Pictured: Pillow Head Coach Durwin Carpenter
Photo by Robert Smith

By Robert Wilson

Three Mississippi coaches – Pillow Academy’s Durwin Carpenter, Jackson Academy’s Jan Sojourner and Wayne County’s Gina Skelton – are in the top 10 in the active high school girls basketball coaches in the country with victories, according to a list put together by Kevin Askeland of MaxPreps. 

Carpenter is ranked third, Sojourner is tied for sixth and Skelton 10th entering the 2022-2023 season, according to the list.

Pictured: JA Head Coach Jan Sojourner
Photo by Robert Smith

With 10 wins this season, Carpenter now has 1,138 career wins. Carpenter, who has in his 49th season, has 781 wins in the last 29 seasons at Pillow and 357 wins in 20 seasons at Central Holmes Academy. The Grenada Rundle High, Holmes Community College and Delta State graduate has won 10 state titles and four Overall championships. 

Carpenter is second in Mississippi history in girls basketball wins behind Doyle Wolverton, who 1,249 games from 1975-2014 at Leake.

With seven wins this season, Sojourner now has 1,015 career wins. Sojourner, in her 43rd season, has 913 wins, a MAIS record six Overall Tournament championships and 10 state championships in 38 years at JA and 102 wins in five seasons at Canton Academy. The Copiah Academy and Mississippi College graduate is third behind Wolverton and Carpenter in career wins.

With six wins this season, Skelton now has 944 career wins. Skelton, in her 42nd season, has coached at Pickens, Ala. (two years), Carthage High (seven years), Forest High (10 years), Wayne County High (a combined 19 years, 12 the first time and now back for seven) and Quitman High (four years). The Waynesboro High and Mississippi University for Women graduate has won four state championships. Skelton also is the only woman in Mississippi history to coach a boys team (Forest High in 1995) to a MHSAA state tournament. Skelton is fourth in career wins behind Wolverton, Carpenter, and Sojourner.

Pictured: Wayne County Head Coach Gina Skelton

Lamar Rogers of Clarkrange, Tenn., has the most wins (1,289) among active girls basketball coaches in the country on this list going into the season. He started in 1976. Rhonda Farney of Georgetown, Texas, is second with 1,237 entering this season. She started in 1975.

South Pontotoc’s Bill Russell ranks No. 25 in the list and is fourth in Mississippi. With 12 wins this season, Russell has 782 wins in his 34th season. The South Pontotoc and Mississippi State graduate has coached at Senatobia High (eight years), Pontotoc (20 years) and South Pontotoc (six years) and won two state championships.