JEFFERSON — If there is a Mr. Jefferson basketball, it has to be Bolling DuBose.
The longtime Dragons boys coach prowled the sidelines at the old Jefferson gym and then the cathedral-like Arena for 41 seasons. He guided them to 20 playoff appearances and compiled a whopping 661-481 record with 12 region championships, four quarterfinals showings, and a pair of semifinals appearances in that time.
However, a state championship game appearance, despite some outstanding teams, eluded him. He stepped down as head of the program at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and gave way to current head coach Kevin Morris
AccessWDUN caught up with Coach DuBose for a quick Q&A session on the eve of the program’s first-ever state championship game as they take on No. 1-ranked Pace Academy Thursday at 8 p.m. at The Macon Centreplex for the Class 3A title.
QUESTION: Coach, as a longtime Dragon, what was your initial reaction when they won their semifinal game last week to advance to the finals for the first time?
ANSWER: I was tremendously excited for Coach Morris and the players. This year’s seniors were freshmen my last year at Jefferson so I was especially happy for them. It is so hard to get to the finals that I thought it was a great accomplishment for the whole team.
QUESTION: We all know how hard it is to reach a final even once. You had some very talented teams over the years that just could not get over that final hump. Is there one team, in particular, you had that you felt had championship-caliber talent?
ANSWER: There were several teams we had that was good enough to get to the finals but were knocked out by the eventual state champions or by bad luck. I may be getting the years a little off but my first final four teams in 1982  was a great team that beat the defending state champion, Central-Talbotton in the first round. However, we lost in the semifinals to Arnold from Savannah. Arnold ended up winning it all. The 1992 team that had (current Dawson County Athletic Director) Jason Gibson and Matt Pugh scored over 100 points 14 times during the season. Jason averaged 33 points per game but sprained his ankle severely early in our first state tournament game and we got beat in an upset. I only saw one team that I thought could have beat us if Jason had not gotten hurt. Between 2000 and 2014 we won 10 region championships in 14 years. There were several of those teams that were eliminated by teams that had future NBA players and those teams ended up winning state titles. Dwight Hoard and Javaris Crittendon of Southwest Atlanta Christian were good examples. We also got knocked out by Whitfield Academy when they won several state titles. My second final four team in 2010 was a lot like this season in that we won the region title but nobody gave us a chance in the state. We upset two teams to get to the final four and then lost to a great Thomasville team in the semifinals. My last region championship team in 2014 got to the elite 8 and then got beat by GAC who won the state title. So we got close a number of times and I was really proud of all of those teams.
QUESTION: As you mentioned earlier, the current seniors were on your final team at Jefferson. Have you been surprised at their development or is this something you were expecting down the road for the program?
ANSWER: I told Coach Morris when he took over that this senior class had the chance to be really good. I have not been surprised with their development because I knew Kevin would do a good job. However, I don’t think you can expect a state finals team. You not only have to be good, but you also have to be playing really well at the end of the season. This team has obviously done that.
QUESTION: What do you see as the key matchups for Jefferson against Pace Academy?
ANSWER: I have seen a little film on Pace Academy and I know they are a great team. They have several Division I prospects and they look like they can really score when they need to. However, the thing that probably concerns me the most is their overall size. They have a number of players between 6-foot-4 and 6-6 who seem to be very physical players. How Jefferson handles the overall size disadvantage will be a key to the game. Also, Pace has played a very tough schedule, so you know that they are battle-tested. They have not been challenged very much in the tournament.
QUESTION: What will it be like for you personally to be in Macon and see the Jefferson jersey on the floor playing for a state title after all the years you spent chasing this moment?
ANSWER: I will be really excited for these players and for the school. It would be a great accomplishment to win the first state title with this group of players. They have certainly earned their shot at playing in this game. I told Coach Morris it is now a one-game playoff that either team can win and I will certainly be pulling for them.
Of course, he did not end it there:
“Go Dragons!” said Coach DuBose.