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Shirley steps down at Meridian High

By By Steve Swogetinsky / special to The Star
Feb. 27, 2004
Meridian High School head girls basketball coach Donald Shirley has stepped down after 14 seasons directing the Lady Wildcats.
Shirley finished with 496 career victories and led both MHS and Southeast Lauderdale to appearances in the MHSAA State Basketball Tournament in Jackson.
Meridian High School athletic director Vince McLemore praised Shirley's work and said a search for a new coach would begin soon.
Shirley's Lady Wildcats won the South State Championship four times and the North State Championship once. During that run, the Lady Wildcats played for the Class 5A state championship three times. This season MHS finished at 18-11.
Born and raised in Lauderdale County, Shirley, 56, is a graduate of Southeast Lauderdale High School and East Mississippi Junior College. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, and earned a Masters Degree from the University of West Alabama.
He began his career at Southeast Lauderdale where he taught and coached for 20 years, the last six as the high school girls basketball coach.
Shirley began his coaching career at SEL as an assistant football coach and junior high girls basketball coach, taking over the high school girls team in 1984. He made the move to Meridian High School in 1990.
Coaching basketball has provided Shirley with many memorable moments. One of his favorites came at Southeast Lauderdale during the 1989 season when his team knocked off the highly touted Port Gibson girls.
One year, his Lady Wildcats were 31-2 but lost to Harrison Central in the finals of the State Tournament.
Another high point he mentioned was getting to see many of his players sign college scholarships to either two-year schools or four-year schools.
Shirley said he plans to focus more of his time on hunting and fishing, his favorite hobbies.
Shirley and his wife, Sandra, have three grown children, Ray, Billy and Amy, and seven grandchildren, Molly, Masey, Trevoro, Blake, McKenzie, Katie and Brett.