Liggans returns from WNBAto coach at Port Gibson High

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2001

Harold Liggans, with state championship trophies he won at Port Gibson in 1991 and 1992, is also an assistant with the four-time WNBA champion Houston.(The Vicksburg Post/SEAN P. MURPHY)

[10/19/01]PORT GIBSON Harold Liggans has become accustomed to being part of championship teams and now he’s back in Mississippi trying to help Port Gibson High win back its past glory.

Liggans, who is an assistant during the summer for the four-time WNBA champion Houston Comets, will help with the Port Gibson girls team this season.

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“We only work with the Comets four or five months out of the year. Other than that, I’m just free,” said Liggans, who breaks down film and works with specialty areas for the Comets.

Liggans, who was at Port Gibson in varying capacities as coach for 27 years, retired four years ago, but is allowed to coach and teach on a part-time basis.

He will be assisting Tracy Cook in an effort to rejuvenate a program that has fallen on hard times.

Liggans said the teams are very young and need work.

“We’re trying to get the program back because it’s been down,” said Liggans, who started on Monday. “Don’t look for any miracles in one year. You can’t take a donkey and win the Kentucky Derby, but with a few thoroughbreds, we got a shot.”

Liggans won the Class 3A state championship in 1991 and the Class 4A state title in 1992. Those teams featured future WNBA star Yolanda Moore and others. Liggins also won an Amateur Athletic Union national championship.

“He’s got great experience and I’ve already learned a lot from him,” said Tracy Cook, a former Alcorn State football star who is coaching the Lady Blue Waves in his first season.

“From Day 1, the kids’ motivation was up knowing they had a coach who has won so many championships. I’m glad we got the opportunity to have him back.”

While then-Ole Miss coach Van Chancellor was recruiting Moore, he and Liggans became friends. After Chancellor’s first season in Houston, Liggans joined his staff.

He assisted on three of the Comets’ four world championships. Getting back to coaching young players will be different, he said.

“There’s no comparisons,” he said. “You’re dealing with players like (Sheryl) Swoopes, and (Cynthia) Cooper and Tina Thompson, here, you just have to get back down to this level.”

He and Cook plan to focus on junior high players, like he did in his first go-round at the school. He was made head coach in 1989 at Port Gibson after a lengthy stay as the school’s JV coach.

Two years later, the Lady Waves went 40-1 to win the state title.

“You have to have talent to win anything,” Liggans said. “We’re trying to develop that talent and teach them what the game is all about.”

The Lady Waves open the season on Oct. 29 in the Warren County Coca-Cola Classic against his old friend and coaching nemesis Donny Fuller and Warren Central.

Fuller is sure the Lady Waves will improve dramatically with Liggans’ presence.

“He’s one of the great basketball coaches in our state,” Fuller said. “I’ll tell you this I wouldn’t have played Port Gibson in the first round of the Coca-Cola tournament if I’d known he was coming back.”