker Meadows has been added to direct the ninth-grade Panthers.
PikeView will have two scrimmage opportunities, at single-A Fayetteville on Nov. 29, followed two days later by a visit to Gardner by triple-A South Charleston.
Asked about the choice to take on the Black Eagles from the Kanawha Valley, he said, “It’ll be a really good test for us to see where we are and where we need to go, to accomplish our goals.”
He said, “We have a very challenging schedule. We open up at Wyoming East, and then at Bluefield. ... I like to play a difficult schedule, so it didn’t bother me any at all. I like to play the best to see where I’m at and where I need to go to compete with those guys.”
He said, “We have to come a long way in our conditioning. We’re not in physically good enough shape to compete with those guys at that level. But we’ve made great strides in eight days in our conditioning.”
PikeView’s students come from a broad stretch of Mercer County, and many of them live off of “back roads.” Jones said travel issues have not been a problem — yet.
He said, “I think they’ve bought into what we’re doing, and they’ve been committed to being here at practice. Now, I’m sure snow will present challenges (since) we are from the outskirts.”
He is finding a challenge in not being at PikeView during the school day himself.
“Everything we have to do is over the phone. It delays the process,” he said. “But as far as working with (the administration and coaching staffs), all of them, they’ve been really great, which I expected, coming in. I’ve worked with them all. Karen (Miller, the girls basketball coach) is a great lady to work with.”
The teamwork shown by the school staff is one thing. Fostering teamwork among his players is a different story.
“They just really have to buy into the team concept,” he said. “Everything we’re based upon is having belief in our teammates, that they’re going to be there for us on the defensive end. And when we have the basketball, they’re going to make the cut that we need them to make.
“It’s a total team effort.”
— Contact Tom Bone at