You cannot think about superiority in the state’s high school basketball tournaments without three coaches jumping to the forefront.
David Boyd, Doug Lipscomb and Angie Hembree ran roughshod through Georgia brackets for decades, then stepped into retirement (or semi-retirement), each with six state championships in hand.
Boyd’s titles were won with four programs: Campbell (1982), Tucker (1996), Berkmar (2000-01) and Milton (2010, 2012). Lipscomb won all of his at Wheeler (1994, 2002-03, 2005, 2009, 2015). Hembree won three at Collins Hill (2001-02, 2005) and three at Norcross (2010-11, 2013).
The thrill is gone. The memories remain.
“It’s a euphoric feeling,” Boyd said of winning a state title. “You get in the locker room, and there’s nobody else to play. You realize you’ve done all you can do.”
Said Hembree: “Watching the kids celebrate is more fun than anything because they go bananas, and you just sit back and watch. I loved that.”
Hembree stepped down from coaching for good after the 2016-17 season at Norcross after suffering a heart attack and life-threatening complications from seizures. Boyd last coached at East Jackson for two years, stepping down after the 2015-16 season.
Lipscomb, who last coached at Maynard Jackson during the 2018-19 season, was sensitive to the topic of whether he’d coach again.
“Don’t ask me that question,” he said.
Boyd is living his retired life on St. Simons Island with his wife, doing volunteer work, spending time on the golf course and just “really enjoying my time,” he said. But he hasn’t completely rid himself of the coaching bug. He’s a volunteer coach for the Brunswick Pirates boys basketball team, where Chris Turner is coach. Boyd knows Turner from Turner’s playing days at Central Gwinnett, where he graduated in 1992 as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
“It’s a different role for me,” Boyd said. “I was a head coach for 30 years and have very little experience as an assistant.”
When he looks back on his state titles, all of them are special. But some come to mind faster than others. He coached his younger brother, Cal Boyd, during Campbell’s 1982 championship season. Cal Boyd later coached at Greater Atlanta Christian and now Mt. Bethel, compiling more than 500 career victories. David and Cal Boyd have combined to win more than 1,100 games.
In winning the ’82 title, Campbell had to beat Cherokee five times — twice in regular-season play, in the subregion championship, the region championship and finally the state championship.
The final, which Campbell won 69-68, left an indelible mark on high school play across the country. Cherokee resorted to the strategy of calling timeout when it didn’t have any, which at the time resulted in a technical foul and just one free throw, plus the ball back. Following the season, the National Federation of High Schools changed its rule book to mandate a technical foul include two free throws and the ball back when a team calls a timeout it doesn’t have.
“It was pretty wild,” Boyd recalled.
Hembree had the honor of coaching Maya Moore, one of the best female basketball players of all time. Moore led the team to the first of her three state titles in 2005. Moore later won two NCAA championships at UConn and four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx, among a mountain of other accomplishments.
What separates Hembree from Boyd and Lipscomb is that she tried her hand in coaching at the collegiate level, serving as an assistant on Katie Meier’s staff at Miami from 2005-07. Meier asked her to join the staff from their relationship when Meier was coach at Charlotte, when she recruited a number of Hembree’s players at Collins Hill. But Hembree’s father became ill and she decided to return home after two seasons.
“I appreciated my time there,” Hembree said. “I wanted to give it a try to know what it’s like, and it’s a different world.”
Lipscomb declined to discuss his personal life, although his LinkedIn profile states he’s a consultant. He also co-hosted a short-lived podcast in 2018 before his brief coaching stint at Jackson. He did talk about his players from the Wheeler teams he coached from 1992-2017. Shareef Abdur-Rahim (class of ’95), Jermareo Davidson (’03), J.J. Hickson (’07), DeQuan Jones (’08) and Jaylen Brown (’15) all reached the NBA.
“All the kids who went on to play Division I, in the Euro leagues and in the NBA were all coachable and listened,” Lipscomb said. “We nurtured them as people and as athletes, and we put the most competitive schedule in front of them (including nationally ranked opponents outside of Georgia) so that they’d play the same guys they’d see again in college or the NBA.
“It was a pleasure coaching all of my teams, not just the championship teams. I still enjoy the game and enjoy seeing my former players play, whether that’s in college or the NBA.”
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