Eight years ago, Brandon Carpenter walked away from coaching basketball after leading Cloudland’s boys to three straight sectional appearances and two state tournament berths.
This week he got back into coaching at a different school with a different group of players.
Carpenter was named new girls basketball coach at Hampton. He will continue as principal of Hamp- ton Elementary.
“I’ve kind of had the itch to get back into coaching, and this opportunity presented itself,” Carpenter said. “I know it’s a classy group of young ladies. Most of them went through the elementary school, so I know what character of kids they are. It’s a basketball community, so I felt it was a good fit and something I wanted to be a part of.”
Carpenter had a lot of success at Cloudland, leading the Highlanders to sectional berths from 2011-13. The first two of those teams made it to the state tournament, and the 2012 squad came excruciatingly close to getting a win in Murfreesboro.
Down by 15 points entering the fourth quarter, Cloudland rallied and took the lead with 29 seconds remaining before suffering a controversial 65-64 loss. A foul called 30 feet from the basket with two seconds left in the game sent McEwen to the free throw line for the game-winning charity toss.
Carpenter said he doesn’t expect any major transition in going from boys to girls even though he hasn’t coached girls before. Len Dugger is a recent example of how it can be done successfully as he guided Elizabethton’s girls to a state title in 2014 after a long career coaching boys.
“I have not talked to Coach Dugger myself,” said Carpenter. “But through the grapevine he congratulated me and said coaching kids is coaching kids. The main thing is to do the same things you would do with the boys and coach the same way.”
Carpenter said the Lady Bulldogs will press and play defense.
“We will go from end line to end line,” he said. “We will press the whole game and try to get what we can off our defense.”
One trouble spot for Carpenter is the Watauga Valley Conference, which should be very strong in 2021-22.
“It’s a stacked league,” Carpenter said. “It’s going to be tough.”