Anne Long and Debbie Wardlaw both are enjoying life away from basketball.
But the two long-time Midlands girls basketball coaching legends will be back on the court as part of the festivities for the second annual Crescent Construction MLK Bash at George Glymph Arena at Eau Claire High.
Long and Wardlaw (formerly Stroman) and former Terrells Bay coach Taft Watson will be honored in the girls portion of the event Saturday.
“It’s definitely an honor to be in coach Long and Watson’s company,” Wardlaw said. “I don’t think of myself as trailblazer, but I put in a lot of work into Lower Richland basketball and glad to be part of it.”
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Long and Wardlaw retired after last season and were among the top girls basketball coaches in state history.
Long had an 851-198 career record that included stops at Wilson, Boiling Springs, Union, Lower Richland, Dutch Fork and Spring Valley. She won eight state titles, including four at Spring Valley in eight seasons guiding the Vikings – including the Class 4A state championship last year.
Since retiring in April, Long is living in Daniel Island and enjoying playing golf and pickle ball. She also started teaching part-time at College of Charleston.
Wardlaw won 482 games and seven state titles, including four in a row from 2006-09 at Lower Richland – one of five girls basketball programs in the state to win four consecutive titles.
Wardlaw is now the athletics director at Lower Richland.
“It is really different, not overwhelming but very rewarding,” Wardlaw said. “Your focus is changed and you are mentoring coaches rather than athletes.”
Wardlaw said on most game days she is busy with her AD duties, but has sometimes watched the Diamond Hornets in action.
On Monday, the focus shifts to the boys and former Great Falls coach John Smith will be recognized along with former recreation coaches Mike Brown, Charles Eubanks, Robert Geter and former official Frankie Goodwin Jr.
Smith is the winningest coach in South Carolina boys high school history with 943 victories, 19 state title game appearances and eight state championships before retiring in June. Brown, Eubanks and Geter coached a majority of the talent which came through Columbia during the 1980s and 1990s.
“One thing that separates us from other events is we put South Carolina and Columbia kids at the forefront of the event,” tournament organizer Carey Rich said.
All teams on both days are from South Carolina.
On the boys side, seven of the 10 teams are ranked in the latest South Carolina Basketball Coaches polls, including Wilson (Class 4A) and Gray Collegiate (Class 2A), which are ranked No. 1 in their classifications. Lower Richland, Keenan, Lakewood, Ridge View and A.C. Flora also are ranked in their classifications. Cardinal Newman and Heathwood Hall are two of the top teams in SCISA 3A this season.
The marquee matchup of the event is Gray Collegiate and A.C. Flora. It will be the second time the schools have played this season. The War Eagles defeated the Falcons, 74-70, at the Chick-fil-A Classic on Dec. 22.
Crescent Construction MLK Bash
At Eau Claire
A.C. Flora vs. Spring Valley, 11 a.m.
Orangeburg-Wilkinson vs. Hammond, 12:30 p.m.
Dorman vs. Westwood, 2 p.m.
Wilson vs. Lower Richland, 3:30 p.m.
Ridge View vs. Dreher, 5 p.m.
Heathwood Hall vs. Richland Northeast, 11 a.m.
Cardinal Newman vs. Lower Richland, 12:30 p.m.
Wilson vs. Ridge View, 2 p.m.
Lakewood vs. Keenan, 3:30 p.m.
A.C. Flora vs. Gray Collegiate, 5 p.m.