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By Josh Cook
Landmark News Service
Jason Holland has already won two Eighth Region basketball titles. He hopes to capture another next season.
“What I want to do is win the Eighth Region,” Holland, who guided the Oldham County boys to back-to-back regional championships in 2011-12, said after he was introduced as the new girls’ basketball coach at Shelby County High School on Wednesday. “We want to get Shelby County back to where they’re used to going, and that’s winning the Eighth.”
Shelby County last won the region title in 2007, three years before the scholl “split” (to form Collins High School) decimated the program. The Rockets went 53-55 over the past four seasons – but 50-33 over the last three - including 18-10 last season under Mike Sowers, who resigned last week to take an administrative position at Western Hills.
After suffering only one significant loss to graduation (forward Nikki Simmons), Shelby County should return its top four scorers – Mackenzie Raizor, Justus Martin, Savannah Raizor and Katie Hudgens - and top three rebounders – Martin and the Raizors - from a team that advanced to the region tournament for the first time since 2010. The Rockets fell 78-73 in overtime to Gallatin County in the first round of the region tourney in early March.
“I think we have a chance to compete for the Eighth,” Holland said.
An opportunity to coach, what he called “one of the best girls’ programs [in the state],” as well as his daughter, lured Holland to Shelby County. His daughter, Zoey, will be an eighth-grader at East Middle.
“She’s one of the reasons why I explored this other side [of coaching],” he said.
Holland, 39 and a graduate of Red Bird High School and Berea College, had significant success as a boys’ coach over the past 10 seasons in Kentucky (he also was the head coach at a school in Florida for one season before that), going 184-117 at Henry, Oldham and, most recently, Montgomery counties and winning those aforementioned region titles.
This past season, his only one at Montgomery, he guided the Indians to a 29-3 record before resigning in the spring. Montgomery ranked 15th in the state in scoring last season, but in the past Holland has built his reputation as a defensive-minded coach (his 2011-12 Oldham County team allowed only 45.5 points per game to its opponents). He’ll bring that same defensive philosophy to Shelby County.
“We’re going to play multiple defenses,” he said.
Meanwhile on the offensive end, Holland said, “We’re going to get our good players the ball in the places that they can be successful.”
Holland has successfully sent 13 former player onto college and hopes to continue that trend at Shelby County.