Hilltoppers under new management

RandleHOUSTON – “Excited, but nervous,” is how Orlando Randle said he feels about moving into the head coaching position for the Houston Hilltopper’s basketball team.

Randle will replace Bruce Franks who retired from the public school system after 33 years, 28 of those years teaching and coaching in the Houston District.
Randle, a native of Aberdeen, began his career in education in January 2012, teaching Physical Education at Houston Middle School and assisting Franks with the boy’s basketball program. He spent his first full year in the district last year as a P.E. instructor and assisted Vernessa Gates with the girl’s team, so his feet are firmly planted on the gymnasium floor.
The Hilltoppers are coming off a positive season that ended in the second round of North Half playoffs (20-5, 5-0) which puts Randle assuming the leadership role of an established and successful program. Although he does have plans to tweak the program to fit his style, he feels the basic foundation is sound.
“I’d like to speed up a little,” Randle said. “Get up and down the floor faster. But overall it will be very similar.”
As Randle assumed the coaching position after the conclusion of the school year, he will not be able to hold tryouts until a new academic year begins. Tryouts for the high school team are scheduled for August 10, but potential team members are welcome to practice and work on their skills during the summer from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the gymnasium.
“We have open gym,” Randle said. “Anyone who is interested in playing next year can come and shoot.”
Randle earned his degree in Kinsiology from Mississippi State University. He and wife, Ilana, have two children and she works in the Aberdeen School District. The Randles live in the Egypt community of Chickasaw County.