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BHS taps former ICC coach for basketball

The Belgreen Bulldogs have tapped a former community college coach to take over their boys’ basketball program.

Marty Cooper served as the head basketball coach at Itawamba Community College from 1998-2012 before he retired. While at Itawamba, Cooper coached his team to four league titles, took three trips to the National Tournament – 2002, 2007 and 2008 – and won the league, state and Region 23 in 2008. His team finished the season ranked fifth in the nation with a 30-4 record.

 “He brings a wealth of knowledge and many years of experience to our boys’ team. The style of play he is accustomed to at the college level will definitely be a positive factor in helping our guys be prepared for the season,” said new Belgreen principal Derek Ergle. “We are excited to have Coach Cooper join our program.”

Cooper also coached at East Central Community College in Decatur, Miss., where he guided his team to the state championship in 1993.

“I am really excited about the opportunity at Belgreen,” said Cooper. “Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Ergle really sold us on the school, the community and the passion for basketball at Belgreen. Everyone we have met has really been supportive and has had nothing but positive things to say about the current players.”

Cooper is bringing along a familiar face as his assistant coach – his wife, Jennifer, who “was my assistant all 21 years of my head coaching experience,” said Cooper.

Jennifer Cooper played basketball at Miami University in Ohio and is a full-time instructor at Itawamba Community College. The couple have been married for 28 years and have one daughter, McKenzie, 19.

“We stopped coaching in 2012 so we could spend more time with McKenzie, who was 12 at the time,” said Cooper. “I have missed coaching and the competition, but I am glad we stepped away. We have no regrets.”

Cooper will be focused on building a lasting program at Belgreen.

“We want to build a program the school and community can be proud of on and off the court,” Cooper explained. “We want our players to be successful as a people, as students and as players.

“I am a man of faith, and we feel blessed to have this opportunity and cannot wait to get started.”