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Tolley headed back home

After three seasons at JCHS, Girls Basketball Coach Leon Tolley has stepped down. Tolley informed the team Friday that he would be taking the position as Junior High Varsity Coach in Hampton. Tolley came to JCHS from Hampton High School, where he took the Lady Bulldogs to three state tournaments. Photo by Joey Icenhour

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor

When legendary Girls Basketball Coach Leon Tolley came to Johnson County from Hampton four years ago, everybody on the planet knew he would end up being the head coach of the lady Longhorns. Three years later, he would make school history with a team that won 23 games and made it to the Regional Tournament for the first time in over two decades. 

Tolley’s historic tenure as trail boss of the Lady Longhorns ended on Friday when he informed the team and administration that he was headed back home to Hampton to coach his son’s junior high varsity team. It was a hard decision for Tolley, who rarely got to see his son play last season. He said it was a difficult decision to make.

“We all shed a lot of tears when I told the team,” said Tolley. “I wouldn’t be much of a parent if I turned down this opportunity. My son might regret it, but I won’t. Johnson County was really good for me, and I couldn’t have worked at a better school or coached better kids than I had. I’ll never forget my time up here or the people. The girl’s basketball program and Johnson County will always have a special place in my heart.”

As a head coach at Hampton, he took the Lady Bulldogs to three state tournaments and nearly did that with the Lady Longhorns during their 23-win season. They lost at South Greene in a game they led by one with a minute and two seconds remaining in the game and played without their leading scorer Taylor Cox who was out due to illness.

Tolley also noted that his dad was getting up in age, allowing him a chance to be close to home. Tolley has coached the junior high Bulldogs before, so it should be an easy transition for him. He doesn’t know who his successor will be but hopes they offer it to his assistant coach for the past three seasons, Kechia Eller. 

“I believe that she would do a great job,” said Tolley. She has been right alongside Coach Smith and me, so I feel like she is ready.”

Tolley also mentioned his appreciation for Dr. Mischelle Simcox and Dr. Stephen Long. “I couldn’t have worked for two better people,” he said. “They simply were the best.”

Tolley won 40 games in his three seasons as head coach of the Lady Longhorns.