MENLO — Longtime assistant Jay Pearson has been promoted to head boys basketball coach at Willapa Valley High School, Valley athletic director John Peterson reported Thursday.
The 47-year-old Pearson succeeds Peterson, who resigned the basketball job last spring but will continue as a football assistant and athletic director.
Pearson’s Willapa Valley roots run deep. The son of the late longtime Viking coach and athletic director Jack Pearson, Jay graduated from the Menlo school in 1986 and played on state-qualifying basketball teams as a junior and senior. His basket with 11 seconds remaining gave the Vikings a two-point win over Morton in a winner-to-state, loser-out game in 1985.
He joined the Valley faculty in 1997 and joined Peterson’s basketball coaching staff that season.
“He’s the one who got me at Valley and I’ve been coaching with him ever since,” Pearson said Thursday.
“We’ve been together the whole time,” Peterson agreed. “I’ve really leaned on him. He is a great teacher of the game and has deep ties in the community.”
Pearson also spent several years as Valley’s head track coach and directed the Viking boys to the state Class B boys team title in 2002. He is currently dean of students at Willapa Elementary School.
Given Valley’s tradition of boys basketball success under Peterson, Pearson isn’t planning many stylistic changes.
“We’ll continue with what works,” he said.
Pearson said his brother Jon, a former head basketball coach at South Bend, will join him on Willapa Valley’s staff.
“The neat thing is that Jon and I have been extrensively involved in the youth program and that will continue,” Jay Pearson said.