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BOY'S COACH OF THE YEAR

Dan Maehlman, Jonesboro

Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman helped lead the Cardinals to a 29-6 record and the Class AAAA championship. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman helped lead the Cardinals to a 29-6 record and the Class AAAA championship. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

On Maehlman

Vitals: This will go down as the greatest season for the Cardinals’ basketball program. It was the program’s first state title, and only the second state championship for the school’s athletic program. The Cardinals finished with a 29-6 record and Region 4-AAAA title. In winning the state title, the team defeated powerhouse Columbia, which was making its fifth straight trip to the finals.

Why Maehlman: There was only one player with significant playing time returning for the Cardinals, who lost in last season’s region championship game and second round of the state playoffs. Maehlman had to mold and be patient with a team that was almost new and had very limited varsity experience. One of the best players on the team was a freshman and the other a transfer from the program’s top rival.

Others considered: Riverdale coach Tony Brinson; Lovejoy coach Rick Francis

What was the highlight for you this season?: “It was watching them in the state semifinals and region tournament and playing against Eagle’s Landing. I saw where the whole team was coming together and on the same page. When we started to accept our roles, we started playing some good basketball as a team.”

How did you see the team improve this season? “We were a totally different team from a year ago. We went from a bunch of individuals into a team. When we started playing as a team, we became stronger. When we hit adversity, we didn’t go our separate ways. They were able to handle a lot of difficult situations as a team.”

What was your biggest challenge? “The biggest was that we were a new and young team. We had to get everyone to buy into their roles on the team as it related to our system. We didn’t have much playoff experience with this group, but they played with unbelievable poise. They stayed together and they stayed focused when we had some adversity.”