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East Bladen’s Patty Evers Reaches 400-Victory Milestone

special to the NCHSAA courtesy Curt Vincent

 

ELIZABETHTOWN — There is probably no coach happier to see East Bladen girls basketball coach Patty Evers get her 400th win than the one the Lady Eagles beat on Thursday for the milestone.

Evers and the Lady Eagles polished off an undefeated regular season with a 57-20 win over cross-county rival West Bladen.

In calculating the schedule ahead, if everything went as expected, Evers’ 400th win would be coming on the road at West Bladen. But in a twist of fate— involving a number of bats in the West Bladen gymnasiums earlier in the week — the Lady Eagles’ game against the Lady Knights was moved across the county to East Bladen, allowing Evers to get the milestone at home.

And one of the first to congratulate Evers after the game was West Bladen coach Pam Stephens.

“I’m very proud of her,” Stephens said. “I told her after the game that, even though it was my team that lost, I was proud to be a part of the
milestone.”

But there were plenty of handshakes and hugs to come for Evers, who spent five seasons at Tar Heel High School before coming to East Bladen in 2001 when the merger took place. She went 73-42 at Tar Heel — including a 21-3 season in 1999-2000. Since then, Evers’ teams have gone 327-68 at East Bladen.

“This was a huge accomplishment for me this year, considering our record at the present time (24-0),” Evers said. “Our girls have played really well, even against some really good teams early on, and gave me the opportunity to reach it.

“I don’t focus on myself, but I am a believer that good and great players make any coach with a lot of discipline along the way,” she added. “I
require discipline and my players have given me that.”

Evers knew at an early age that sports and coaching were in her future.

“I wrote in a journal in the fourth grade that I wanted to be a PE teacher and a coach,” she said.

Alan West, who has sat next to Evers on the bench as an assistant coach since the 2001-02 season, has seen first-hand how the Lady Eagles’ coach goes about her business.

“She is a really good motivator and a winner in general,” he said. “Plus, she is very defensive-minded.”

That’s something Stephens can attest to, as well.

“She convinces her players to buy into the program, a big part of which is the defense,” she said. “She got a good work ethic, which rubs off on her players, and she a real go-getter.”

Evers claims that her coaching style was shaped by her years as an athlete, which includes a competitive side and a bonding side.

“I am very competitive in everything,” she said. “However, I grew up playing sports and coaching gives me the opportunity to pass on what I have learned. It’s the little moments that I enjoy the most: bus rides, team gatherings, team discussions, and the girls cutting up when it’s not time to be serious.”

But while Evers is confident that her coaching style is a part of the recipe for success, she also is the first to tell anyone that it’s the players who
have to go on the court and win games.

“I have coached many, many players over the last 19 years and most people know that winning comes from building around a nucleus,” Evers said. “I have had some great players who went on to college — like Kristal Troy, Dorothy Corbett, and the Kemps — but it took more than just a handful to accomplish winning seasons. Every player I have coached was important to me and I can probably still tell you the numbers they wore in high school.”

One such player is current junior Lacey Suggs, who has been a leader and sparkplug on this 24-0 team. Perhaps more than anyone on the roster, Suggs has spent plenty of time at Evers side and in her car riding to basketball events across the state.

     “We’re all real happy for her,” Suggs said after Evers’ 400th win. “We all knew about it and wanted to play a good game for her.” She pushes
us hard to be better and I’m proud of how the team played (against West Bladen) to get the win,” she added.

     For the past 10 years or so, the East Bladen bench during home games has Evers at one end and Scoop Campbell at the other. Campbell, an Indiana resident in the summer and North Carolina resident in the winter, is a 25-year veteran of basketball refereeing. More importantly, he is the grandfather of McKenzie Taylor, who played four years under the tutelage of Evers and went to the state’s Class 1-A championship game with the Lady Eagles.

     In a nutshell, Campbell knows basketball and he knows exactly what kind of coach Evers is.

     “She can really coach,” he said. “She is about the best defensive coach I know, boys or girls. It’s been a real pleasure watching her in action and see how her teams have developed into really good defensive teams over the years.”

     They say that, in sports, defense wins championships. As true as that may be, Evers is still searching for her first state championship. But defense has helped her teams get to four state championship games — finishing as the state runner-up in Class 1-A in 2007 and 2009, then runner-up in Class 2-A in 2010 and 2011.