After 16 years, five championships, dozens of playoff appearances and more than 300 wins, the dean of Walton County basketball is hanging up his whistle.
Mark Davis will step down as the head coach of the Loganville Christian Academy boys basketball program at the end of the season to go back into ministry full time.
“It was just time,” Davis said.
While the Lions still have one final regular season game and a region tournament to play, Davis was able to go out a winner in the building he literally helped build back in 2008 with a 56-39 win over Prince Avenue Christian.
“No doubt the best game we’ve played all year,” Davis said of the win. “We’ve struggled this season. Losing four guys that would have started for us hurt. But the guys that have played for us have played their tails off. I couldn’t ask them to play any harder than they do and they finally got rewarded.”
Larry Kennedy led the way the way for LCA with 25 points followed by Cam Fryar with 13. Hunter Hampton had a strong game defensively as well.
Following the win, many former players, parents and long-time members of the school flocked to Davis to congratulate him on a stellar career.
But reflecting on the success of his program over the past 16 years, Davis noted that a few key additions here and there helped take LCA to the next level — Pieces such as former Georgia Tech star Daniel Miller who now plays professionally in Europe.
“We started winning a few games early and then kids would come,” Davis said of LCA sustained success over the years. “Basketball is a different animal than football. If we get two guys a year, it can really allow us to do something. We have a really good program all the way down to the middle school level, but every year it seems like we would get that piece we needed. It’s been a lot of fun.
Davis has always been a big proponent of coaching kids in more than the sports of basketball. In a 2017 column for The Tribune, Davis laid out his philosophy on coaching.
“Every coach wants to win championships. It has been my honor and my privilege to win five state titles as LCA’s men’s basketball coach. But the greatest titles are not the ones marked by metal trophies,” Davis wrote. “The great wins are the ones where a former player recalls the lesson from his playing days of perseverance during difficult hours, teamwork, respect for others, respect for authority, and how to prioritize their life. The great victories are won long after the player puts the ball down.
“The greatest things about athletics are the invaluable lessons that an athlete can learn about how to live life. A small percentage of student-athletes get to go on to the college ranks and pursue their sport on the intercollegiate level.”
As for what it’s going to be like now that he’s not coaching? Davis has a few ideas
“I’m going to come to the games and I’m going to criticize all the coaches like they did to me all these year,” Davis jokingly says with a big grin. “But I really and truly want to still be a presence here. I still love the kids and the school, but God’s just calling me in another direction.
“I tell these kids all the time ‘You’ve gotta do what God leads you to do.’ Well I’ve got to be as obedient myself. I’m going to miss it, but I have no regrets.”