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Coach Faron Key talks to his team during a timeout in a game against Athens back in December. Special to the Enquirer/James Meadows

Hartselle’s Key earns 6A Coach of the Year

Faron Key has seen it all during his six-year journey as head boys basketball coach at Hartselle High School. He’s has had teams that ranged from not so good to superb. One constant has been the same with all of his teams: their work ethic to do things the right way as a team.

This season, he led Hartselle to its best season since 2001, with the Tigers advancing to the Elite Eight and to 27 wins.

Key said he has always believed in building a team the right way. He has built a foundation for the Hartselle program that is based on hard work and unselfish play.

“I am so proud of the different players on the team all working for one mission,” Key said of his team’s season following their run to the Elite Eight. “I love these boys and their commitment to being their very best every single day.”

Throughout this season, Hartselle could see his heart for his team.

This year’s Tigers team was fairly young, with two senior starters and two junior starters. Key started one freshman but had two more freshmen and a sophomore who saw important minutes throughout the season.

Key took his team into battle against a difficult schedule that included 7A state champ Lee-Montgomery, 7A Final Four participant Oak Mountain and 6A finalist Bessemer City.

Fans could see how his leadership taught his team to play with a level of calmness and confidence. The big moments didn’t scare them but instead saw them thrive.

Key got mad when he needed to, especially with his young players, trying to prepare them for the future, and he applauded when he needed to. Most impressively, perhaps, he took advantage of every second of each game and every second of each practice.

Late in the year, Key won his 100th game as Hartselle head coach. The win came on senior night and against his alma mater, West Point.

“Winning my 100th game at Hartselle is humbling,” said Key. “It is nice to especially get this milestone win on senior night with these players.”

Although he had a lot of talent, it was a young group of talent that needed a lot of coaching. During a timeout or during the flow of the game, Key rarely sat down. He always seemed to have a feel for exactly what his team needed to do in each situation.

Leading his team was the combo of junior Brody Peebles, a 6A First Team member, and senior Tad Sivley. Also helping to lead his young team was senior Jackson Raley and junior Trent Wright. They helped set the stage for younger players like freshmen Kiah Key, Ryan Dunn and Coleman Mizell, along with sophomore Luke Ward and many more who will return next season.

“I don’t think he gets enough respect in the state when it comes to coaching,” said Peebles. “I respect him for so much more than basketball. He cares more about developing the character of a player first that he does about the X’s and O’s.”

“He takes the time to develop relationships with each one of his players and managers,” added Sivley. “That is why he is amazing at what he does.”

“The culture Coach Key has built is what makes us be successful,” said Wright.

“Coach Key impresses me as much off the court as he does on the court,” agreed Raley. “He takes his teaching just as seriously as he takes his coaching.”

“He continually shows confidence in me and my teammates,” added Ward. “It doesn’t matter if I have missed 10 in a row or made 10, he tells me to keep doing what I am doing and good things will happen.”

“He makes me and the other managers feel just as important as the players,” added Bryce Balch.

“Although I am his son, he doesn’t take it easy on me,” said Kiah Key. “He has pushed me to become a better player and, even more importantly, a better son and person.”

The coaching job this season by Key has shown the community of Hartselle what can be achieved through hard work. The Tigers’ future is bright thanks to Key and the talent he is working with every day.

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