High School Girls Basketball

With 500 wins, Spartans’ Spurlock in rare company

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 12/21/20

Growing up in north Louisiana, Angela Spurlock played basketball in her driveway, knocking down long jump shot after long jump shot, dreaming of becoming a coach.

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High School Girls Basketball

With 500 wins, Spartans’ Spurlock in rare company

Posted

Growing up in north Louisiana, Angela Spurlock played basketball in her driveway, knocking down long jump shot after long jump shot, dreaming of becoming a coach.

Spurlock was a natural at softball; she eventually finished her college years playing for Stephen F. Austin. But basketball had her heart. In the fourth grade and all through high school, Spurlock attended basketball camps at Louisiana Tech, which was then winning national championships under renown coach Leon Barmore. She watched players like Kim Mulkey and Teresa Weatherspoon star for the Lady Techsters.

Spurlock was a four-year varsity shooting guard for a Trinity Heights Christian Academy team that won two state championships and was a runner-up another year under legendary coach Merle Gore. It was there that her core beliefs about the game were refined.

“I’ve always believed that winning was a byproduct of doing the things that you really believe in,” Spurlock said. “I was fortunate to play in a system in high school that taught me a lot. I was able to be around some coaches like Leon Barmore. It was those formable years when I was very impressionable. The system of basketball then was ingrained in me.”

Spurlock eventually made a career out of basketball, a distinguished one at that. Now in her 24th season as a head coach, and 16th year at the helm of Seven Lakes’ girls basketball program, Spurlock is in an exclusive class of coaches in Katy ISD, becoming just the fourth to have 500 career wins after the Spartans beat Katy, 46-33, in their district opener Dec. 4 at Katy High.

Spurlock, who has been the head coach at C.E. King, Friendswood, Hightower and now Seven Lakes, joins Katy High baseball coach Tom McPherson, Cinco Ranch wrestling coach Bill Dushane and Katy High softball coach Kalum Haack in the 500 club.

“It’s been a career filled with something I absolutely and truly love and adore, so it never feels like work,” Spurlock said. “There’s good days and bad days, sure, but I work hard and our players work harder. It’s never been a job, and the benefit of loving something and being able to do it for a living, you accomplish things that maybe you think you’ll never do.”

Following the Spartans’ 67-16 win over Morton Ranch on Dec. 18, Spurlock has a career record of 504-298, a winning percentage of 62.8 percent. She has led teams to 19 playoff appearances, 12 district championships and two regional finals.

At Seven Lakes, Spurlock has a 315-181 record, a 63.5 win percentage. Her Spartans won seven straight district titles from 2011-2018.

“The main thing she has taught me is to always believe,” senior forward Lily Baumgardner said. “She has really showed me when you truly believe in something, you can accomplish anything, no matter how big the goal.”

Spurlock’s foundation is defense—predicated upon heart, effort and desire, all traits she demands as core values of her program—and respecting opponents and shooting. She embraces the notion that she is an “old-school coach.”

Her players dress alike on game days, arrive and leave together, and do things as a team. Unity is a part of the Spartans’ success and has only been enhanced through expectations.

“During my junior year, going through a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) surgery, Coach Spurlock included me in everything,” senior guard Addison Poth said. “Even though I couldn’t play, she made sure I was a part of the team as a leader for the younger players. She really helped me get through the toughest year of my career. It has made this season more special, since I was allowed to work my way back to also being a leader on the court.”

Spurlock emphasizes discipline and accountability, and having fun doing so. Junior guard KK Tucker said Spurlock taught her how to be responsible in her academics, athletics and home life. Tucker also remembers Spurlock spraying them with silly string before pregame shootarounds last season, which energized and excited the players just as they were about to hit the court.

Playing for Spurlock, junior guard Aliyah Atiqi said, is “an honor and a privilege.”

“My favorite memory is just being part of Coach Spurlock’s 500th career victory,” Atiqi said. “Seeing her being so humble, but I know deep down inside it meant a lot to her.”

Indeed, Spurlock was taken aback when she was presented with balloons and a banner sign honoring her 500th win after the Katy game. She didn’t think anyone knew. She certainly was not going to bring it up; Spurlock loathes discussing herself, always wanting to keep the topic of conversation on her team.

She did admit, though, that accomplishing the career milestone at a school she helped open up, for a program she started from scratch in 2005, was rewarding.

“It was a cool opportunity and a bucket-list thing to open a school,” Spurlock said. “I always wondered what it would be like to take the knowledge of what I had learned as a player and young coach and see if I could apply those pillars and cornerstones to a program that didn’t know anything. It’s a pretty humbling, emotional experience to know it was successful.”

Recently, Spurlock allowed herself a rare moment to reflect on her basketball life. From playing with a larger-sized basketball and no 3-point line in high school to her playing days at Panola Junior College to two regional final appearances at Friendswood and Seven Lakes.

Spurlock remembers some of the wins, but like any great coach, the losses are what stick with her.

“Those losses taught me how to win,” Spurlock said. “The loss column is probably just as important as the win column, if you really look at how true teaching and learning the game of basketball takes place.”

Spurlock is appreciative of every player, grateful for every assistant coach, and thankful for all four school districts she has worked for. She is encouraged about this year’s 8-1 team, excitedly noting, of course, its dominant defensive performances to start the season.

And she is thrilled for what is still to come.

“I’ve enjoyed the journey and I’ve enjoyed the process,” Spurlock said, “and, God willing, I hope it continues.”

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