Once a coach, always a coach: Boutte back in element as Gamble tourney starts

Published 7:46 pm Monday, December 26, 2016

Coaching basketball has never left Andre Boutte. He just hadn’t coached in a few years.

“It never really left my system, but when I made the decision to be athletic director, I accepted the decision that my coaching career could be over,” said Boutte, the former Port Arthur ISD athletic director. “What coach [James] Gamble told me years ago, don’t forget your basketball.”

Funny how things work out.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Boutte moved on from his AD role, which was eliminated at the end of the last school year, and returned to the sideline for his latest head coaching role at West Brook. He left his job as Ozen’s coach in the middle of the 2008-09 season to accept the Port Arthur position.

The Port Arthur ISD board voted in September 2015 to cut the athletic director position. Now, Boutte feels he’s returning to his element by leading the Bruins (4-7) into the James Gamble Classic at Port Arthur Memorial.

Boutte led Lincoln to state championships in 1991 and 1995, and Gamble — the legendary coach who guided Lincoln to four titles in the 1980s — has been Boutte’s mentor since his arrival in Port Arthur in 1989.

“I know a lot of my ex-players will be there,” said Boutte, who was inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in May. “It’s always good to go back and be able to honor coach Gamble. That’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing.”

Second-year Memorial coach Kenneth Coleman, a former player of Gamble’s, thinks Boutte’s presence in this year’s Classic, which begins Tuesday, will draw plenty of interest from fans.

“There are other tournaments he could have gone to, but I certainly appreciate him,” Coleman said.

“We [as coaches] don’t get to play the game. Any time I get to coach against a Hall of Fame coach, that’s definitely something I look forward to. It’s something I learn from,” Coleman added.

Memorial (9-4) won the first meeting 68-46 in Beaumont’s Fred Williams Classic on Nov. 25, but Coleman acknowledged Boutte didn’t have all of his players available. (The West Brook football team was still competing in the 6A playoffs.) The Bruins, though, went 11 for 29 in free throws that game, Boutte said.

If West Brook defeats El Campo in Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. game and Memorial beats Houston Wheatley in the 7 p.m. game, the Bruins and Titans will meet Wednesday night in the semifinal round.

So far, Boutte has seen improvement each game in his team, which finished 7-16 last season and competed with Memorial in District 21-6A, but he described the Bruins a work in progress.

“We’ve played playoff-caliber opponents, and they don’t just allow you to just settle in,” Boutte said.

One challenge Boutte encountered in his return to coaching is simply getting familiar with his players, who met their new coach when school began in August. Senior guard Curley Amacker leads the Bruins averaging 15 points per game, while 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Clayton Carpenter contributes 10 a game.

“Each day that we’re around we each other, we’re learning something new,” Boutte said. “If it’s not on the basketball court, it’s just learning about that person.”

But Boutte added he hasn’t needed to brush up on anything about the coaching aspect.

“Just actually on the sideline coaching was something I hadn’t done in a few years,” he said. “As far as interacting and being around, I was always supportive of the coaches and kids I was working with. There’s competing, regardless of what the sport is.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

email author More by I.C.