Since taking the head coaching job at Oak Grove years ago, Laron Brumfield had been working towards giving a talent-filled area the success that it deserved.
Brumfield helped guide Oak Grove to its first-ever semifinal appearance in Jackson and an 18-4 overall record, which earned him the honor of Pine Belt Sports Boys Coach of the Year.
“When you sit down and think about it, ‘You think, ‘wow Oak Grove went to the Final Four in basketball,’” Brumfield said. “Who would have thought that?”
Oak Grove went through four coaching changes in four seasons prior to Brumfield’s hiring. After watching so many talented teams suffer because of the inconsistency, Brumfield’s main goal was to create a stable program.
“I think it was an unbelievable season,” Brumfield said. “To get to the Final Four and look at from where you started, not necessarily with this group of guys, but (when there was) no stability in the program. I remember going through the interview process and saying we have the talent out here, but we don’t have that stability. It’s hard to set goals because the philosophy was changing every year. With the coaching philosophy turning over, there was no culture. To see what we started with from just having a basketball program, and now we have a basketball culture.”
At the same time, Brumfield was able to enjoy the success with his son Dylan, who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game this season, which made the season’s success even more special.
“I’ve been coaching since he was five years old, starting in baseball,” Brumfield said. “We have had a lot of special moments. To see how he has grown from a boy growing to a young man physically to now, being on the court with him and seeing how special he is and how he plays the game. (Seeing) the stuff he had picked up from just listening to me at the house when he was in middle school, and I was coaching.”
For Brumfield, the proudest moment of the season was Oak Grove’s overtime playoff win against Terry as his team rallied from a five-point deficit with less than two minutes left in the game.
“The win at Terry, I thought, was the best one,” Brumfield said. “We had a great game plan. We were in control of the game and played well the entire game. Even though we were down in the first quarter, we were playing well we just needed to make shots.
“That was the game that I thought we had more pressure on us than anything because that was the game we had been losing in the playoffs. That has been our Achilles heel. To get there and win that game there was no doubt. I knew we were going to be playing well enough to be in Jackson.”
However, Brumfield credits the program’s turnaround success and season success to his players, assistant coaches, and everyone else who had shared support.
“It was special to be on the sidelines to coach them,” Brumfield said. “Really, all of those kids, especially with the seniors, they all grew up together. I’ve been knowing them and their parents for a long time.
“I can’t say that I’ve done it by myself. I’ve had great coaching staffs, really good players, good parents, a good administration and all of that means a lot. You can’t do something like this by yourself. I give glory to God.”