McKenzie likes to press opponents, especially full court, and it doesn’t matter which team he coaches. In his career, he’s taken both the Silver Bluff boys and girls teams to the Lower State final, with the boys’ trip happening this season. After that playoff showing, McKenzie is The Augusta Chronicle’s South Carolina Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
“We’ve got kids, and maybe it’s the winning tradition of the 30-plus years at this school, that want to win,” McKenzie said. “It’s, ‘Hey we’re the better team. Regardless of the sport, we’re going to win.’ ”
He won more than 100 games as the Lady Bulldogs head coach before he took over the boys team before the 2011-2012 season. Because the two teams often traveled together and McKenzie coached some of the boys in middle school football, the transition wasn’t difficult.
This season, the Silver Bluff boys were a No. 3-seed entering the Class AA state tournament. But three wins in a row sent the Bulldogs to the Lower State final against eventual state champion Lake Marion. Donte Wright and Jaylen Lawrence were the big scorers during the season, with Wright posting 18.1 points per game.
This year’s run means McKenzie followed the girls program’s playoff victories with some for the boys.
The coach thinks the students’ drive and the attitude – the belief that Silver Bluff will win – has led to playoff runs for both basketball teams and other school squads.
“Whatever five I put out there, whatever 11 we put on the football field, whatever nine we put out there on a baseball field, they all play as hard as they possibly can,” McKenzie said. “That’s what I like about coaching here.”