Prep Basketball: Causby takes post at Mallard Creek

Published 10:29 pm Friday, July 7, 2017

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Jason Causby, named this week as the head boys basketball coach at Charlotte’s Mallard Creek High, will bring a sense of humor to his latest challenge.

“After I accepted the job, they sent me a copy of the schedule,” Causby said. “I sort of wish they’d sent it before I took the job. There are no gimmes.”

It’s going to be a brave new world for Causby, a 41-year-old who is returning to the high-profile world of prep basketball coaching after a brief hiatus.

Last school year, Causby coached the East Rowan girls tennis team, a low-key assignment where moms bring snacks and there are plenty of hugs and polite applause. To go from coaching East Rowan girls tennis to Mallard Creek boys basketball is making the sort of leap that would win a dunk contest.

Of course, Causby’s background is in basketball gyms. His hoops credibility, along with his teaching ability in special education, is why he was hired by Mallard Creek. East’s 9-3 tennis record and trip to the second round of the 3A playoffs probably didn’t enter into the hiring process.

Causby played basketball at West Rowan and graduated from Catawba College. His first coaching opportunity came with the Concord High jayvees.

Causby’s most recent high school basketball coaching work was at Salisbury High. That was actually a two-part tenure. He coached the Hornet boys from the 2004-05 season to the 2009-10 season, moved across town to North Hills Christian School for a year, then returned to Salisbury for the 2011-12 through 2014-15 seasons.

Those were banner-hanging seasons at SHS. In Causby’s 10 seasons at the 2A school, there were three firsts, five seconds and two thirds in the Central Carolina Conference race. For some of those seasons, North Rowan was a state power in 2A, while Thomasville and Lexington are always tough, so Causby experienced success in a rugged environment.

In the 2008-09 season, Salisbury smashed opponents during a 28-game winning streak, losing only on opening night and in a sectional final to finish 28-2. That was a team spearheaded by Darien Rankin, a UNC football recruit.

Causby’s career record at Salisbury was 157-111. He’s tied for seventh all-time in boys basketball wins in Rowan County with Kelly Everhart (North).

“There will always be a special place in my heart for Salisbury High, and those days when things were rolling there in a lot of sports,” Causby said.

Causby also proved to be an exceptional tournament coach at Salisbury, with five CCC tournament titles (2007-10, 2012), plus three championships (2007-09) in the pressure cooker of the Sam Moir Christmas Classic where the Hornets took on local 3A and 4A schools at Catawba College. Causby nearly had four titles in a row, but Salisbury fell to East Rowan in double overtime in the 2006 final.

“When I resigned at Salisbury (in the spring of 2015), it was the right thing to do at that time,” Causby said. “I was able to focus on my family and I got to spend time at places that I’d really been missing.  I always felt like I might return to basketball coaching at some point, but you never know. There aren’t a lot of schools that  I would have come back for, but Mallard Creek is one of those schools. It’s one of the best athletic schools in the state. They won three straight football state championships recently and they won the track state championship this year. There’s a chance to accomplish a lot in basketball.”

Causby said his wife, Rebecca, and his children, daughter Jaysa (13) and sons Grey (10) and Griggs (7) fully support his return to the spotlight.

“My kids have kind of been asking for a while when I was going to get back into it,” Causby said with a laugh.

The Mallard Creek post opened up in May with head coach Jon Hancock returning to his roots and taking the helm at East Lincoln.

“When I saw the Mallard Creek job was open, I sent in my resumé,” Causby said. “I wanted to see if I could at least get an interview.”
He got more than that. Mallard Creek AD Philip Davanzo told the Charlotte Observer that Causby was the choice, after a detailed selection process, from among 60 applicants.

The Causbys, who live in southeastern Rowan, won’t have to relocate.  Mallard Creek is on the north side of Charlotte, only 33 miles from their house. Traffic can crawl moving south from Rowan County, but Causby figures he’ll be leaving for school so early in the morning that he’s only going to have to fight the congestion battle once a day, on his way home.

Last weekend, Causby and his wife attended the wedding of former Salisbury sharpshooter Doug Campbell, one of the athletes who helped Causby get things headed in the right direction at Salisbury.

“Going to Doug’s wedding was a great day and a reminder of why I wanted to coach in the first place,” Causby said. “The wins and losses, they come and go, but the relationships between coaches and players are lasting.”

Causby believes there was another good omen this week, a chance meeting with Romar Morris, another of his former Salisbury players, at the local Lowe’s Home Improvement store. During his days as a UNC running back, Morris’ roommate was Marquise Williams, the former Mallard Creek quarterback.

Causby has been introduced to his new team, but this week was one of those NCHSAA mandated “dead periods.” He’ll have a chance to start working with his athletes next week before another dead period kicks in on July 17.

The Mallard Creek Mavericks were 18-8 last season. As Causby noted, the schedule will be difficult.

Realignment, as far as basketball, will make Mallard Creek’s revised league even tougher. Conference foes include Hough, North Meck, West Charlotte, Hopewell, Vance, Lake Norman and Mooresville.

“It’s going to be a league full of top-notch athletes,” Causby said. “But this is the right time to broaden my horizons.”