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Pace stepping down after 16 years at ECCC

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
April 28, 2001
DECATUR After 16 seasons as head women's basketball coach at East Central Community College, Sammy Pace has decided to call it quits.
During those 16 years, Pace led the Lady Warriors to a 279-157 record, including the only two women's national tournament appearances in school history.
The 1994 Lady Warriors finished seventh in the nation, while the 2001 team also reached the NJCAA Women's National Basketball Championship where it lost 74-73 to eventual national champion Cloud County (Kan.) in the first round.
Pace said going out with a national tournament team really wasn't his plan.
Pace was chosen Outstanding Region 23 Women's Basketball Coach and MACJC state Women's Basketball Coach of the Year in 1994.
Obviously, Pace will be taking a lot of good memories of his days at ECCC with him.
Another highlight came when ECCC cracked the NJCAA women's
poll for the first time.
The Lady Warriors were ranked as high as No. 3 under Pace.
A lot can happen with players over a 16-year period. Pace is proud of what the young women have accomplished after completing their time at the Decatur campus.
Before coming to ECCC, the Lake native had a high school coaching record of 134-57 with stops at Hickory, Scott Central, and Sebastopol. His 1979 Scott Central team won the Class BB state championship, beating South Pontotoc 51-49 in the finals.
The Scott Central girls went on to reach the finals of the MHSAA overall tournament where they lost 74-70 to Duck Hill in overtime.
Pace came to ECCC for the 1985-86 season, following Lucille Wood who had five state championships and five trips to regional tournaments.
Pace is leaving with six state tournament appearances and 11 Region 23 Tournament appearances.
Pace has also been athletic director at ECCC since July 1, 1992.
His successor is expected to be officially named in the May 8 meeting of the ECCC Board of Trustees.
Brad Hodge has been an assistant women's coach at ECCC the past two years.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.