Lumberton basketball has hired two new coaches for both its boys’ and girls’ basketball programs.
The hirings come after Toriano Edwards decided to depart from Lumberton after three years.
Lamar County Athletic Director Patrick Lee said that finding two separate coaches was a top priority during the coaching searches.
“In the past, we have had ask Coach Edwards to coach boys and girls,” Lee said. “He did a great job. He had a lot of success, but that’s asking a lot for one person to devote that much attention to two different groups and expecting them to maintain that level of competitiveness. To get the programs to the next level, when the opportunity presented itself to change, we felt it was important to divide that up. We felt like it was a good opportunity to spread it out and give everybody a little more attention than they deserve.”
Taking over a boys program that finished with a 12-8 record and won the 1A Region District tournament will be first-year coach Jay Lofton. Last season, Lofton served as an assistant coach at Biloxi High School, which finished with a 24-5 record and ended its season in the 6A semifinals. Prior to Biloxi, Lofton was also an assistant coach at Oak Grove for Laron Brumfield for two seasons.
“He interviewed with us and was our top applicant. It was a really great interview,” Lee said, “They seem like they really have their stuff together and is passionate about the sport and is ready to hit the ground running. He has meshed well with the kids so far.”
According to Lofton, the program has much potential based on what he has been able to see from his team during summer workouts.
“I’ve always known that being a small school that Lumberton has a lot of great athletes,” Lofton said. “What I have seen this summer from our guys is that they are winners and extremely competitive even though we have only been able to do individual workouts because of the virus. They are also extremely competitive and are really great athletes even for a school that has 170 kids in total. Three of the four seniors on my team have college football offers already.
Now leading the girls’ program will be the recently retired Portland Brown. Brown had coached at Sumrall High School for 14 years before retiring at the end of this past year. In her final season with the Bobcats, Sumrall finished 14-11 season and made a second-round playoff appearance.
Brown will be taking the job in a part-time role and will officially be able to take the job after waiting 90 days due to a district rule. Last season, Lumberton finished 17-8 and was runner-up in its district tournament.
“We are definitely excited,” Lee said. “Portland has been in it for a long time. She coached at Taylorsville and Sumrall for a long time. She brings a well of knowledge to the table and is well respected in the coaching community. She is a great role model for our female athletes and not just in basketball but for all of our female athletes. She is a great addition to our faculty and staff at Lumberton.”
For Brown stepping away from the game basketball during her retirement was never an option but becoming a head coach again was a surprise.
“I didn’t think I would be coaching when I retired,” Brown said. “My retirement just started, but I didn’t think I would be coaching this soon. I knew I would be helping in basketball in some type of capacity, but I didn’t think I would be coaching.
“I still have love for the game I felt like the Lumberton situation would be a good situation. They have a good group of girls coming back. They lost two or three (notable players), but they have a good group coming back. Playing them last year, I thought they had the potential to go to state. I felt like it was a good situation.”