By Robert Wilson

Mark Alexander has won four MAIS Overall championships as an assistant coach at Madison-Ridgeland Academy, three boys titles under Richard Duease – Mississippi’s high school basketball leader in career victories – and one girls title under Stephen Force.

Now, Alexander will try to do it as a head coach.

The Forest Hill High and Mississippi State graduate was named the Hartfield Academy girls basketball coach Wednesday.

Alexander replaces Benton Ingram, who resigned his position after three seasons to concentrate on his position as Student Life Director where he directs Hartfield’s mission trips, chapels, class retreats, disciplineship groups, etc. and will be expanding his responsibilities next year. Ingram had an 89-21 record – a winning percentage of 80.9 percent – in his three seasons.

“I would like to thank God, without Him, none of this would be possible,” Alexander said. “I’ve prayed a lot for this moment. I’m certain God opened this door for me. I would like to thank (Hartfield head of school) David Horner and (Hartfield athletic director) David Sykes for believing in me and entrusting me with the girls basketball program at Hartfield. I’m very humbled, very blessed and very thankful for this opportunity.

“I’ve got some big shoes to fill. Benton has done a fantastic job with this program. He has had great success during his tenure. I know there will be a lot of pressure and expectations that come with the job, especially with so many key players coming back. I plan on working very hard and doing the best job I can to put these girls in the best position to help them achieve their goals. I’m looking forward to getting to know the girls and building relationships with them.”

“The characteristics that stand out the most are Coach Alexander’s experience, his dedication and love for teaching the game of basketball, and his desire to be a part of the Hartfield community,” said Horner and Sykes in a school release. “Beyond simply successful results, Coach Alexander has a desire and knowledge for teaching the game of basketball. From studying game film to working on the details that every winning team requires, it is an understatement to say his teams are always prepared and he maximizes the talent on each team. Coach Alexander’s knowledgeable, humble, and engaged spirit will be an addition to our entire staff.” 

Alexander has plenty to work with. He returns four starters from last year’s team that finished 28-7, was the MAIS Class 6A runner-up and reached the Overall semifinals. Ma’Nia Womack, a 5-foot-11 junior guard, was named to the third team of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Team this season.

Hartfield and Leake, which returns all five starters from this year’s Overall runner-up team, are considered the favorites to win Overall next season.

Alexander comes to Hartfield after spending the past eight seasons at MRA, the first two girls and the last six boys where he was a part of six state championship teams (one girls and five boys).

Before coming to MRA, Alexander was head boys coach at Manchester Academy for one year and Starkville Academy for three years. He named District Coach of the Year at each school. At Starkville, Alexander led his team to an upset over MRA to end MRA’s 77-game winning streak against MAIS teams.

Alexander was also head girls coach for two seasons and boys for one season at now-defunct Tennessee Temple Academy in Chattanooga where he was named District Coach of the Year for the girls his first season. In first year in coaching, Alexander led the Tennessee Temple girls to 17 wins, nine more than the previous year, were co-district champions and won a road playoff game for the first time in school history.

Many Mississippi sports fans may also remember Alexander when he was a sportswriter for The Clarion-Ledger from 1994 to 2006, covering high schools, colleges, and the golf writer.

Alexander played football, basketball, and baseball at Forest Hill, played one year of basketball at Belhaven and served as a men’s basketball manager for three seasons under Richard Williams at MSU. 

Alexander works with Doug Colson on Mississippi Sports This Morning sports talk radio show from 6-8 a.m. weekdays on 106.3 FM and 1400 AM. 

Former Hartfield head boys coach Steven Makamson will be Alexander’s top assistant. Makamson resigned to enter private business last year after seven seasons as head coach. He led Hartfield to a 31-7 record, a MAIS Class 4A state title and an Overall semifinal finish in his last season in 2020-2021. Makamson also was head boys coach at Pillow for six seasons and guided the Mustangs to two Overall semifinal appearances.