By Mike Robertson

Kemper County Messenger

After three successful seasons as Kemper County High School girls head basketball coach ,Jennie Vance is leaving to become the head coach at Moss Point High School. Vance, a 1992 graduate of Philadelphia High School, began her coaching stint at Kemper County in 2014, with a 14-13 win/loss record in her first season.

Vance played college basketball at Ole Miss under Coach Van Chancellor; the Lady Rebels made it to the NCAA Tournament each year of her college career.

Her coaching career began at the University of Houston; from there she went to Texas A&M University and coached under Ole Miss great Peggy Gillom. Vance began her high school coaching career at North Panola in 2000. She then was associate head coach at Henderson State in Arkadelphia, Ark., from 2002-04, where she also earned her Master’s Degree. During that time, Henderson State made the Elite 8 in the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Vance stated that she took the Kemper County position, in part, to be near her mother who had cancer. Her mother is in remission at this time.

Concerning the challenges of coaching at Kemper County, Vance said, “The main challenge in basketball is that there just wasn’t a winning tradition with the girls. It was hard to build that. People say they want to win, but do they really want to put in the work to win? The longer I was there, the harder the kids worked.”

She stated that she had some good players. The girls who graduated in 2017 were sophomores during her first year. There were three players who formed the nucleus of her teams: Mercedez Jackson, Kiandrea Cherry and Nekeida Rencher.

Vance stated that Kemper County played in a very tough division, this past season finishing third behind Choctaw Central and Forest.

She said, “People who don’t really pay attention to that look at your record and think that your kids didn’t achieve. And to be in the district that we were in, I think my kids did a really good job.”

Vance said that the highlights of her time at KCHS include tying for the district in her first season and being the assistant coach of the boys’ teams when they won a State

Championship. But her greatest highlight was seeing her kids grow as players and as people.

Two players from this past season will play in college this upcoming season: Mercedez Jackson at EMCC and Kiandrea Cherry at Coahoma Community College. Vance said that she expects both players to play well in college.

Vance stated that she did not want to leave KCHS, but the school had decided to go in a different direction with girls basketball.

She will be stepping up slightly in classification as Moss Point High School is 4A, whereas Kemper County is 3A.

“I’m stepping into a great team," Vance said. "They were 18-10 last year. I have a Division I point guard who is going into the 10th grade. I have a lot of good players to work with, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”