In the search to find their new head basketball coach, East Lawrence turned to a familiar face from the past.
Baine Garner, who coached the Eagles from 2000 to 2006 has been chosen to return to lead the Eagles program.
Garner, who is currently the principal of East Lawrence Middle School, takes over for Marrieo Davis, who stepped down after seven seasons at the helm.
East Lawrence High School Principal Ron Rikard said it was a no brainer in making the hire.
“No coach in the past 30 years has had the success that Coach Garner had in his time here,” he said. “I had the opportunity to be one of his first assistants when I was doing my student teaching so I know exactly what he’s all about.”
Rikard said to him there was no other option.
“He was always my top choice,” he said. “But he was insistent on me doing a coaching search. I think that speaks to the character of Coach Garner.”
Garner did have a significant level of success in his six seasons at the helm of the Eagles’ program. From the 2001-02 season to the 2004-05 Garner had a combined record of 98-25 with three area championships and two trips to the Elite Eight.
Excitement from a community that remembers the Eagles’ success under Garner has been high.
“He has coached these kids in youth basketball, travel basketball and been a principal to them in middle school,” Rikard said. “All I’ve heard is excitement from the players and community.”
Rikard hopes that Garner can resurrect a historically good program that has fallen on hard times, coming off three straight losing seasons.
“When you bring in a veteran coach that has been to Wallace State multiple times, the guys listen,” said Rikard. “The players have been bought in from day one.”
East Lawrence has a young program filled with young players so Rikard felt that the time was right to bring Garner back to help mold the future.
“I believe anytime you have the opportunity to hire a season veteran that has the resume Coach Garner has you should jump at it,” he said. “Molding young basketball players is just a given when you look at his history of coaching.”