The Fort Loudoun Middle School Braves boys basketball program will have a new leader roaming the bench.
Patrick Bethel, FLMS principal, on May 13 announced Justin Greer as the new head boys coach following Joel Bailey’s single-season stint at the helm.
“So for basketball, Justin has several years experience of coaching. He’s coached high school and been a head coach in middle school for eight years and had great, great success and great relationships with his kids and the community,” Bethel said. “He was moving down this direction, we had a position available and he was qualified for the position.”
Greer previously served as head coach at Chilhowee Middle School, where he led the Bobcats to a 75-34 overall record. He then became a high school assistant and middle school head coach at Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.
He spent time last season as a referee with the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association.
A graduate of Polk County High School, Greer is familiar with the area and was intrigued by the idea of helping grow Loudon High School’s pipeline.
“I had refereed through last year and had talked to a couple of people who had mentioned to me that positions may be coming available in Loudon and asked if I would put my name in,” Greer said. “I know they have a good resume from basketball. Obviously, with the past few years with the high school doing so well, and I know last year they did a fantastic job, even knocking off the one seed in Polk (County) last year, which was a good thing. The opportunity to come help and build on the legacy of the high school thing it’s been doing, I’m just excited for that opportunity to get up there and get started myself.”
Greer hopes to instill an “exciting culture” and create an aggressive defensive philosophy.
“I know one thing, I’m very excitable, I’m very fiery,” he said. “Defense is our strong suit. It’s been my biggest strong suit over the last five years, and that’s what we built at Chilhowee ... physical, just play hard. Games are exciting to watch because the way I coach things, the way that my program does is boys hit the floor, ball’s on the floor, we hit the floor, hustle plays. There’s more to basketball than just being a 20- or 30-point scorer. You’ve got to do some other things.
“Our defense will lead to our offense in that aspect, and that’s one thing I know I bring very well,” he added. “Well-coached, hard-coached kids that have a love for the game that just fight and that’s a big thing. I know in Loudon, there’s a bigger thing than pride.”
Bethel believes Greer is the right fit and could have the Braves in the mix for the Area 3 championship every year.
“He does a great job of building relationships with his students and his athletes,” Bethel said. “He understands the importance of the classroom and managing and making sure that his students are prepared on the floor and in the classroom. He’ll do a great job of teaching them and training them on and off the court.”
The team is still awaiting approval from Loudon County Schools and could return as soon as June 1.
Greer will hit the ground running once cleared and will emphasize fundamentals.
“With the coronavirus, we have to wait for the state to give us the green light to go. We’re hoping within the first couple of weeks in June, we can figure something out,” he said. “Get tryouts out and go ahead and get the kids in the gym. It may be modified for a little bit until we figure out what to do, but hopefully within the next month or so at least is our hope.”
Lady Braves make hire
Bethel followed up Monday afternoon to officially announce Virgil McKee as the new head basketball coach for the Lady Braves.
McKee comes from Johnson City where he served as an assistant coach at Elizabethton and Volunteer high schools for a combined 13 years. He played an integral part in helping the EHS Lady Cyclones clinch the Class 2A state championship during the 2013-14 season.
“Obviously, we had a pretty successful run there with the girls and the JV girls my first year there, we were the champions,” he said. “We went to championship game two years after that, lost in double overtime, so obviously those girls helped out at the varsity level. Last year, we were region champions, beating the No. 1 team on their home floor. We played in our first sub-state game in about four or five years.”
McKee has not had a chance to meet the team but is willing to adapt his style of play to fit personnel.
The Lady Braves struggled last season, and McKee is wanting to take the necessary steps to turn the program around.
“We’ve got to come in and find out are we able to press, can we dribble drive, are you going to run a two-post offense, are you going to run a one-post offense, five guards?” McKee said. “I won’t know any of that until we get in the door there because you’ve got to wait and see what girls show back up. I’m just looking to build on that success and, hopefully, get them over the hump to basically competing for a championship.”