Tucker boys basketball coach James Hartry has shown a knack for winning. He guided the Tigers (15-4) to a Class AAAA state championship in 2007, the finals in '05 and '09 and the semifinals in '06. Friday's 63-54 win over Carver and Saturday's 62-54 victory over Columbia catapulted Hartry to a milestone 200 wins.
Now 200-108 in 11 seasons with the Tigers, he spoke with Tucker Patch.
Q. What's been the key to basketball success at Tucker?
A. Having good players helps and having good support from the administration and the county is key, too. We've been able to put good players on the floor year in and year out. They're great kids from good homes and the parents have been very supportive. We've been blessed with guys who've bought into the program and have listened to what we're trying to teach them.
Q. What's your biggest memory of that championship in 2007?
A. That team was a very special team, a hard hat team. They showed up every practice. They were on a mission. That team really knew how special it was and played better each game of the (state) tournament. We never looked back once we got going.
Q. How tough was beating Columbia for the championship, after losing twice to them in that 31-2 season?
A. One thing (Columbia) did was be good, almost as good as we were. We knew we were good as well and knew we could beat them. We played a great game in that final, trapped all over the floor and played great defense. We played a lot of zone and changed up our defense almost every time down the floor, and that threw them off. We kept changing things up on them.
Q. What's it like this year atop Region 6-AAAA, Division A?
A. Everybody plays Tucker hard. Everybody brings their 'A' game when they play us because they know what we stand for. They know we're going to get after them, though.
Q. How fanatic are Tucker fans anyway?
A. These fans here know about winning. They're excited by our product on the floor. We have the greatest fans in the state, not just the student body, but the community as a whole expects to win. We couldn't do it without them. They're like our sixth man. They definitely pack in, and the football players have their own section as well.
Q. After two years of playing home games at Tucker middle, what's it like to have a new, state-of-the-art gym?
A. It feels good to have your own floor. You don't have to load your kids up and go across town to practice. It feels awesome to be at home. It's something very new to a lot of our players. We felt very comfortable in just two games at home so far and love the atmosphere. It was a lot different finally playing at home. I'm pinching myself every day in this gym, realizing I'm coaching here.
Q. What's the secret to longevity as a basketball coach?
A. You have to have a great wife and two great daughters like I do. They love and support me, and (players) know my wife like their mother. Their support alone keeps me going. You have to win players over and get them to believe in themselves. I've developed more than a basketball team. I've developed a program here. Playing for me, you know what you'll get.
Q. If not basketball, what other sport would you be coaching?
A. I've always loved baseball growing up. I'd love to coach baseball in high school. That's one of (the) best sports.
Q. What's coaching's biggest challenge?
A. You've got to get kids to understand what you want them to do. There's so much going on (administratively) at once. It's pretty much a year-round. I have to outwork that coach across town to be successful.
Q. How does this year's team compare to other year's?
A. This team here has an opportunity to win it all, but we're still working on getting kinks out. I'm still not comfortable with how we start games off. This team has more fundamentals. They may not be quite as athletic, but they have more fundamentals. On the high school level, fundamentals are what wins.