Jones has become a pretty big name with Decatur Heritage girls basketball.
Katie Jones capped an amazing run this spring by being named the Class 1A Player of the Year. Her next stop takes her to Samford.
Now there’s a new Jones family connected with Decatur Heritage girls basketball. Hartselle native Johnny Jones is the new head coach.
Jones replaces Paula Armstrong, who left the school after 10 years to teach at Westminster Christian in Huntsville.
“After Paula resigned, several people, including Paula, reached out to me about applying for the job,” Jones said. “She did an amazing job here, and it’s an honor to be able to follow her as head coach.”
According to Decatur Heritage Athletic Director Ty Patterson, the school received more than 70 applications for the job. The list included coaches from both the high school and college levels and as far away as Missouri. Patterson interviewed 50 applicants.
“It was a little overwhelming,” Patterson said. “There were so many good candidates that it took longer than we planned. That’s a good problem to have. It says a lot about what people think about our school.”
Patterson said Jones’ energy and enthusiasm were among several qualities that Decatur Heritage was seeking.
“He just lights up the room when he walks in,” Patterson said. “He has a passion for the game and for helping young people.”
The 2006 Hartselle graduate played football and basketball in high school. He played football at North Alabama before graduating in 2010.
Jones has been with the Decatur Police Department eight years. He’s been a school resource officer since 2016. The plan is for Jones to continue to work with Decatur police.
Since 2010, Jones has been coaching girls basketball. He and his wife Tiffahne have two daughters, Aliyuh, 12, and Jayden, 8. Their niece Genesia McGhee, 13, also plays basketball.
“I’ve always enjoyed coaching girls,” Jones said. “They try to do exactly what you tell them to do.”
Jones was the head coach at Decatur Middle in 2017. This past season he was the junior varsity head coach at Decatur High and an assistant for the varsity.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a basketball coach,” Jones said. “I’m big on my faith, and here I will be able to talk about my faith while coaching. That means a lot to me.”
Even though the Eagles are losing the state's top Class 1A player, there are still talented players on the roster.
Four starters return: Brantleigh Williams, Kennedy Kyle, Ellie Metzgar and Loryn Miller. Elizabeth Wilson and Sarah Grace Stubblefield, who are both 6-foot-1, give the team two more returning players.
In 2015 and 2016, Decatur Heritage made it to the state tournament in Birmingham. Eventual state champion Keith beat Decatur Heritage in the semifinals in 2015. Linden ended Decatur Heritage’s season in the 2016 semifinals.
After getting beat in the subregional round in 2017, Decatur Heritage had a three-year run of advancing to the regional. This past season ended with Decatur Heritage losing to defending 1A state champion Phillips, 50-46, in the Northwest Regional semifinals.
“Our goal is to continue to build on what Coach Armstrong has done here,” Jones said. “I’m excited to get started.”