Legendary Chargerettes coach reaches rare milestone

Staff file photo by Patrick MacCoon / McMinn Central girls' basketball head coach Johnny Morgan notched his 1,000th career win on the road against Sweetwater on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

After 44 seasons as the McMinn Central High School girls' basketball coach there are many memories to treasure for Johnny Morgan.

Pictures from most all of his Chargerrette teams hang on the walls of Morgan's office, along with two special keepsakes. One is a newspaper article encapsulating the Engelwood program's first state championship in 2011 and the other is a portrait of Morgan drawn and gifted to him by his daughter Katie, who played on the 2004 state runner-up team as a sophomore and coached in the 2015 title game with her dad in her second year as an assistant.

"There are just so many memories I am thankful for," Coach Morgan said. "Over the years I have been so blessed with the support from all the parents of our players. I truly have been fortunate to have so many really good players over the years. They just love basketball here and pour their hearts into the game, their teammates and the community."

Morgan took over the girls' program as a 24-year-old, and that first season was his toughest as the Chargerettes did not win a game.

But wins have come in bunches over the next 43 seasons for Morgan who notched his 1,000th career victory with Tuesday night's 70-32 road win over Sweetwater. Sophomore Molly Masingale led the way with 22 points, 14 rebounds and seven steals, while freshman Karina Bystry added 13 points.

Morgan becomes only the third girls' basketball coach in TSSAA history to win 1,000 games. He is also just the third Chattanooga-area coach - boys or girls - to reach 1,000 career wins, a milestone also achieved by Bradley Central girls' coach Jim Smiddy (1,217) and Brainerd boys' coach Robert High (1,001).

"It doesn't matter to me if it's win 1,000 or 999," said a humble Morgan, who has an overall record of 1,000-381 (.724 win percentage). "Instead of saying look at what a great coach I am or what I have done, this is a tribute to a lot of great players and support. This is an accomplishment for the players, families and so many others to be proud of. Not just me. It just means I have been coaching for a long time and been blessed with those surrounding me."

Johnny Morgan milestones

1,000-381 overall record32 straight winning seasons27 seasons with at least 20 wins11 30-win seasonsCombined 36 district and region championships14 state tournament appearances4 state runner-up finishes (1997, 2004, 2010, 2015)2011 Class AA state champions3 Miss Basketball award winners

Morgan's tenure has produced some eye-popping feats along with talented players.

The Chargerettes have had 11 30-win seasons and another 27 in which they have won at least 20 games. McMinn Central is also well on its way to a 33rd consecutive winning season as the program has only had three losing seasons under Morgan.

Banners fill the rafters inside the school's gym in which 36 total district and region championships are hung to go with 14 sectional championship banners. Morgan's record at the state tournament is 15-13. He has four silver ball trophies coming in 1997, 2004, 2010 and 2015 while McMinn Central took down Macon County, 48-37, for the Class AA state championship in 2011.

Jenna Adams starred in the state championship victory with 13 points and 13 rebounds to go with half a dozen blocks and Elizabeth Massengil earned tournament MVP as a sophomore after scoring 21 points. Massengil went on to win Miss Basketball awards as a junior and senior on her way to scoring well over 2,000 career points.

"I am so thrilled and proud for Coach Morgan," Massengil Fain said. "I don't know anyone more deserving to be recognized for all that he has accomplished. The impact that he has had on our school, community, and high school girls' basketball goes far beyond the number of wins that he has acquired.

"The emphasis he has on developing his players into genuinely good people with sound character is what I admire about him most. I still carry the lessons he taught me about having integrity, being a team player, and having a strong work ethic with me today in both my career and personal life. He is a legend."

Julie Aderhold, who later starred as a 3-point shooting ace at Clemson, also won a Miss Basketball award at McMinn Central in 2000. Jennifer Tuggle was a big part to the Chargerette's rise in the 80's and later played on Pat Summitt's first national championship team.

Morgan, who is one of eight siblings, acknowledges his love for basketball first began when he was a junior at Friendsville High School.

"Our family grew up poor and a lot of times my parents couldn't come out to games because they were working," Morgan said. "When I was a junior and my brother Charles was a senior in high school somebody at the aluminum company my dad worked at said your boys sure played good last night didn't they. He would say, 'I don't know I didn't see.'

"So at about Christmas time my parents decided to come and watch. They didn't miss a game after that whether it was high school or college or when I started coaching. That meant a lot to me because they really enjoyed it. They weren't just coming to support me. They really enjoyed watching the team play."

McMinn Central looks to be a strong contender in Class AA yet again as sophomore Molly Massingale is already nearing 1,000 career points while the Chargerettes have a large freshman class with budding talent.

The program has made it to 16 consecutive district championships and played in 14 of the last 16 region title games.

"I have loved coaching girls' basketball," Morgan said. "The other night I looked out on the floor and thought to myself how lucky I am. These girls hold themselves to a high standard in the classroom and on the court. I have been surrounded by so many good teams and people."

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.