Valley’s Marshon Harper named VTN basketball Coach of the Year

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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Twenty-four years. That’s how long Marshon Harper has worked to get the Valley Rams a state championship, and he accomplished it with an undefeated season.

Harper’s ability to put together a super team earns him the Valley Times-News Coach of the Year award.

Harper is a Valley High alumnus and had never been to the state championship prior to 2023, but his patience paid off and the whole city of Valley is able to celebrate the Rams’ title.

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Harper couldn’t be more ecstatic to win his first state championship.

“This is a lot of stuff off my shoulder,” Harper said.

“Twenty-four years. I’ve been trying to do this for 24 years. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to go to other places, but I wanted to do it at my home town. I wanted to stay. I can remember these kids being fourth graders with my son and saying, ‘Dad, we’re going to win a state title.’ They proved it.”

Harper and his team pulled off several milestones this season, and he knows how hard it is to win every game in a season.

“It’s very hard,” Harper said.

“Every game, you have a target on your back. Someone wants to say they can beat you, but it’s a testament to the players. I want to give my hats off to the coaching staff. They’ve done an unbelievable job. The kids just bought in. We want to be champions. Let’s do something special. They bought in from June 1. I’m proud of them.”

Harper made history throughout the entire season, and the Rams quietly made their name known.

The Rams were involved in some close games, including a three point win over Callaway on Dec. 10.

Valley became the final undefeated team in the state of Alabama after the regional round thanks to Buckhorn beating Pinson Valley, but the Rams still didn’t earn their respect.

Harper feels like he’s earned the right to be mentioned with some of the greatest basketball coaches in Chambers County history.

“It means the world to me,” Harper said.

“I could be in the conversation with Richard Carter. I could he in a conversation with Arthur Dunn. I’m the only one that won a state title at Valley High School. That’s special. I played at Valley High. I sweat blue and orange. To win it like this is special.”

Harper knows how much the win means for the community, especially after having a whole posse greet the team at the school when the boys got home from Birmingham.

“I don’t want to tell my age, but I can see kids out there that I coached. It’s just an unbelievable community. They supported us in every game. We have a sold out crowd every game. They believed in us. I’m proud to bring this back to the city.”

Harper feels like the state finally respects his program after the championship.

“We’re 33-0. A lot of teams can’t say that,” Harper said.

“We completed the mission. They’ll be back. We want to be under the radar. I don’t look at what we’re ranked at. I just want to play ball.”

This was by far Harper’s most successful season as the Rams went 18-8 last season and 14-8 in 2021.

It’s been quite the climb for the Rams as the program has steadily improved since going 3-22 in the 2014 season.

Valley’s best season prior to 2023 was the 2009 season, when the Rams won the area tournament and but lost in the regional round to Carver-Montgomery.