Tullahoma girls basketball fans will see a familiar face on the sideline when the season tips off in November, as Tullahoma High School officially hired Cody McMurtry to be the new Lady Wildcats basketball coach on Friday.
McMurtry, a 1996 THS alumnus, takes over for Dale Alsup, who returned to the sidelines to helm Tullahoma for the 2017-18 season.
Alsup was a late addition to the bench last season, taking the job in September following the resignation of former THS coach Kyle Shipley. Alsup had also previously coached the Lady Wildcats for two seasons starting in 2011 before he resigned in 2013.
After spending the last six seasons at helm of the West Middle School girls basketball, McMurtry comes into THS with plenty of coaching experience. He will maintain his physical education teaching post at West while serving as the Lady Wildcats’ head coach.
“It’s exciting [to be named the new THS coach],” said McMurtry. “There is a lot of work to be done and I’m ready to hit the ground running and get things going with the girls.”
Heading into the coming season, McMurtry inherits a team that posted a 15-17 record last season, including going 6-9 against District 8-AAA competition. The Lady Wildcats finished in fourth place at the district tournament, and advanced to their first Region 4-AAA Tournament since 2014. Tullahoma saw its season end there though, with a first-round loss at Riverdale.
The Lady Wildcats had two senior players this past year, with several key players expected to return next season. Included in those players returning will be Julia Duncan, who surpassed the 1,000-point threshold as a sophomore this past year. Duncan was also voted as the District 8-AAA Most Valuable Player.
As a freshman last season, Macey Bowman was also selected to the all-district team. Bowman, along with several other key members for THS, were previously coached by McMurtry at the middle-school level. Having that familiarity with those players was a key reason why McMurtry wanted the THS position.
“Knowing what these girls can do, and the type of girls that they are and the parents that they have, understanding the culture, for a lot of them, is already in place,” said McMurtry. “We can move on and get some stuff that is going to be more basketball-related. There’s still some program building, but the groundwork is already there.”
While he spent last season as coach at West, McMurtry made an effort to attend as many Tullahoma basketball games as possible last year. He said spending that time in the stands gave him an understanding of what his returning players bring to the table.
“They are very athletic and very young,” said the new THS coach. “At times, they could get after it and at times they showed their youth. As a unit, they are very strong together. There were some very strong individual performances. If we can gel both of those things together, I think we are going to have a successful program.”
On Friday, McMurtry was introduced to the returning Tullahoma players as the new head coach by THS Athletic Director John Olive. According to McMurtry, that meeting went well and he took advantage of the opportunity to deliver a message to his players.
“I told them that they are the foundation of what we are trying to build for the next 10 to 20 years,” he said. “They will be the standard that the other teams will follow. Once those players leave, I want those returning to say, ‘That’s where we need to meet and be above.’”
While McMurtry will take over the Lady Wildcats, he said he wants to assist in the hiring of a new West girls coach. According to McMurtry, his plan is to have input at all levels of Tullahoma basketball.
“Right now, Coach Olive and Dr. Mick Shuran [West Middle School principal] and I have talked, my vision is to have my fingerprints over everything associated with girls basketball in Tullahoma,” he said. “That means, East, West, elementary, high school, travel ball or whatever it is, I want to have some input. I want to help with those programs and find people who are going to meet what we are trying to accomplish here.”
Zach Birdsong can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.