Chapel Hill High School coach Sherry Norris and Morganton Freedom’s Casey Rogers each won a state basketball championship this year that provided a symmetry for their careers.
Norris, who coached Chapel Hill to it first NCHSAA girls’ title in 1981, got a second in her last season before retiring as a teacher. Casey Rogers last month won a state championship as a coach at Freedom to go with one he earned as a player.
Now, Rogers and Norris are the 2013-14 Associated Press men's and women's prep basketball coaches of the year for North Carolina.
“This was a complete surprise,” Norris said. “I never expected it.”
Norris capped her 38-year coaching career on March 15 with Chapel Hill’s 69-56 victory over previously undefeated Hickory for the N.C. High School Athletics Association 3A state championship. Chapel Hill finished the year 32-0, setting a school record for wins and becoming the NCHSAA’s 21st women’s team to complete a perfect season.
"A coach's dream is to have an undefeated team, and to be able to be undefeated and win the state championship," Norris told the AP. "These girls did that this year, and the players just showed a great deal of poise and determination and would not let anyone take that undefeated season from them. Very rarely do you have that."
Norris revealed Wednesday that she will retire from the Chapel Hill public schools effective April 30.
She was the runaway winner for the women’s coach-of-the-year honor with 13 votes.
Williamston Riverside's Kirby Maness and McDowell County's Jennifer Brooks each earned three votes to tie for second
Previously Norris has been honored with the N.C. High School Athletics Association’s Toby Webb Coaching Award and last year was named as one of the NCHSAA’s centennial “100 To Remember” in coaching.
The AP award seemed like the icing on the cake for her retirement party.
“That’s the big one, isn’t it?” Norris said.
Rogers received eight of 25 votes from sports writers across the state in results released Thursday, outdistancing East Carteret's Billy Anderson, Apex's David Neal and Kinston's Perry Tyndall. Anderson, Neal and Tyndall each earned four votes.
Anderson's team finished 31-1 with a one-point loss to Winston-Salem Prep in the 1-A final, while Neal led Apex to the 4-A title and Tyndall led Kinston to a third straight state title.
For Rogers, Freedom’s buzzer-beating victory over Wilson Hunt in the title game brought his career full circle. Sixteen years earlier, he was the point guard on the Freedom team that won a state title with his father — 500-game winner Terry Rogers — as coach.
"It does make it a lot more special because it's a place where you and your family and so many people have so much invested," the younger Rogers said.
Sports writers at AP member newspapers nominated coaches for the award, then voted for nominees. The AP prep basketball players of the year for North Carolina will be released Friday.
Aaron Beard of the Associated Press contributed to this report.