The memories continue this week.
Terrell graduated TCHS in 1995, the year the Wildcats won Wright’s first boys (and second overall) 5th District Tournament Championship. He went on to serve as an assistant coach during Wright’s second tenure from 2007-10.
Terrell was joined by fellow seniors Corey Alexander and Bradley Ledford on that ‘95 team, which lost in an overtime classic against Webster County in the first round of the 2nd Region Tournament. That talented squad also featured junior big-man Kevin Thomas and sophomore scoring guards Anthony Mayes and Chris Sparks.
“We had a good mix of leadership and talent,” Terrell said. “As far as preparation goes, we knew we weren’t real big, so we had to win with defensive pressure, speed and shooting.”
To play that style, the team had to get in better shape.
“The best thing we had was our conditioning,” Terrell said. “Between [Wright] and [assistant coach Glen] Ringstaff, we were extremely well-conditioned to play at the speed we played.”
Terrell said one of the most amazing things about Wright is his memory.
“He’s forgotten more basketball plays than most people will ever know,” Terrell said. “What impressed me on the coaching side was in the middle of a game or at the end, in a specific situation where we needed a basket, he’d call a time out and draw up a play the players and coaches had never seen. You don’t see that as a player. You just go do what the coach says. But the coaches are looking at each other and saying, ‘Where’d he get that from?’”
A legendary coach in his own right, Wallace had the pleasure of coaching Wright during his Wildcat playing days in the 1970s. While he said Wright “never met a shot he didn’t like,” Wallace said he knew he had a special player.
“I could tell early on that Mike had a lot of passion for the game of basketball,” Wallace said. “He had some ability, but he was not a great athlete. He made himself a good basketball player by being a student of the game and working at it.”
Wallace said he wasn’t surprised to see Wright turn his love of the game into a coaching career.
“He took to basketball like a duck to water,” Wallace said. “He told me that’s what he planned to do after college. Sometimes that wears off, but not with Mike. His enthusiasm and passion for the game are what impressed me more than anything.”
Wright was on Trigg’s first region champion cross country team, which was also coached by Wallace.
“I don’t know if he was trying to impress the basketball coach by running cross country, but he made himself into a good runner, too,” Wallace said.
Wallace and Wright both served long coaching careers at Trigg, and Wallace, recalling his own experience, said Wright’s ability to adapt to changes over the years helped him remain successful.
“A lot of things changed in the 30 years he was coaching,” Wallace said.
Wright lost his basketball head coaching job after the 2002 season, and rather than take opportunities to coach elsewhere, he remained loyal to his home school, coaching the middle school team and helping in other ways with the high school program.
“I always worried about Mike growing up and being mature about the coaching profession, but having lost his job and staying faithful to the school and the team, and being selected coach again – all of that really showed me that he’d come a long way,” Wallace said. “He always had the kids’ best interests at heart.”
Wright’s column recently featured a month-long retelling of the lost school bus during a girls basketball trip – which happened while Wallace was superintendent.
“He never put my name in that story because I was pretty hard on him,” Wallace said. “It’s light now, but it wasn’t light then.”
A number of folks can speak to Wright’s competitive nature, including Wallace, who serves as a consistent golf partner for Wright.
“He can make a competition out of almost anything because he dearly loves competition,” Wallace said. “And that makes him tough to beat at just about anything – except golf.”
Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.