May 19, 2014 10:21:28 PM
WEST POINT -- Oak Hill Academy basketball coach Brian Middleton has had so much fun coaching the boys team at the school, he has decided to double that pleasure.
Middleton has now also been named the girls coach at Oak Hill. Longtime Oak Hill girls coach Stan Hughey resigned at the conclusion of the season, his 20th at the school.
"For the continuity of the program, (the administration) thought this was the best thing to do," Middleton said. "I have been working with Coach Hughey for the last couple of years. So this will keep some familiarity in the program. That is the best thing to keep all of this together going forward."
This past season, the Oak Hill boys set numerous school records, while finishing 22-12. The Raiders played in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA North State championship for the first time and advanced to the MAIS Class AA state tournament.
During the season, the Raiders notched a rare road win at Canton Academy and also knocked off top-ranked Leake Academy at home. Leake Academy returned the favor by knocking off Oak Hill in that North State championship game.
The Oak Hill girls also advanced to the Class AA state tournament, finishing with a 24-8 overall mark.
"Obviously, the girls program is in a much different place than the boys program was when I took over," Middleton said. "We had to start from scratch and build up with the boys program. The girls are already one of the traditional powers. When you inherit a team like that, it is all about passion and desire. We want to continue to play with passion and we want to build on the success of the past. There is no reason why we can't take both of these (teams) to even greater heights."
Hughey won 453 games during his 20-year coaching career at Oak Hill. The 2013 Dispatch Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, Hughey made the Oak Hill program one of the most feared throughout the state.
For the Oak Hill boys, the climb to the upper echelon has been long. However, Middleton sees similarities in the quest to keep both programs competing for championships.
"We are real excited to get started with the girls program," Middleton said. "It's a really unique opportunity and now the time is right. The right plan is in place for the girls program. We will just tweak a first things and change some aspects of the system. The girls are very excited. Sometimes, change is exciting because you don't really know what is going to come along with it."
Middleton, who has guided the Oak Hill boys for six seasons, plans a different approach during the summer for each squad. The Oak Hill boys will play in a couple of camps, as well as playing several summer league games. Middleton said the Oak Hill girls will spent most of the summer in the gym working on some minor changes to the system, while Middleton learns the players and vice versa.
"The support for basketball is very strong at this school," Middleton said. "The girls basketball team has a lot of tradition and people know what to expect when they take the floor. We are getting there with the boys program. This is an exciting time to be a part of the growth of each program."
Follow Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter