PELHAM — An already fierce Region 1-A basketball rivalry might be about to get even more interesting. Coach Derrick Lavatte has been named the new head boys’ basketball coach at Pelham High School after coach John Hamilton resigned to take a position in the Clay County Superintendent’s office. Lavatte, who has taught in Pelham and coached basketball teams, football and baseball at Pelham, is a high school graduate of Calhoun County and was a high school teammate of Calhoun County head coach Marcus Shaw.
“I was on the team with Coach Shaw in the 1999 season when we (Calhoun) beat Pelham for the region championship,” said Lavatte. His loyalties have changed after 13 years in the Pelham City School system and will now be looking for a way to end the Calhoun County streak of three consecutive years with no region losses.
“Calhoun is always strong,” said Lavatte. “My goal is to just keep our train moving forward like we have been doing. I want us to be right threre where we were last year and be even stronger.”
Lavatte was an assistant to Hamilton last season when the Hornets finished 23-6 overall, were region runner-ups and ended their season with an appearance in the Elite Eight of Class A. Of those six losses, three were to eventual state champion and region rival Calhoun County.
Lavatte has spent 13 years in Pelham and was an assistant girls’ coach under Antonia Tookes who left last year to take a position at Lowndes County. He was named the Region 1-A Assistant Coach of the Year one of those years under Tookes. He moved out of basketball for several seasons and was brought back into basketball under Hamilton. Now he is making his own plans for the boys basketball team.
“We have some great talent coming back,” the coach said. “We have some great leaders like Darrell Starling, Jordan Bennett and Kendrick Patterson, plus we have some great role players that we expect to do great things.” He will have one big hole to fill as the Hornets look to replace leading scorer in Ke’Monterious Byrd, who is graduating. "I just want to keep the train moving," said Lavatte.
Lavatte said the Hornets have plans to do summer camps including one at Florida State University. But one thing Lavatte is really excited about is the upcoming eighth grade group who will join the high school in the fall. “It will take some time to develop them, but this eighth grade group is a dynamic group of players. I look forward to the future with them.”