Perry Central's Napier reflects on becoming Kentucky's winningest girls' coach

mfields@herald-leader.comDecember 12, 2013 

Perry County Central Coach Randy Napier became the state's winningest girls' basketball coach on Wednesday night with his 794th victory.

Perry County Central's Randy Napier said it's "pretty cool, and a little overwhelming" to know he's become the winningest girls' basketball coach in state history.

Napier earned his 794th career victory when Perry Central beat Jackson City 85-51 Wednesday night. He eclipsed Howard Beth's 793 wins. Beth retired as Marshall County coach in 2010.

Napier said he never thought about surpassing Beth until a few years ago when his longtime assistant, Kevin Whitman, told him he had a shot at the record.

"But you really don't think about stuff like that because you're just trying to win the next game, win the next region," Napier said.

Napier has been coaching for 32 years. He was at M.C. Napier from 1980-95, and guided the Lady Navajos to the 1994 state title. Led by Kristie Combs, they routed Highlands and Jaime Walz 88-56 in the finals.

When M.C. Napier and Dilce Combs consolidated into Perry Central in 1995, Napier took over the new girls' program. He's led the Lady Commodores to nine region titles.

Perry Central will hold a ceremony in February to mark the 20th anniversary of M.C. Napier's state title. Not that Randy Napier needs to be reminded of that championship.

"It's an unbelievable feeling that never goes away," he said. "It's still vivid and something special.

"And now breaking this record ranks right up there. It's an awesome feeling, too."

Napier's daughter, Randi-Carol, who played for him last season, was on the bench Wednesday night as a volunteer assistant. She was also with her dad when M.C. Napier won the state title.

"She may have been the youngest kid to ever cut down a championship net," Napier said. "She was two months old when we won the state, and I took her up the ladder with me. That's her own claim to fame."

Napier, 58, hopes to keep coaching for at least a few more years. His son Seth is a sophomore at Perry Central and plays football, basketball and baseball. "I like being here with him," Napier said.

And he likes being with his girls' basketball team. "I still like going to the gym. It's the best time of day for me."

Perry Central plays host to Hazard on Friday, the first time in four years the cross-town rivals have met in the regular season.

"Things got a little heated there for a while, with some controversies with kids transferring back and forth," Napier said. "But after a cooling off period, we decided to grow up and play each other again. It's a good thing. Maybe it'll bring the community a little closer together."

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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