There were times when Aiken girls basketball coach Aubrey Pompey would look at game film and shake his head.
His team would play defense for a while, and when it finally got the ball, it would hurry and take a shot.
And then it would all happen again.
But Pompey, who has coached basketball for more than 30 years, wouldn’t stand for that. And this season, the Lady Hornets used a combination of good defense and patient offense to go 19-8 and advance to the Class AAAA state semifinals/Lower State championship. With that great season, Pompey is The Augusta Chronicle’s South Carolina Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
“We’d play defense for a long period of time, then we’d go down and shoot quickly. Then we’d come back, play defense a long period of time and we’d shoot quickly,” Pompey said. “I’m going, ‘I don’t like this picture.’ So, we had some adjustment.”
On offense, Erin Gilmore was usually the main threat, but Aiken would also pass the ball around, searching for the good shot. The patience was at its best in the state playoffs, as the Lady Hornets won three games by a total of 55 points.
Aiken’s run ended against Dutch Fork, but it was one of the last four teams standing, and got there by winning two road games.
“It worked for us, especially when we played against teams who like to control the game with running,” Pompey said. “It really keeps us competitive.”
Comparing basketball with a chess match, Pompey says he has fun preparing for certain styles as he matches wits with others. Lately, Aiken’s style has worked, as the Lady Hornets minimized turnovers to win.
But despite all those victories, the coach finds importance elsewhere.
“It’s not all about winning,” he said. “It’s fun, and if you coach, you want to win. But the excitement for me is to see the young ladies develop and grow up and be off to school and see them be productive citizens.”