By STEVE CORNELIUS, CJ Sports Editor
After nine seasons as the Southwestern High School girls basketball coach, Tim Rice announced his resignation on Friday afternoon.
Prior to his resignation from Southwestern, Rice was offered the girls head coaching job at Sheldon Clark High School.
“Coaching at Sheldon Clark is a chance for me to get back home,” Rice said. “I still own a house 30 miles away from the school. But more importantly, my daughter lives back there with my only grandchild and another one on the way.”
Without a doubt, Rice left his mark on the Lady Warriors basketball program. Prior to Rice coming to Southwestern, the Lady Warriors had very few winning seasons with their best season coming in 2001-02 with 14 wins.
After a losing season in his first season at Southwestern, Rice had eight seasons of winning basketball which included seven straight seasons with 19-plus wins.
Rice is currently the winningest basketball coach in the school’s history, with 166 wins. Rice edged out former Warrior boys basketball coach Dave Schulz, who amassed 165 wins. Rice had a 61 percent winning percentage in the 272 games coached at Southwestern.
“It is very tough to walk away from a program that we built from the bottom up, “ Rice stated. “We competed every year with some of the best teams in the state. We played in the Lexington Catholic Tournament (considered the biggest girls basketball tournament in the state) seven of my nine years. This year, we played 12 games against state-ranked teams.”
Rice led the Lady Warriors to four District 48 titles and one 12th Region runner-up title.
“My first season at Southwestern, we started three eighth-graders and three more middle schoolers coming off the bench,” Rice recalled. “Those group of girls won a lot of games for me in my first five years here.”
“We have had so many great young women to come through this program during my nine years at Southwestern,” Rice stated. “At some point or another, almost all of them have came back and told me that I made an impact on their lives. That makes me so proud to be a high school coach.”
Under Rice, the Lady Warriors have received statewide recognition on several occasions. After winning the Kentucky AAU state title, the Lady Warriors were ranked as high as ninth in the state during the 2008-09 season.
Perhaps Rice’s biggest win came in the second round of the 2007 12th Region Tournament, when the Lady Warriors knocked off Rockcastle County High School – who were state-ranked and two years away from winning the state title. But the Lady Warriors fell to Wayne County in overtime in the region finals – denying Rice his only shot at a regional crown.
During Rice’s tenure, the Lady Warriors were knocked out of the 12th Region Tournament first round on four occasions and the Lady Warriors advanced to the region semifinals on three occasions, with one championship game appearance.
“I have enjoyed my time here and I have made a lot of friends, but it is time to move on,” Rice said. “I am grateful to Boyd Randolph and Greg Scholl for hiring me and giving me the opportunity to coach here.”
“All the school principals – Danita Ellis, Pat Richardson and Boyd Randolph – I worked under have been exceptional and always supportive of the program,” Rice vaunted. “And both superintendents, Tim Eaton and Steve Butcher, have been supportive of the program.”