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Idaho Enterprise

Terry Jones’ 1992 MHS Team celebrated at State Tournament

Championship MHS Coach Terry Jones and his wife Marsha stopped by the Enterprise office to chat about last weekend’s awarding of the “Legends of the Game” title to the 1992 boys team.

Over the weekend, the 1992 state champion undefeated Malad Boys Basketball Team was given another prestigious title to add to its legacy, when it was honored as a “Legend of the Game” for 2024 by the Idaho High School Activities Association.  With his wife Marsha by his side as she has been over the course of his coaching career, Coach Terry Jones met with almost all the members of the team at the Idaho Center in Nampa for the presentation of a medallion and plaque commemorating
the achievement. 

Although Jones was strenuous in suggesting that the award was a celebration of the team and not him as a coach, there can be no denying the amazing record of success that Jones brought to the Malad
Basketball program.  

Jones began his teaching and coaching career at Hawthorne Middle School in Pocatello, where he “learned the ropes” from coaches at nearby schools, such as the athletic powerhouse of Pocatello High School, winners of this year’s 4A state tournament.

In 1981, he moved to Malad and began coaching at Malad High School.  Within a few years, the seeds of what would become a legendary program had begun to flower.  Between the years of 1984 and 1996, Jones’ teams would go on to reach the state tournament 13 straight times.  Of those trips, the teams netted six state championship trophies, and four runners up.  They also acquired seven other awards of various sorts along their journey.  Even outside that remarkable run of seasons, the teams put on the court with Jones at the helm were always fiercely competitive and a major force in the Southeast Idaho and state brackets they found themselves facing.

Out of all the championship teams, the 1992 team one has a special place for him.  “The first one was super in 1985, because we weren’t expected to win.  The second one in 1992 was a bit different because there was a lot of pressure on us.  We were ranked number one the whole time.”

“In 1994 we went 25-1.  And in 1996, we also went 25-1, so they were super teams too.”

“Justin broke his foot in the district tournament, so that was an issue.  In the first two games he took it kind of easy, but in the last one he went all out to make sure we would win.”

Jones shared the humorous anecdote that Justin also experienced severe stomach distress as the result of a flu during the district tournament in Soda Springs.  At halftime, “we go into the locker room, and Justin goes into the bathroom and he’s sick to his stomach, throwing up and everything.  So, I’m trying to talk to the rest of the team, and their eyes are as big as basketballs, and they’re going ‘oh dear…’” he related.  “Justin had a broken foot and the flu—it was a tough tournament for him,”
Jones laughed.

In addition to the satisfaction of coaching his hometown team to repeated victory, he also had the pleasure of coaching his sons Justin, Tyler, and Trevor, who have all gone on to become very successful coaches in their own right, including Trevor’s fantastic run this year with the Malad Girls Basketball team, and Tyler’s success at Preston and Justin’s at Rigby.  As a cross country coach, he also had the opportunity to coach his daughter Erin.  Asked whether they still asked him for coaching advice, Jones humbly stated that they did so “a little, but they’ve all progressed a lot.  I think they’re beyond me,” he laughed.  “Justin and Ty have won championships, but,” he laughs, “they haven’t been undefeated yet.”

Teams who are nominated for the Legends of the Game award have to have played seasons at least thirty years ago, which means that the Malad 92 team was named in only its second year of eligibility.

Both Marsha and Terry fondly recounted the presence of Jeff Richins, who was the announcer at the games during Jones’ run, and joined the team at the Idaho Center over the weekend.  

“He was just super,” Terry said, after which Marsha added, “He does a great job.  In fact, we were wishing he was announcing this weekend because he’s so good at it.”  

The two also mentioned that Mark Alder “was the scorekeeper during the whole time.  He would be at all the home games, and go to away games, and was just loyal and a great support.”

Marsha stated that to her, what she enjoyed most about the busy years of being an unofficial assistant coach was that “every team was like a family.  We all worked together and looked out for each other.”

Terry reiterated the sentiment.  “It definitely all revolves around the team,” he said, stating that he had really enjoyed working with all the kids over the years, including the members of the 92 team.  “They were friends on and off the court.”

“Whether they won championships or not, they were all great kids,”
Marsha added.

“You’re not going to win every game, and you’re not going to win a championship every year, but they all played hard.  And I’ve always thought that whether you win or lose, as long as you play your best that’s an important one of life’s lessons.  If you do your best, that’s all you can ask.”

“That’s right,” Terry said.  “I always felt that was the key to being a good team was that they got along with and supported each other.”

It’s clear that Terry and Marsha have also gotten along and supported each other over the years.  “She was an excellent assistant coach,” Terry said.  “As soon as we got home she’d let me know what I should have done,” Terry laughed.

“And he never took my advice!” Marsha teased.

“Some of my earliest memories of coaching were her bundling up the kids and getting them in the car and getting them to places like Bear Lake.  She made it to all the places, and was usually on her own with the kids,” Terry said.

The couple recounted one experience when Trevor was supposed to be on the bus with the team when he was six or seven, but somehow didn’t end up at the district tournament the bus was headed to.  “I get to the game, and I’m looking around, and I see everybody where they’re supposed to be and I don’t see Trevor.  I had to go down and tap him on the shoulder and ask ‘Where’s Trevor?’  And his eyes got big and he said ‘I don’t know…’” Marsha laughed.  

Trevor was eventually located, still waiting at the high school.  “At that time, it was like a big family, so we were able to call the school and they found him.  We were all in it together,” Marsha said.

Speaking of the family nature of the team, the Joneses were delighted that almost everyone was able to make it to the ceremony, Kyle Phillips and Justin Schwartz being the only exceptions.  In the intervening years, Coach Jones has not seen many of his former players, who are spread around the country, from Wisconsin to Utah and Idaho.  Although manager Dallas Jones, Clint Bastian, Sheldon  Vaughan and Craig Buttars, as well as Trevor Jones are still in town, it was special to be able to reconnect with those he hadn’t seen in quite a while.  Asked to use his coach’s eye on their prospects for coming out of retirement, Jones dryly added, “There’s four or five of them there that probably could.  They could field a pretty good crew.”

Asked about the recent 2A changes, Jones stated that “it’ll be interesting because Bear Lake is moving up, and we’re adding Wendell and Declo.  We’ll also have more representation at the state tournament.

Jones believes that “the future is looking good” for the Malad Boys Team, who he stated were “on the right track.”  He also praised the efforts of the Girls team, which narrowly missed out on a state birth a few weeks ago after a hard fight against Soda Springs.

Since his retirement, Jones spends time fly fishing, often in the Island Park area where he and Marsha live from around April to November.  He fishes the river and Henry’s Lake for trout as much as he can during the summer, and Daniels Reservoir when he’s in Malad.

Marsha was quick to remind Terry that “you also spend a lot of time chasing around kids and grandkids.”

“Of course,” Terry added.  “They’re all busy playing ball of different types and they have a lot of activities going on.”  In addition to Trevor’s kids, Erin’s daughters Jordan Cook and Bailey Moon have young kids that provide “plenty to do here” in addition to keeping up with the grandkids in Preston and Rigby.

As the two considered what else they wanted to say on the occasion of this prestigious honor, Terry summed it up by saying, “It’s all about the team.  That’s what’s important.  And there were a lot of people that made it up.” 

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