Montgomery Academy didn’t have to look far to find a girls’ basketball coach.
Reg Mantooth has worked for years in the Montgomery area while serving as a community coach at Fort Dale Academy in Greenville. When he decided to step down from his coaching job this past spring to spend more time with his children’s activities – both are at Montgomery Academy – it was an easy choice for new MA athletic director Robert Johnson.
“I knew that he had kids at MA,” Johnson said, “so I contacted him and he said he wasn’t going to be at Fort Dale because he wanted to see his kids play ball. So I was like, ‘Wow, maybe we can make something happen.’
“He’s awesome. He’s one of the most respected coaches in the state. I’m pretty connected in basketball and very connected in girls’ basketball and after calling around, people said, ‘Reg is your guy to hire.’ I had 7A coaches telling me that, college coaches telling me that, so it was a no-brainer.”
Johnson announced Mantooth’s hiring on Monday afternoon, filling the position after Barry Fencher left the school a month ago to take a similar position at Pike Road High.
“I had resigned, I wasn’t going back to Fort Dale,” Mantooth said. “My kids are getting older and I was looking forward to a year or so away (from coaching). About a month ago, Barry leaves and I’ve known Robert Johnson for a long time and he called and it kind of went from there. I wasn’t sure when I left Fort Dale whether I had coached my last game forever, but with (the MA job) opening up, I had the relationship with Robert and my kids go there, too.”
Mantooth and his wife Beth have two children. Parker is entering the fifth grade and will play middle school sports at Montgomery Academy, while their daughter Maggie will be entering the second grade.
Mantooth was an accomplished player for Larry Chapman on the Auburn University Montgomery basketball team in the late 1980s, earning his finance degree at the school in 1991. He became the athletic director, boys’ basketball coach and girls’ basketball coach at Fort Dale Academy in 1994 and immediately took his boys’ team to the Alabama Independent School Association Class AAA state finals in his first season and won the girls’ AAA state championship in his third season.
H won another girls’ championship in 1999 and in 2004 he coached his girls’ and boys’ teams to AISA state championships in back-to-back games.
He took a job as the boys’ basketball coach at Oak Mountain High in 2008-09 and 2009-10, coaching the Class 6A team to a 42-15 record over two years.
He took a year off from basketball, then returned in 2011-12 as a community coach at Fort Dale, coaching the boys’ and girls’ teams over the past nine years. His last girls’ team, as usual, reached the state tournament. In all, he coached four boys’ teams to the state finals, winning AAA championships in 2003 and 2004, and six girls’ teams to the championship game, winning AAA championships in 1996, 1999 and 2004.
He has compiled a 771-380 record in 25 years of coaching.
“I’ve seen his teams play many times,” Johnson said. “They’re always so well prepared and well coached and they play hard and play great defense. People can tell when they see a great product out there what they’re looking at and, man, I’ve always been impressed with his coaching.”
Mantooth will inherit a team that had just one senior starter (Millie Stevenson) and returns six players with extensive varsity experience. The Eagles lost in the Southeast Regional finals last year after reaching the state tournament in five of the previous six seasons.
“I know their reputation,” Mantooth said. “Barry has been successful the last few years. I didn’t see them play last year but I saw them the year before when they went to the state tournament. I know a lot of those girls are back and, to be honest, that’s part of the attraction. I don’t know exactly what Barry did or what their strengths are, but I know they’ve got good talent there.”