Page returns as Bearcats basketball coach

Published 4:00 pm Friday, June 15, 2018

Jeff Page, who coached the Bainbridge Bearcats basketball team from 1998-2006, was hired again by the Decatur County School System for the same job on Thursday.

Page and his family moved to Rabun County after leaving Bainbridge. There, Page helped turn the Wildcats basketball program around, coaching the team to multiple 20-plus win seasons.

“I am excited,” said Page. “There is some potential (at Bainbridge). I’m just ready to get down there. There’s a lot of stuff we still got to do.”

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In his eight seasons coaching the Bearcats, Page went 135-79, making him the fourth winningest coach in Bainbridge history behind Ricky McCullough (215), Larry Slaughter (206) and Charles Bess (200). He had a 66 percent winning rate in region game.

He coached the Bearcats to two region championships (2005, 2006) and was region runner-up in 2000, 2001 and 2003. He had five state playoff appearances, including Elite Eight appearances in 2003 and 2006 and three Sweet Sixteens.

After spending 12 years at Rabun County, Page said it was time for a change.

“It was just time for a change for me,” said Page. “My wife had been ready for a change. Sometimes you need a different challenge.”

Page was in Bainbridge last week to meet the members of the team participating in summer workouts. Kelvin Cochran, who was his assistant when he coached at Bainbridge and now coaches the Lady Cats team, will return as his assistant. Having Cochran coach with him was a must, said Page.

BHS Principal Roy Matthews is also excited to have Page rejoin with Bainbridge. Matthews and Page coached football together years ago.

“When he was interested in it, I just knew he would do a phenomenal job,” said Matthews. “We haven’t won too many games the past few years, and we have to get back in the win column.”

Matthews added that Page commands respect and demands excellence from players.

“The boys will do well under him,” said Matthews.

The Bearcats varsity team has gone 20-37 the past two seasons, finishing third in Region 1-AAAAA both years.

Page said high school basketball has changed a lot since he left Bainbridge 12 years ago, but the familiar faces around the program haven’t changed.

“Do you think it is going to be like it was 12 years ago? No everything has changed,” said Page. “But a lot of the people there are still the same.”

Page’s wife, Julie, will be a kindergarten teacher at Jones-Wheat Elementary School.

Page added, “I just saw it as a different challenge. We had a great time when we were (in Bainbridge), and that’s what brought us back. God has opened the doors. To me, it’s meant to be.”