Whitesburg KY

Boys’ coach is dismissed from duties

Raymond Justice has been dismissed as boys’ basketball coach at Letcher County Central High School despite winning the 53rd District championship and advancing to the semifinals of the 14th Regional Tournament the last two seasons.

Letcher Schools Superintendent Anna Craft declined to comment on her reason for firing Justice from his coaching duties, but did say he will remain as a teacher in the district. Justice was being paid $81,000 annually for his teaching and coaching duties.

Craft also said there is no truth to rumors that Justice had fallen out of favor among some of the five elected members who make up the Letcher County Board of Education.

Justice acknowledged to a Mountain

Eagle reporter that he no longer has a coaching job at LCCHS, but declined to comment further.

Justice was hired to become Letcher Central’s first coach in summer 2005. Inheriting players who had a combined 22-55 won-loss record in the just-completed 2004- 05 season at Fleming-Neon, Letcher and Whitesburg high schools, Justice was able to guide the first-year Cougars to 16 wins against 11 losses.

After the Cougars completed an injury-plagued 2006-07 season with a 14-14 record, they bounced back to finish the next season with a 21- 11 record and the school’s first district championship.

The team improved to 22-8 in the 2008-09 season.

Justice is a former head coach at Belfry High School and assistant coach at Pikeville College. While at Belfry, his teams won three 15th Region titles.

Justice’s dismissal caught members of his coaching staff by surprise.

“It came as a shock to me,” said Steve Banks, an assistant who had already announced his retirement from coaching. “I’ve been his assistant for four years and I thought he did a heck of a job.”

Banks’s son, Charlie, is a graduating senior who was a four-year star under the tutelage of Justice.

“I cannot think of anybody I’d rather have coaching my boy than Raymond Justice,” said Banks, a former Letcher County sheriff. “I’m proud that my son played for him.”

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