Longtime Tattnall County Men’s Head Basketball Coach Doug Hassol recently announced that he was retiring at the end of the season after 32 years as a head basketball coach and 35 years in coaching overall.
During his tenure, he had a 469-389 won/loss record. He has won four Region Championships and seven Region Runner-up titles, and his teams have advanced to the State Tournament 15 times, with the last seven being consecutively. Other milestones include two Elite 8 and seven Sweet Sixteen appearances in the State Tournament. This year’s team (7-5) has already qualified for the State Tournament and will compete for the Region title at home next week.
The Journal Sentinel (TJS) spoke with Coach Hassol before his last regular season game against Long County.
TJS: “As you look back over the years, what were some of your favorite teams?”
Hassol: “My favorite team was awhile back when a bunch of the kids quit, and my favorite team was that team. The guys who stuck it out… we weren’t very good. But, those guys listened. They wanted to be here, and they all worked very hard. And by the end of the season, we had to be dealt with. We didn’t go to State or anything. But that bunch kept their nose to the grindstone, and I’ve always had a special place for them. And this group that we have this year is kind of a special bunch. We are kinda on a roll, and we haven’t been on one in a good while. But every year, there’s bits and pieces that are special. Something comes up and makes you remember those things. It’s special that I’ve been entrusted to coach these kids at Tattnall County all these years; it is a very special thing to me,” Hassol said.
TJS: “Coach Hassol, you are an integral part of Tattnall County. I call you Dean of Coaches at Tattnall, or, better yet, the Dean Smith of Tattnall County Basketball. What is your coaching philosophy? How do you like for your teams to play?”
Hassol: “I, like my team, have kind of a blue collar work ethic about it. Usually, we get that, the kids buy in, play super hard and super aggressive defensively and on offense, share the basketball, play unselfishly. And if we do those things, it works out for us more often than not.”
TJS: “I know a couple of year goals are to win Region and advance to the State Tournament. You’ve already mentioned that this year’s squad is doing very well. How do you like your chances this year?”
Hassol: “I like our chances. We talked to the team yesterday. If this team can stay focused and play like they can, somebody will have to play well to beat us. At the same time, this team is not super, super talented; they are above average, don’t get me wrong, but we are not going to just show up and beat people. We’ve got to do it right, but when we don’t do it right, we have to deal with it. Somebody else is going to have to do it right and have more talent. Now there’s a lot of good teams around here. We’re in the State Tournament at this point, and whoever we draw is going to be really good. We will match up with the Savannah Region, and they have six good teams over there. So, whoever we get, it’s going to be tough. But I like our chances, if we play like we can.”
TJS: “You coached a lot of talented players over the years. I put you on the spot. Who were some of the best players you coached?
Hassol: “Oh, my goodness, I’d leave somebody out here, I know. Well, maybe the most talented kid, if I go way back, was Antonio Gibson, maybe. He was as good an athlete as I have ever coached. Lashawn Cooper, who I was an assistant coach when he played, but that kid could do it. Others would be Aubrey Davis and Quayshawn Davis who now coaches with us. DaShaun Nails, LaDarius Kelley, Matthew Swain, Isaiah Phillips, and Cedric Butler are others, to name a few. I know I’m leaving somebody out.
TJS: “Well, I have to agree with you on those guys. They would all be on my Mt. Rushmore of great ballers in Tattnall County history.
“On behalf of The Journal Sentinel, it’s been a pleasure covering the Warriors during your tenure, and thank you for always getting the stats and information to us in a timely manner over the years. We wish you all the luck in the world and continued success in whatever you decide to do in your retirement. Good luck with this year’s team, and we will be watching. Congratulations on your retirement.”