Few high school girls basketball programs can claim a longer run of continual success than Ledford High School.
Under new management for the first time in nearly two decades, the Panthers look to renew their tradition with Chris Doby, who was hired Thursday to replace John Ralls as head coach. A graduate of East Davidson, Doby will have sizable shoes to fill. Ralls reached an exclusive club during the 2013 season by notching his 700th win before stepping down.
“It’s a big challenge,” Doby said. “It’s one thing if you’re taking over a program that has never had any winning tradition at all. I feel fortunate and honored to be able to step into this situation. When you’re following a legend, the kids know how to win.”
Doby was hired by the school in 2002 as a marketing teacher and assistant football coach. He served as JV girls basketball coach each of the last two seasons, leading the Panthers to back-to-back winning seasons and compiling a 38-6 record in two years at the helm.
He has coached football each year at Ledford and offers continuity that made athletic director Donald Palmer’s decision an easy one.
“We’re excited about Coach Doby being our girls basketball coach,” Palmer said. “We thought this would be the best fit for us to give us some stability. Coach Doby has a lot fire. He’s been proven he’s able to manage the game, and he does a good job of managing the game.”
As is true with any successful organization, the new leader is cognizant of what his predecessor did well and does not intend to reinvent the wheel. Ralls implemented a press-style defense that became a trademark over the last several years as teams fruitlessly attempted to execute their full and halfcourt offensive sets.
“I believe in man-to-man defense, I like to change defenses — which Coach Ralls was always good at — so we’re going to stick to that kind of stuff,” Doby said. “We’re going to be guard-sized, so we’re going to need to score. The girls are used to running motion offense, so we’re going to continue to run motion offense. But we’re going to have to win with defense and patient offense.”
Courtney Callicutt, Mackenzie Cranford, Julia Carroll, Alyssa Doby, Allie Fischer and Jordan Teer will be relied upon as key contributors to help Doby in his transition season. He loses seven seniors from a squad that made a deep run in the state playoffs.
Doby will no longer serve as assistant to Ledford tennis coach Randy Grimes, but retains duties as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator during football season. He counts Grimes, as well as Ralls and Scott Dalton, among his greatest coaching influences and is grateful to Max Cole — then principal at Ledford — for giving him his start.
“Coach Grimes and I have had an awesome relationship,” Doby said. “He’s a great mentor, he’s been coaching for 30 years. Things you learn from a Coach Ralls, a Coach Grimes, that’s hard to put a value on.”
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or email@example.com.