Home News Jared McCurry named coach of the year after John Hardin’s unbeaten run

Jared McCurry named coach of the year after John Hardin’s unbeaten run

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Jared McCurry traveled the world as a professional basketball player – Switzerland, Greece, Italy, China and Israel – but always planned to come back to his Kentucky home.

“Playing basketball professionally was a dream of mine, and it worked out,” McCurry said. “But I always told myself when I was one playing that I’d like to get into coaching. I’ve always wanted to be a part of basketball, so coaching has kept me in it.”

McCurry just finished his 10th season with the John Hardin High School basketball program – fifth as head coach – and enjoyed one of his finest seasons ever in the sport.

McCurry’s Bulldogs became the first team in 30 years (Clay County in 1989) to reach the state tournament with an undefeated record and ultimately finished 35-1 after falling to Campbell County 61-60 in the first round.

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Coaches around the state took notice of McCurry’s work, voting him the Courier Journal Kentucky Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

“It’s a great honor,” McCurry said. “I never thought this would happen. There are a lot of coaches around the state who had unbelievable years, too. To win that is pretty special. You have to have great players and a great coaching staff to ever win something like this, and my staff did an incredible job. I love them.”

McCurry received 22 votes from the 93 coaches who returned ballots. Scott County’s Billy Hicks, last year’s winner, was the runner-up with 20 points and was followed by Campbell County’s Aric Russell (11 votes), Trinity’s Mike Szabo (seven) and Waggener’s Bryan O’Neill.

McCurry, 38, is a 1998 graduate of Elizabethtown High School who went on to play four seasons of basketball at Bellarmine University. After several years on the pro circuit, McCurry was asked by former John Hardin head coach Mark Wells to join his staff as an assistant in 2009. After five seasons as an assistant, McCurry took over as head coach in 2014.

“Coaching is always what I’ve wanted to do since high school, and it’s funny because I always wanted to coach at the high school level,” McCurry said. “The kids at this age are eager to learn, and it’s an important part of their basketball career. I never wanted to do seventh or eighth grade. I wanted to be on the high school level where they’ve learned the game a little bit and I could continue that on with the kids. I like being around this age level.”

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McCurry has a 117-47 record in his five seasons and captured his first Fifth Region title last year, when the Bulldogs went 28-8 and lost a triple-overtime heartbreaker to Pikeville in the first round of the Sweet 16.

Not many expected John Hardin to return to the Sweet 16 this season, much less win 35 straight games to get there.

“Nobody really expected us to do a whole lot, and I didn’t expect a whole lot,” McCurry said. “I thought we could be pretty good by the end of the year. It was very surprising to do what we did. … These kids showed a lot of grit. To do it 35 straight times was pretty historic.”

John Hardin won the inaugural Kentucky 2A Championships in January and rolled through the Fifth Region Tournament, beating Hart County, Marion County and Taylor County by an average margin of 23.7 points.

McCurry said his players handled the streak – and the attention – as well as could be expected.

“Every night, every team you’re going to get their best shot,” he said “We had to show up every night because every team we played … everybody wanted to be the first to beat us. The news and newspapers and news channels were coming every night. It started weighing on the kids and answering it every day. The kids fought through it, and the coaching staff did a great job of keeping them focused.”

And even though the season ended without a state title, McCurry said the disappointment is fading.  

“As a kid growing up in Kentucky, you always want to win the state championship at Rupp Arena,” McCurry said. “We felt like we had a team that could fight for that, so that was kind of disappointing. But now looking back and what our expectations were at the beginning of the year, to do what we did is kind of special. It’s setting in now.”

Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; jfrakes@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @kyhighs. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jasonf.

PAST COURIER JOURNAL BOYS BASKETBALL COACHES OF THE YEAR

1946 — Bobby Laughlin, Breckinridge Training; 1947 — Earle Jones, Maysville; 1948 — McCoy Tarry, Brewers; 1949 — Letcher Norton, Clark County; 1950 — Ralph Carlisle, Lafayette.

1951 — Dale Barnstable, Manual; 1952 — Norton, Clark County; 1953 — George Conley, Ashland; 1954 — Delmas Gish, Central City; 1955 — John Burr, Adair County; 1956 — Bill Carter, Heath; 1957 — John Bill Trivette, Pikeville; 1958 — Norton, Clark County; 1959 — Charlie Lampley, North Marshall; 1960 — Jim Morris, Flaget.

1961 — Bob Wright, Ashland; 1962 — Elmer “Baldy” Gilb, Henry Clay; 1963 — Morton Combs, Carr Creek; 1964 — Gene Rhodes, Male; 1965 — Bill Harrell, Shelby County; 1966 — Harrell, Shelby County; 1967 — Bob Fox, Earlington; 1968 — Jim Richards, Glasgow; 1969 — Bob Graves, Louisville Central; 1970 — Gary Schaffer, Pleasure Ridge Park.

1971 — Jack Upchurch, Anderson County; 1972 — Ray Vencil, Elizabethtown; 1973 — Bob Barlow, Bryan Station; 1974 — Graves, Central; 1975 — Wade Houston, Male; 1976 — Richard Schmidt, Ballard; 1977 — Schmidt, Ballard; 1978 — Wayne Chapman, Apollo; 1979 — Charles “Jock” Sutherland, Lafayette; 1980 — Bobby Watson, Owensboro.

1981 — Barlow, Bryan Station; 1982 — Allen Feldhaus Sr., Mason County; 1983 — Craynor Slone, Carlisle County; 1984 — Gerald Sinclair, Logan County; 1985 — Glenn Collie, Seneca; 1986 — Feldhaus Sr., Mason County; 1987 — Bobby Keith, Clay County; 1988 — Keith, Clay County; 1989 — Keith, Clay County; 1990 — Gary French, Elizabethtown.

1991 — Nolan Barger, Tates Creek; 1992 — Danny Haney, Lexington Catholic; 1993 — Tim Davis, Marion County; 1994 — Billy Hicks, Corbin; 1995 — Gary Moore, Franklin County; 1996 — Curtis Turley, Greenwood; 1997 — Haney, Lexington Catholic; 1998 — Haney, Lexington Catholic; 1999 — Ernie Simpson, Bowling Green; 2000 — Jimmy Just, Iroquois.

2001 — Bryce Hibbard, Male; 2002 — Rodney Woods, Wayne County; 2003 — Kelly Wells, Mason County; 2004 — Wells, Mason County; 2005 — Mike Szabo, Trinity; 2006 — Buddy Biggs, Pendleton County; 2007 — Billy Hicks, Scott County; 2008 — Champ Ligon Jr., Bryan Station; 2009 — Jason Booher, Shelby Valley; 2010 — Szabo, Trinity.

2011 — Wayne Breeden, Tates Creek; 2012 – Allen Feldhaus Jr., Madison Central; 2013 – Feldhaus Jr., Madison Central; 2014 – Scott Ruthsatz, Covington Catholic; 2015 — Rod Drake, Owensboro; 2016 – Josh Cook, Mercer County; 2017 – Tim Sullivan, Cooper; 2018 – Hicks, Scott County.





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