By Robert Wilson
David Horner and Bill Ball battled against each other as boys basketball coaches from 2007-2014 when Horner was at Jackson Prep and Ball was at Jackson Academy.
Now the two former rival coaches will be joined together at Hartfield.
Horner, the head of school at Hartfield, announced Wednesday Ball is the new boys basketball coach at Hartfield, replacing Steven Makamson, who resigned last week after seven seasons at head coach.
Ball comes to Hartfield from Starkville Academy, where he was the coach for the last two seasons. Ball was at JA for 18 seasons and is the winningest coach in school history. He has a career record of 570-159 with two MAIS Overall championships and four state titles in 20 seasons. The Starkville Academy and Mississippi State graduate also was a head coach at Arkansas-Monticello (two seasons) and an assistant coach at Mississippi State (two seasons), Delta State (one season) and Itawamba Community College (one season) before coming to JA in 2000. Ball won Overall championships at JA in 2004 and 2006.
Ball led Starkville to a 22-5 record this past season. Starkville upset defending MAIS Overall champion Simpson in the Class 4A state tournament semifinals and lost to Hartfield in the 4A state championship game. Class 3A state champion Clinton Christian Academy defeated Starkville in the Overall quarterfinals.
“Bill Ball has been extremely successful at every place he’s served,” Horner said. “I not only can speak to Coach Ball’s ability from the perspective of a basketball fan and observer, I spent many years competing directly against his teams as a coach as well. It is an understatement to say his teams were always prepared and he maximized whatever level of talent was on his teams. I can affirm from personal experience that Bill’s approach to leading our teams in the future will be one that fits with the mindset, mission, and expectations that represent our school. He’s an intense competitor with a proven track record of developing teams and players, mentoring young men, and building a community of support for a program.”
“I’m excited to be returning to the Jackson Metro area and being the next head coach at Hartfield,” Ball said. “Steven has done an outstanding job and hopefully we will be able to continue the success of Hartfield boys basketball as we move to 6A next year. I’m looking forward to getting to know the players and families that make Hartfield such a special place. I am grateful to be working with David Horner as our head of school and David Sykes at athletic director (who was formerly at JA with Ball). Hartfield is a special place and I am honored to be joining their staff.”
Ball loses Hartfield’s two stars – seniors Josh Lee and Jonathan Lucas – along with starters Jake Jesiolowski and Will Edwards to graduation. Lee averaged 17 points while Lucas averaged 13 points and led Hartfield to a 31-7 record, the Class 4A state title and an Overall semifinal finish.
Ball’s son, William, is a 6-foot-2 rising freshman point guard and could play varsity next season.