Chambers Academy’s Jeff Hines named All-Valley girls’ Coach of the Year in first year

Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 5, 2020

After leading the Chambers Academy girls’ basketball team to its first-ever state championship appearance, head coach Jeff Hines has been named the All-Valley girls’ Head Coach of the Year.

“I had some really good players,” Hines said. “When you have really good players, that makes you look like a really good coach. They bought into what I was selling and how we wanted to do things. When you go on a ride that we went on, it is nothing but fun.” 

In his first year as the Rebels’ head coach, Hines led the Rebels to a 16-8 record, which included a pair of playoff wins. The Rebels won their region for the second year in a row and were able to overcome Wilcox Academy, who knocked them out of the playoffs the previous year. 

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Only one of the Rebels’ losses was against a Class A AISA team, which was Southern in the state championship game. 

Two of those losses came in one week when the Rebels lost by 40 to Lee-Scott at home and by 12 to Springwood on the road. Hines had a simple message for his team after those two games — just move past it. 

“When we lost by 40 to Lee-Scott, that was a moment where we really could have wallowed around and felt sorry for ourselves,” Hines said. “I went into the locker room and just said ‘it was one of those days. Let’s learn from it and just flush it.’

That’s exactly what the Rebels did for the rest of the season. They rattled off seven straight wins, which helped clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs and advanced the Rebels to the championship game.

“That was the turning point in the season,” Hines said. “It was almost like it was a wake-up call for us to say ‘Hey, you know, we might not be as good as Lee-Scott, but we’re definitely not 40 points worse than they are. We just took that momentum and went with it from that point on.”

The 2019-20 Rebels played with just eight players the entire season. This forced Hines to practice differently. Instead of playing a five-on-five scrimmage, he played four-on-four. Whenever they needed five girls to be on the same team, he worked with the JV boys’ team to play against his squad.

“We practice the JV boys later in the season, which I thought was very beneficial for us,” Hines said. “Yes it’s different, but I could get a good picture of the girls basically being at the right spot at the right time when they’re supposed to be there. That’s the whole thing. If you can get your players to be where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there, everything else is going to take care of itself.”

The Rebels return six of their eight players, including four starters from the 2019-20 season. Hines expects for all six to improve their individual games as well as get stronger, especially in their cores. 

“I look for all six to make individual improvements,” Hines said. “The biggest thing that I’ve talked to John Owens [Chambers Academy softball coach] is that we need to get stronger in our core. When you talk about the core, you’re talking about hips and being able to jump stops and do things that can get us over the hump.”