Talking with Smith HS girls basketball coach Michael Bolton about his team’s Mid-State 3-A Conference Championships

In discussion/conversation today with Ben L. Smith High School head girls basketball coach Michael Bolton, and talked about this season, how he got to Smith, and what his plans might be for the future….

Smith Golden Eagles girls basketball team, (25-2/14-0) and Mid-State 3-A Regular Season and Conference Tournament Champions….

Questions for Smith girls coach Michael Bolton….

1)Coach congrats on the Mid-State 3-A regular season and conference tournament titles, and what was your team able to do that allowed you to win/gain these titles???
Coach Bolton:We were able to stay focused, and run the offense…Able to regroup, and we took each team’s best shot…Azahreya Drayton-Gill, Zoe Davis, Morgan Smith, and Azaria Scott, those were our four core players this season

2)What about your seed for the NCHSAA 3-A State Tournament, pleased or expected better???
(Began at #9, then moved up to #6 in the West, based on RPI)
Coach Bolton:Felt like we should have been higher, but right now, we are pleased to be in the tournament

3)Strength of Schedule in your conference, was the conference top-heavy with you Rockingham County, WS Atkins at the top, and weak at the bottom???
Coach Bolton:Not weak, but young at the bottom…Bottom teams had a lot of young and inexperienced players playing for them, much more experience at the top of the conference…

4)How did you end up at Ben L. Smith High School???
Coach Bolton:I am a graduate of Ben L. Smith High School, so it was like a Dream come True, I was coming back home…Attended Smith High School from 1991-1995…Played basketball for Coach Reggie Peace at Smith High School…Coach Peace is my mentor, and he has been helping me, all along the way….I speak/talk to him on a regular basis….When I got the chance to come back home, this is where I wanted to be/coach…

5)Where were you coaching at prior to coming over to Smith High School to coach girls basketball???
Coach Bolton:Triad Math and Science Academy…I was there for five years…I was a substitute teacher at TMSA, and now I am a substitute teacher at Smith…It was a building process, getting the program going at the Triad Math and Science Academy

6)What made you want to take the job at Smith???
Coach Bolton:The Smith boys were always doing good on the basketball floor/court, but the Smith girls were not good at all…I wanted to change that, and see the Smith girls have a respectable basketball program…Being a Smith grad, I wanted to see my school do good, and I had experience coaching girls basketball, so it made for a good fit…In school ball, I had always coached girls basketball

7)Are you looking to get more girls/females involved in basketball at Smith???
Coach Bolton:More interest is being seen now, talent has always been at Ben L. Smith, and now we have to get that talent involved…Need much focus on our academics, and have to get the younger players interested…We had no JV team this past season, but we will next year

8)How does the Smith-area middle school talent look for the future???
Coach Bolton:We draw from Allen and Jackson Middle Schools and both have some talent, and especially Allen…Allen with 7th-graders Alicia and LaMiya Deberry….

9)How do you address the question that you brought in all new talent from outside of Smith High School to build your program???
Coach Bolton:The girls were already living in the Smith district, but they didn’t want to go to/attend Smith High School…I did not recruit these players, they were already living in the Smith district…These were girls that were supposed to be at Smith, but they chose to attend the Triad Math and Science Academy…The Smith girls team was not doing good at all, and these girls did not want to play for Smith…Eight(8) of the fourteen(14) girls on this year’s team, were already at Smith…I made the decision that I was going to Smith to coach girls basketball, and that I was leaving the Triad Math and Science Academy, and the players came along…But these girls that came with me to Smith, were already living in the Smith district, and I did not recruit them…The Triad Math and Science Academy had talent that remained, and they were playing for their conference tournament championship last night…The girls that came to Smith, wanted to come to Smith, and they wanted to play basketball for Smith….They are Smith High School students…

10)What are your long-term future plans, to stay and continue the Smith program, or maybe move on to the college coaching ranks one day???
Coach Bolton:Love to stay at Smith, but if college coaching calls, I may have to make a very big decision…It has to all be a part of God’s Plan….

Bonus Question:What is the key to building a successful girls high school basketball program???
Coach Bolton:Make the kids believe in themselves is Number One, and secondly, then they will follow anywhere….
(My philosophy is D-FREE…Get these kids a college scholarship, on athletics or academics…Show them and help them earn a Free Ride to college)
Coach Bolton said he coached AAU basketball for a couple of years, but he stopped coaching AAU ball, back in 2020…His first coaching job was at the Brown Recreation Center, here in Greensboro…..

No comments on this article….Lots of kids involved here, and we need to look out for them.