By Hunter Dawkins
The Gazebo Gazette
Both Long Beach and Pascagoula have new head basketball coaches in place.
Kevin Hunt has taken the reigns of the Long Beach Bearcats boys’ squad, while Lakeria Westfield is now in place to guide the Pascagoula Lady Panthers. Both moves were announced on Tuesday after meetings by the respective school boards.
Hunt hails from New Orleans and comes to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with a reputation for rebuilding teams in his past history of coaching in Louisiana and Arkansas.
Hunt leaves behind East Jefferson High School in the NOLA area where he coached for the last two years. Prior to that, Hunt led the Lake Charles College Prep Trailblazers for two years and was at West Jefferson between 2016-19 seasons.
The coach was part of an administration at Sophie B. Wright Charter School as the Dean of Students/Athletic Director for nearly five years. He also successfully coached in Arkansas where he appeared in back-to-back state title games.
“My ultimate goal would be to win a state title. But more importantly, to build a consistent, strong, self-sustaining program which would run from elementary students through high school,” Hunt said.
Hunt is a graduate of Henderson State University. Throughout his more than 18-year coaching career, Hunt has earned numerous honors and taken his teams to state playoffs and championships.
Hunt replaces Wayne Ulrich, who served as interim head coach at LBHS last season. Nick Cln wa the Bearcats’ head coach for the previous two seasons before Ulrich’s lone campaign.
Long Beach won its last District 7-5A Championship in the 2018-19 year, finishing 26-7 and advancing to the MHSAA 5A Quarterfinals under Coach Brandon Cobb. Since then, the Bearcats have not had a winning season but did qualify for the Class 5A state playoffs for the previous five seasons that streak ended under Alrich this past season.
Meanwhile, Westerfield replaces Chrisla Herchenhan in Pascagoula. Herchenhahn spent the past seven seasons in charge for the Lady Panthers with varying degrees of success.
Her replacement, Westerfield, was already on staff at PHS but just on the other side of the bench. Westerfield has recently served as an assistant coach on the Pascagoula boys’ staff, according to information released by Pascagoula High School.
The Gautier resident has also been an assistant volleyball coach at PHS, and she has been at PHS since 2018.
Westerfield came to ‘Goula from Quitman High, where she served as the head girls’ hoops coach for another band of Lady Panthers. Prior to that she was head coach of the girls’ program at Jackson Forest Hill for a couple of seasons as well. She has over two decades of experience in prep basketball circles across the state of Mississippi.
Westerfield was recently named the Teacher of the Year at Pascagoula High for the current school year.
The Lady Panthers finished with a losing record overall last year but did qualify for the Class 6A state playoffs as the third seed out of Region 7-6A before falling on the road in the first half of the state playoffs.
Pascagoula made the state playoffs in six of her seven seasons at the helm of the Lady Panthers.
(228Sports Sports Director Curtis Rockwell contributed to this report)