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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Jason Thompson New Olive Branch Girls Coach

Article and image from Clarion-Ledger.com



Olive Branch spent most of last season ranked No. 1 in the state before bowing out early in the Class 6A girls basketball tournament.

The Lady Quistors finished runner-up to rival Horn Lake for the state title in 2014-15, and the school hired Jason Thompson in hopes he can lead them to their first state title.

Thompson has won seven state championships, all at H.W. Byers, over the past 15 seasons and has a .712 winning percentage (353-143).

“It’s not an ordinary job,” said Thompson, who resigned from Byers in March. “Everybody knows about Olive Branch and is familiar with the program and the kids involved in the program. It will be a new situation for me, a different challenge and one I’m excited about taking on.”

Thompson said he didn’t expect to coach again, that he was looking toward administration. But he couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

Thompson replaced Blake Jones, who was 111-40 in five seasons before he took the Biloxi job in April. Thompson inherits a team that finished 27-3 before falling to Starkville in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs and arguably the best player in the state, Mississippi State commit Myah Taylor.

Taylor averaged 26.1 points with a season-high 47 against Horn Lake and averaged 6.9 assists, 5.8 steals and 4.1 rebounds. ESPN ranks Taylor as the No. 42 prospect in the class of 2017.

Taylor is Thompson’s fifth Dandy Dozen player he will coach. The other four went on to be Division I basketball players as well.

“It’s a good situation and a good problem to have, if you call it that,” said Thompson of coaching another Dandy Dozen player. “She’s a great kid. I’ve watched her and admired from afar. I’ve coached against them and have been to a lot of their games when they competed against Horn Lake. She’s going to be something good.”

Going from Class 2A to 6A is a challenge that Thompson has gladly accepted. But a bigger challenge lies inside the region. His wife, Janna, coaches Horn Lake.

Three years happily married, the competitive couple made a vow before tying the knot that their teams would not play one another. They coached against each other one time prior in the regular season, when Byers edged Horn Lake 52-49 in the Northwest Christmas Classic in 2008.

But now, they will play at least two, maybe three or four times in a season.

Jason’s Byers team had a run of eight straight years of going to the state tournament through the 2013-14 season while Janna’s Horn Lake squad did it six straight, with it coming to an end this season.

Horn Lake has won three state titles under Janna, and the road in North 6A just got harder for a couple of the class’s traditional powers.

“I know there’s a lot of anticipation and excitement,” Thompson said. “I’m ready to hit the ground running and give the kids everything I have. I hope they reciprocate that and go as far as we can go.

“(Class) 6A is a different brand of kids and how they play. (Class) 1A and 2A is a lesser version of that. My Dandy Dozens and teams could hold their own against 1A through 6A. This will be my first ride. Overall, it’s basketball. Olive Branch has been going and working with a well-oiled machine. The only thing missing is winning that final game and being called state champions.”

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