SCC adversity returns Beckwith to the bench

Friday, December 24, 2004

Delane Beckwith thought he was done with coaching basketball when he accepted a position as principal of Scott County Central High School before the 2003-04 school year.

But unusual circumstances have brought Beckwith back to the bench, temporarily leading a state-ranked team.

Scott County Central boys basketball coach Melvin Porter was placed on administrative leave on Dec. 9, leaving the school district in search of a coach. The school board asked Beckwith, who has 12 years of coaching experience at several Missouri schools, to take the position.

"Coach Porter did a good job with these kids," Beckwith said. "These are talented kids, athletic kids. I'm just trying to step in and do a good job until he comes back."

Beckwith was not at liberty to speak on Porter's status or a timetable on his return. Porter was placed on leave while he is the subject of an investigation from law enforcement officials in Scott County and the Missouri Division of Social Services.

"It's tough," Beckwith said. "The kids miss coach Porter, and two of his sons are on the team. They've never had anyone else coach them, and they're going through a lot. I feel for them.

"I'm just trying to use what he's done and what I've done in the past, but it's hard when you don't get to practice with the weather. We're ranked fifth in the state, and I'm just trying to keep it that way until he comes back."

Scott County Central, a Class 1 school which won a district title last year, is 6-1 overall and 2-0 under Beckwith.

The Braves next play Monday in the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament. A special section in today's edition lists Beckwith as the coach and publishes a preseason picture with Porter and the team.

The Braves didn't practice Wednesday because of the weather and will take time off for the holiday.

Beckwith is worried about his team's readiness for its opening game against Notre Dame in the 16-team tournament at the Show Me Center.

"Coach [Paul] Hale is an awesome coach. He's going to have his kids prepared," Beckwith said. "I feel like we didn't have time to prepare."

Beckwith didn't have much time to get used to the idea of getting back into coaching. He had coached at Tower Grove Baptist in St. Louis, Zalma, Festus St. Pius, East Prairie and Naylor and was the principal and coach at Clarkton before coming to Scott County Central.

"I wanted to get out of coaching and wanted the opportunity to be an administrator," Beckwith said. "I miss it a little bit. I really enjoy practice if the kids work hard, and I enjoy the relationships with the kids. I don't know if I miss coaching games, but I miss the things you go through to try to build character. As an administrator, you don't get to do that much."

Beckwith, who is being assisted by first-year teacher Travis Westbrook, is getting that opportunity now in a character-building time for the Braves.

"They're trying to play hard," Beckwith said, "and do the right things."

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