One of the best qualities of Lovington girls head basketball coach Wade Scott is his mental toughness. Scott developed that toughness playing for Goddard coach Leon Sims. Scott is one of the 12 players that won Goddard’s only high school championship in 1988.
Scott shares a special brotherhood with Derek Evans, Steve Damron, Tim Fitzpatrick, Thomas McKnight, Chad Tipton, Lonny Herbert, Tony Ortiz, David Weathers, Kelly McDonald, Jason Bowles and Bert Foster.
One of coach Sims’ favorite memories of Scott is of Scott twisting his ankle very badly in the first half against Socorro in the state championship game. At halftime, Scott told the doctors to tape his ankle up because he was going out to play the second half. Goddard (24-6) would go on to win against Socorro, 82-76.
“Wade was a deadly shooting guard,” teammate Kelly McDonald said. “Scott could hit the three, and also drive and pull up for the short jumper.”
His Goddard team ran, pressed, trapped teams and denied the basketball out of a 1-1-3 defense. Scott also learned and used the 2-2-1, and was the starting guard on the team.
“I had 12 kids,” Sims said. “The way I played, if you were on the team you were going to play. We ran and pressed, so when our players got tired, we replaced them with another player. The whole time I coached, I played 12 kids.”
Scott has spent his coaching career in college basketball. His first coaching job was as an assistant coach at New Mexico Military Institute, working under Reggie Franklin. Scott was good enough to be named the head coach at Texas A&M Kingsville for five seasons. Kingsville’s signature win was when his No. 8 seeded team upset the No. 1 seed Eastern New Mexico University, 69-67, in the Lone Star Conference on March 2, 2017.
After five seasons as the head coach of the Javelinas, Scott was let go. For Scott, the last 25 years he had been a college coach. He wondered what life had in store for him. With his mom living in Albuquerque, he received a phone call from Lovington athletic director, Robert Arreola. There was a change with the Lovington basketball program. Former girls’ basketball coach Casey Pack was going to be taking over the boys program, and with that they offered the girls job to Scott.
It has taken Scott a season to get used to the subtle changes between high school coaching and college coaching. Scott has figured it out and has his Lady Wildcats ranked as the No. 14 team in District 4-4A. Currently, as of this article, Lovington is in second place in the district at 12-10 overall, 2-1 District 4-4A.
“I have tried to adjust to the game,” Scott said. “It’s just a different game than college is. The kids have been really good and receptive and I can’t ask any more than that. I keep looking up at the shot clock and wondering why we haven’t shot yet. Subtleties like that. This has been an educational thing on my end. Everything is a little bit different.”
Lovington beat Goddard at home on Feb. 7, 51-39. Scott considers his team fortunate to have won that game. He feels like his team caught some breaks and if Goddard hadn’t had to foul at the end the game, it might have been different.
“We were fortunate to walk out with a dub,” Scott said. “Coach Neighbors does a great job, he has a couple of kids that can shoot the ball. They’re long and they have some nice height. We were fortunate to hit some shots. It was a really closely contested game. The game went down to the wire.”
No matter how far Scott has gone in life he always comes back to the defining moment in his life. Winning the state title in 1988. He credits his teammates and coaches for who he is and what he has become in life.
“I had great parents,” Scott said. “Don’t get me wrong. But you need to have someone other than your parents believe in you. Coach Sims and coach Hayden Hill, having them has totally changed my life. Making the state tournament and winning it has given me the opportunities that I got in life.”
Scott feels like shining on the biggest stage of the high school state basketball tournament validated his and his teammates’ high school careers. It proved they could bounce back after not having a good junior season. It also showed what a team could do when they came together and didn’t care who received the credit. They just wanted to win. Scott played well enough to make first-team all-district and second-team all-state as a senior.
“We had people from a lot of different backgrounds,” Scott said. “We tried to redeem ourselves from the year before. Just watching the commitment level of all the people that played on that team and was associated with that team, it’s very humbling after you look back on it.”
For Scott, it’s good to be back in New Mexico. He’s comfortable driving roads he grew up knowing. For the next couple of weeks, Scott will be driving Lovington toward their first state tournament under his leadership, but tonight he will try to defeat a hungry Goddard team that stands in his way.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.