PILOT MOUNTAIN — With prep basketball practices soon to begin, East Surry has lost its boys’ head coach.
Jason Anderson has been part of the Cardinals’ basketball program for 14 years, but has stepped down from coaching, citing personal reasons. The announcement was made in a press release sent out to the media by the Surry County school system on Wednesday morning.
The release stated that “East Surry High School would like to thank Mr. Jason Anderson, head men’s basketball coach, for fourteen years of service to the basketball program. Coach Anderson resigned the position on Tuesday; however, he will continue in his teaching position at East.”
“It is with both sorrow and joy that I am announcing my resignation from the men’s basketball coaching position at East Surry,” Anderson wrote in a statement that was included in the release. “It has been a fantastic 14 years being involved with the basketball program, 10 of those serving as the head coach.
“East Surry is a great community, and I have enjoyed coaching so many wonderful young men and building relationships with them beyond their high school years, along with seeing them develop into contributing members of the surrounding communities.
“I feel it is time to step down and focus on my own children who are five and nine years old. I can now be more involved in their lives as a father who can give them full and undivided attention.”
Anderson steps down with a record of 176-115 as the Cardinals’ head coach, including two seasons where East Surry won 20 or more games under his tutelage, and another where it was a state semifinalist.
The Cardinals enjoyed immediate success when Anderson, who formerly coached at West Forsyth and was a member of the staff when Chris Paul played for the Titans, took the reins prior to the 2006-07 season. East Surry posted a 20-8 record, advanced to the third round of the 1A state playoffs, and went 14-2 in conference play to finish second to Mount Airy by one game. The next year, East won the Northwest Conference tournament title and 18 games. The Cardinals dropped to .500 in each of the next two seasons, but then returned to their winning ways in 2010-11, when East started the season 16-1.
His best coaching job may have come in the 2012-13 season, when East Surry posted a 19-12 record and reached the 1A West Regional final despite finishing just 7-9 in conference play. The Cardinals barely made the field as the No. 14 seed in the West, but routed Elkin 72-50 on the road in the first round of the state playoffs, then won road games at North Wilkes and Hayesville to reach the regionals. In the fourth round, East upset top-seeded Hendersonville 73-65 at UNCG, but lost in the regional final to conference rival Winston-Salem Prep.
The Cardinals had their best record under Anderson the next season, going 23-7 before losing to Prep in the playoffs again, this time in the third round. East Surry’s success in these seasons was led by the efforts of point guard Scott Meredith, who won All-State honors both years and was the Northwest Conference Player of the Year in 2013-14 en route to becoming East Surry’s all-time leading scorer. Meredith, one of a number of Cardinals who went on to play college basketball during Anderson’s tenure, is now at NCAA Division I St. Francis (Pa.).
East had just one losing season under Anderson’s guidance, that coming last winter, when the Cardinals started two freshmen against what MaxPreps rated as the second-toughest schedule faced by any 1A team, and finished at 10-17.
In the press release, East Surry Principal Lorrie Sawyers commented, “I appreciate Coach Anderson’s dedication and all he has done for the men’s basketball program. I look forward to working with him as he continues to teach.”
It was announced Wednesday that David Johnson, Anderson’s long-time assistant coach, will be the interim men’s head basketball coach. Johnson has been at East Surry more than 20 years as a health and physical education teacher and also has worked with the softball, football and baseball programs.
“Mr. Johnson is a strong leader with great character who advocates for kids daily,” said Sawyers. “This will be a smooth transition for the team as they already know and respect him, and his years of coaching experience will guarantee high expectations for our program will continue.”