Pike Lib hires Lara Lea Jones as new girls basketball coach

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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Pike Liberal Arts School announced on Wednesday that assistant coach Lara Lea Jones has been promoted to head varsity girls basketball coach.

Jones currently also serves as head varsity volleyball coach and was an assistant coach on the boys basketball team last season during their 2021 AISA State Championship season. She’s also a biology and anatomy and physical education teacher at PLAS.

“I am extremely excited and honored to be the new women’s basketball coach at Pike Liberal Arts School,” Jones said in a statement. “I am excited to get to work with our Lady Patriots and get ready for the season.”

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Jones formerly served as head volleyball coach and assistant basketball coach at Lakeside School in Eufaula for seven years. Jones joined PLAS in 2020 as head volleyball coach and head junior varsity girls basketball coach. She moved into an assistant coaches role on the varsity basketball team in 2021. She’s an Opelika native and graduate of Auburn University.

“We’re going to play hard and with intensity,” Jones said. “We aren’t going to back down from anyone. We still have a lot of work to do for us to be prepared, but in the end it’s all part of the process to build a great program.”

Jones replaces former head coach Brandon Matthews, who departed PLAS earlier this year to take over as head boys basketball coach at Greenville High School. Jones played basketball and volleyball in high school at Lee-Scott Academy along with being a part of the track and field team and the cheerleading squad. She was the first volleyball coach in school history at Lakeside and helped launch the program there along with coaching both boys and girls basketball during her time there.

Jones inherits a young Lady Patriot team and she said that laying a foundation for the future is one of her goals for the program moving forward.

“I just want to build a good foundation,” she told The Messenger. “I want to build a good program, help our girls learn the basic fundamentals and grow and enjoy the sport.

“I always have said there is so much to learn on the volleyball court, football field, baseball field and basketball court. That’s where you learn some of life’s hardest lessons. I want them to learn and enjoy it and grow form it. I want the girls basketball program to grow. It has a lot of potential, we just have to help it blossom.”

PLAS Athletic Director Travis Baxley said he was excited for Jones taking over the girls basketball program.

“We are very excited to expand Coach Jones’ role in our athletic program,” Baxley said. “She is very demanding of our athletes, detail oriented and has a genuine concern for all of the student-athletes in our school.

“The recent additions to our coaching staff are taking us in a new and improved direction and we could not be more excited.”

PLAS Head of School Eric Burkett shared Baxley’s enthusiasm.

“I am very excited to have Coach Jones continue to work with our student-athletes,” Burkett said. “Coach Jones is a great leader and brings a competitive edge like no one else. I have no doubt that she will lead our women’s basketball team to success, both on and off the court.”