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Port Allen coach Derrick Jones coaches against North Central on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, at Port Allen High School in Port Allen, La.

Being hired for a “dream job” does not happen for every coach. For Derrick Jones, there is an added bonus — he does not have to go far to live his.

The 43-year-old Jones is the new basketball coach at Catholic High, his alma mater. Jones led Class 2A Port Allen to the past two LHSAA Class 2A titles and a 88-44 record in four seasons.

Catholic announced Jones’ hiring in a Wednesday morning release.

“I get to go home again … and I don’t even have to move,” Jones said of being hired at the Class 5A school. “That rarely ever happens. This was not an easy decision because Port Allen and West Baton Rouge Parish have been so good to me.

“When (Catholic principal Lisa Harvey) offered me the job, my eyes did start to water up. There were only two or three jobs in this state I would consider. Believe it or not, this was always a dream job for me, even during the years I coached on the college level.”

Jones, a star player for the Bears in the 1990s, went on to play at Mississippi State and Samford. He replaces Mark Cascio, who resigned earlier this month to become an assistant women’s basketball coach at Appalachian State.

Before being hired at Port Allen in the summer of 2017, Jones spent 12 years as a college basketball assistant coach with stints at Samford, UNO, Louisiana Tech, Vanderbilt and Stephen F. Austin. His first Port Allen team advanced to the regional playoff round.

In 2019, the Pelicans were the 2A runners-up to Rayville. Port Allen then won back-to-back 2A titles in 2020 and 2021, beating Rayville in both final games. Jones said the success and bonds he built at Port Allen will remain a blessing.

“At Port Allen, we had unbelievable players. They may not be future NBA guys, but they were great kids who worked extremely hard,” he said. “It was an honor for me to be their coach and to coach at Port Allen High.

“Our superintendent, Mr. Wes Watts, and from my principal, James Jackson, and athletic director, John Williams, have all been so good to me. They helped me grow as a coach.”

Jones said he is impressed by the plans Catholic has for the future of the basketball program/school he graduated from.

“It’s been 25 years since I walked those halls and I am excited about the fact that my son, Nico, will now get to walk those same halls,” Jones said. “I remember my mother (Camelia Lynette Chustz) telling me when I was 10 years old that I was going to attend Catholic High one day, and I did. I am not sure she imagined something like this. But I think she would be proud.”

Parkway hires Gabehart

Sham Gabehart, an assistant coach at Zachary this spring, has been hired as the baseball coach at Bossier City’s Parkway High.

Before this season, Gabehart spend five years as head coach at Dunham. The Tigers were among the Division III favorites in 2020 before the pandemic shut down the season.

Gabehart also spent six years as an assistant at Parkview Baptist and was the coach at South Terrebonne for three seasons.


Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com