Governor Jim Justice said earlier this week that he has submitted his retirement as head coach of the Greenbrier East boys basketball team.
“First and foremost, beyond any doubt, my chief responsibility is to serve the people of West Virginia as their elected Governor,” Justice said. “That said, I will surely miss coaching and mentoring all of these fine young men.”
Justice has led the Greenbrier East boys basketball program since the 2010-11 season. Over that six-year span he guided the Spartans to some of the greatest moments in school history including compiling the best two-year start to a Greenbrier East coaching career with 33 wins, the most by any head boys basketball coach in school history. He also won his 100th game faster than any coach ever at Greenbrier East.
During the past six years Justice has guided both the boys and girls basketball programs. In 2012, the Spartans advanced to the Regional Championship at Parkersburg, and four nights later his Lady Spartans won the Class AAA State Championship over Bridgeport. He followed that up in 2013 by guiding the Lady Spartans to a 22-0 regular season – the first undefeated boys or girls basketball season in Greenbrier East history. His 44 combined Spartans and Lady Spartans victories that season are a West Virginia State High School Basketball Record for most combined victories by any boys and girls head coach in the same year.
The 2013 season saw Greenbrier East start off the season with a school record 15 victories including a win over number 2 ranked Beckley. It was the Spartans first win over Beckley at the Raleigh County Armory in 37 years. The Eagles would advance to the Class AAA State Championship game later that season. The Spartans finished 20-5 for the school’s first 20-win season since 1986.
The 2015 season was one of the best in school history. Justice led Greenbrier East to a 22-4 record, the second most wins in school history, trailing only the 1972 Class AAA State Championship team that finished 25-1. Playing on the road in the Regional Championship, the Spartans defeated the top ranked Capital Cougars, 55-51, for Greenbrier East’s first Class AAA State Tournament appearance in 13 seasons. It was the biggest upset in school history as the Spartans advanced to play eventual State Champion Huntington in the Class AAA quarterfinals.
Under Coach Justice, the Spartans were 103-48 (.682) in six seasons, highlighted by two 20-win seasons, only the fifth and sixth in Greenbrier East’s 49-year history. His teams defeated three teams ranked number one in the state – Capital, Bluefield, and Tug Valley. The Spartans beat Beckley three consecutive seasons for the first time since the mid-1980s, while Greenbrier East boys basketball was ranked as high as second in the Metronews Power Index, third in the Associated Press poll and first in the Basketball Friday Night in West Virginia ratings.
Justice arrived in Greenbrier County in November 2000 as head coach of the Greenbrier East Lady Spartans basketball program. Throughout 17 seasons coaching the girls team, he has won 314 games, including 13 Sectional titles, nine Regional titles, with two State Championship game appearances, including the 2012 Class AAA State Championship. In 23 combined seasons, his 417 total wins rank Justice as the all-time winningest coach in Greenbrier East history.
Justice has coached several Greenbrier East players to college careers, including Division I signees Anna Hammaker (Kansas State), Cheyenne Hooper (Kansas State), Jill Justice (Clemson and Marshall), Katie Kilcollin (Winthrop), Richard Romeo (West Virginia), Obi Romeo (St. Joseph’s and Longwood), Rondale Watson (Wake Forest and Marshall) and Bryce Woodliff (Georgia Southern), among others. Justice will remain as head coach of the Lady Spartans basketball program.