THE GRIND: LaFour Laying Groundwork for Lee Basketball
EVERY COACH HAS THAT MENTOR. SOMEONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM. FOR CHANCE LAFOUR, IT WAS HIS COACH SAM PRIEST AT STERLING HIGH SCHOOL.
“I’ve had a few mentors, but none bigger than Coach Priest,” the first-year head coach at Lee High School said. “I’ll never forget a text conversation we had. He told me that my time was coming. He said it was coming sooner than I thought.”
Months later Priest passed away. That text came before the 2020-21 season when LaFour was the lead assistant at Pasadena High. The Eagles would go on to have a historic season, winning district and a playoff game for the first time in 30 years.
“We clinched the district against Pasadena Memorial and his son, Wilson (Priest), was an assistant for them,” he said. “Wilson being on the court, even as an opponent, was a sign that Coach Priest was there for my biggest moment.”
As predicted by Priest, LaFour’s time had come.
He would be hired as the head coach of Lee High School boys basketball last May and just finished his first season.
“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better,” he said. “To get my first head coaching job and being able to come back home to Baytown is a dream come true.”
It’s been a grind for LaFour, but that is how he likes it.
After graduating from Sterling, he enrolled at Lee College and caught on with the basketball team and coach Roy Champagne. He did everything from running the shot clock to being an assistant coach. He worked at Lee College while getting his degree at the University of Houston, but the college game wasn’t for him.
“That was the original goal, but I became a family man,” he said. “I didn’t want to be on the road like that.”
His journey to get a head coaching job started at Gentry Junior High, where he coached three sports. He then got the call-up to Sterling High School from then-coach Greg Smith. He was there for three seasons.
“I took a chance,” he said. “I had to make a move and get some experience outside of the district, so I took the Pasadena assistant job.”
Little-known coach Jason Pillow was just getting started. When LaFour got there, they won four games, then eight, then 15 and then a district title. “
Coach Pillow got me prepared to be a head coach,” he said. “I appreciate the fact that he gave me so much responsibility. I saw firsthand how he changed the culture there.
“Like Pasadena, Lee has never been thought of as a basketball school. We are going to change the mentality.”
LaFour inherited a Ganders team that won five games in the 2020-21 season. It was senior-heavy, so the cupboard was pretty bare. LaFour came in and played an inexperienced lineup.
“We went to the youth movement a little earlier than we thought with five sophomores and a freshman,” he said. “We went to work.”
Lee won seven games this season.
“Next year, the goal is to double those wins and then play for that fourth playoff spot,” he said. “When these guys are seniors, I expect them to be in the playoffs. The situation at Pasadena was very similar and I’m just going to do it again. It will be a fun ride."