Pike Road moves on without McGaughey

Robb McGaughey guided Pike Road's basketball team to three postseason appearances in the school's first three years with a varsity program, but school administrators apparently wanted to move in a different direction at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Pike Road has decided to move in a different direction with its boys’ basketball program, parting with the coach the school system hired to field its first varsity basketball program and hiring an east Alabama coach.

Both Robb McGaughey and Pike Road principal Greg Foster say McGaughey has resigned, although neither offered any explanation why.

“We thank Coach McGaughey for his time at Pike Road High School,” Foster said. “He submitted his resignation to seek other opportunities.”

McGaughey, hired from Catholic in 2018 as the Patriots were preparing for their first varsity basketball season, didn’t sound like a coach who had voluntarily resigned to pursue “other opportunities.” In fact, he said, he was still searching for another coaching opportunity.

“I just turned in my resignation,” McGaughey said. “I’m just looking, trying to find a good place for me and my family.”

McGaughey was hired in the spring of 2018 after his predecessor at both Catholic and Pike Road, Ken Klinger, started the junior varsity program at Pike Road before leaving for LaGrange (Ga.) Academy. McGaughey’s first team went 13-16 and reached the semifinals of the Southeast Regionals before losing to Slocomb.

In his second season, the Patriots again reached the Southeast Regionals but lost to Pike County in overtime, finishing 21-6.

Last year, Pike Road moved from Class 3A to 5A and won the regular-season Area 5 title, but were upset in the tournament finals to Tallassee 66-56. The Patriots (17-9) then went to a sub-regional game at Sylacauga and were upset 72-43, ending the season on a bizarre note as a video went viral of Patriot players charging into the stands to confront Sylacauga fans.

Despite the disappointing finish, McGaughey was pleased with the 2020-21 season, pointing out that COVID-19 protocols caused the school to cancel “six or seven” games that could have enhanced the Patriots’ record.

“This was a pandemic year on top of everything else, which was already stressful,” McGaughey said. “I felt like we overachieved. I lost two starters that would have been with me for three years and we still ended up finishing 17-9 with probably the toughest schedule we’ve had. We moved up to 5A and won the area. I thought we did well.”

McGaughey finished his Pike Road tenure with a 51-31 record (62.3 percent), three area tournament runner-up appearances, three postseason appearances and two regional appearances. Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for Pike Road administrators.

Foster said the criteria for a new basketball coach is one “that exudes a positive spirit, promotes teamwork, sportsmanship, and collaboration and establishes strong lines of communication. Our head varsity basketball coach will place emphasis on academics, accountability, and discipline.”

That person, he added in an e-mail response, “has already been chosen and board approved as of Monday, May 24, 2021.” Although he did not respond to a request for information on the new hire, the school’s social media announced several days later that Obadiah Threadgill IV has been hired as the Patriots’ new coach.

Threadgill, son of longtime Notasulga High and Hall of Fame coach Obadiah Threadgill, has spent the last 10 seasons at LaFayette High. Like McGaughey, he has had trouble beating area rivals in the area tournament (finishing as tournament runner-up seven times) but unlike his predecessor, he was able to guide LaFayette to three state tournament appearances, including the 2A state championship in 2015.

Threadgill’s resume includes two sub-regional appearances (2012, 2016), three regional semifinal appearances (2014, 2018, 2021), a pair of regional final appearances (2017, 2019), a 2020 loss in the state semifinals to Barbour County, a 2013 loss in the state finals to Tanner and the 2015 championship win over Elba to cap a 25-5 season.