Best Girls Basketball Coach 2014
USA TODAY High School Sports is less than a week from naming the top high school girls basketball coach in the country, as the contest moved into the final round Wednesday. Ten coaches - the eight regional winners and two wild cards - advanced to the national round, which began Wednesday and ends March 12.
The 10 finalists, with regional round votes listed:
Region 1: Mark Nickerson, Medfield (Mass.), 121,130
Region 1: Gina Maher, Irvington (N.Y.), 118,138, wild card
Region 2: Lamar Kaufmann, Lancaster (Pa.) Catholic, 42,199
Region 3: John Harder, Southeast (Bradenton, Fla.), 195,199
Region 3: Tim Miller, Hazel Green (Ala.), 126,500, wild card
Region 4: Lisa Patterson, West Holmes (Millersburg, Ohio), 61,572
Region 5: Jesse Nelson, Olpe (Kan.), 98,850
Region 6: Andy Jones, Middleton (Idaho), 22,362
Region 7: Dave Shackelford, Palmer (Colorado Springs), 66,875
Region 8: Amy Fogle, Kodiak (Alaska), 5,261
The regional field of 53 coaches had advanced from a state round that included five coaches per state, and Washington D.C.
Shackelford of Palmer High School in Colorado Springs collected the most votes nationally in the state round with 86,660. The two wildcards were Rich Slater, who was second in New York with 60,646 votes, and Jack Billing, second in Ohio with 62,501 votes.
The girls coach contest is the seventh installment in USA TODAY High School Sports' "Best Of" series, a competition that has drawn more than 100 million votes and attracted fans from all sections of the country – from big cities to tiny towns and everywhere in between – with 1,700 different schools being involved in one of the contests so far. No state has produced multiple winners, as past champions have hailed from Missouri, Vermont, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
USA TODAY High School Sports selected five active high school girls basketball coaches in each state and Washington, D.C. after more than a month of conversations with local media and other state/school officials with expertise. From there, the fans are deciding which girls basketball coach will emerge from a list of 255.
The "Best Of" contest series launched in November 2012 with the first best high school football rivalry competition, won by Brookfield vs. Marceline in Missouri. The teams celebrated their national title rivalry on in Brookfield.
In January, Hartford (Vt.) was crowned as the People's Champion high school football team. The monster of them all – the top high school mascot last spring – was won by the Centralia (Ill.) Orphans after 80 million total votes were cast during the competition.
Last fall, the best high school football coach competition crowned Philip Haywood of Belfry (Ky.) as its champion, while the second annual best high school football rivalry went to the North Carolina small-town matchup of Bunn vs. Louisburg. The most recent "Best Of" winner was Shane Cowherd of Edmond Memorial (Edmond, Okla.) taking the best boys basketball coach title.