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J. Roland Ladner photo
J. Roland Ladner photo
J. Roland Ladner
Hometown: Hancock County, MS
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Championship basketball Coach Roland Ladner is one of the winningest high school basketball coaches in the nation having guided programs at Sellers, Harrison Central, Hancock North Central, Pearl River Community College, Phillips Junior College, and Pearl River Central. A native of Hancock County, Roland played basketball at Sellers High where he graduated in 1948. He played at Pearl River Community College from 1948 to 1950 and then earned his college degree from Southern Miss in 1957. Coach Ladner launched his 42-year coaching career at Sellers at age 20 in 1950 before he finished school coaching the boys and girls hoops teams. His first Sellers boys’ basketball team won 32 games and lost 12 and the next year his squad won 42 of 45 games. Roland joined the U. S. Army and spent two years in the infantry, however, his duty was to be in charge of the gym in Yokohama, Japan, and to serve as player/coach for the U. S. Army basketball team. He returned to Sellers in 1954 where he would lead his teams to 112 wins and only 20 losses in four years. Roland took over the Harrison Central basketball program in 1958 and his boys teams posted six straight 30-win seasons for 183 victories and only 49 losses. In 1964, he started coaching at Hancock North Central where he served his longest tenure at the same school. Coach Ladner led Hancock North Central from 1963 to 1981 rolling up 481 wins and 131 losses including the 1966 Class A State Championship. He left Hancock in 1981 and accepted a position at Phillips Junior College from 1981 to 1985. Coach Ladner guided the Pearl River Community College girls’ basketball team from 1985 to 1992. He led Phillips to a third-place national finish in the National Little College Athletic Association tournament in 1983 and a fifth-place finish in 1984. Coach Ladner retired in 1992 after leading the boys Blue Devils since 1988. On February 4, 1992, his Pearl River Central Blue Devils defeated St. Stanislaus 68-57 giving Coach Ladner the record as the state’s winningest high school coach with 867 wins passing MAC Hall of Fame member Bert Jenkins of Gulfport. Roland still ranks #3 in Mississippi with career wins for boys’ basketball behind Sam Richey of Baldwyn (904 wins, 2002) and Norris Ashley of Ingomar (1,023 wins, 2012). In his career, Coach Ladner’s teams won 70 invitational tournaments, 17 district crowns, six South State titles, and the 1966 Class A State Championship. His teams finished the as runner-up in 19 tournaments including a state runner-up finish in the Class A state title game in 1979. Coach Ladner received many coaching honors during his career including MAC Coach of the Year in 1973 and 1981, Region 5 Coach of the Year in 1981 by the National Federation of High Schools, and he was also one of 8 nominees for national coach of the year in 1981. He served as a head coach in the 1966 Mississippi High School All-Star game. In addition to the MAC Coaches Hall of Fame honors, Coach Ladner was inducted into the Pearl River Community College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. Roland passed away on July 1, 2018.