SWD coach hits 500 wins

Southwest DeKalb High School’s head girls’ basketball coach Kathy RicheyWalton reached 500 career wins on Feb. 7 when her Lady Panthers squad defeated the Stephenson Lady Jaguars 53-26 at Stephenson.

Walton entered the season at 481-160 and has gone 19-5 for a total of 500 wins and 165 losses. She has a 75.2 win percentage in 22 seasons at Southwest DeKalb and is the third winningest active DeKalb County School District coach behind Columbia boys’ head coach Phil McCrary (717-242, five state titles) and Stephenson girls’ head coach Dennis Watkins (532-215, three state titles).

“A lot of people contributed to the 500 wins,” said Walton. “Not only the players and coaches, but the parents, administrators, teachers, students and the Southwest DeKalb community made the 500 wins possible.”

Walton—the court at Southwest DeKalb has been named in her honor—has five state championships to her name at Southwest DeKalb. Her teams won three titles in a row from 2008-2010 and returned to the top in 2013 and 2016.

Southwest DeKalb made eight state championship game appearances in her first 21 seasons and 18 playoff appearances. The 18 appearances include 10 semifinal appearances, 10 Elite 8 appearances, and 15 Sweet 16 appearances.

The Lady Panthers’ program is currently on an 11-playoff appearance streak, after last missing the playoffs in 2011. The only other non-playoff seasons were in 2004 (the only losing season in Walton’s time at Southwest DeKalb) and 2005. Her staff includes Terrie Montgomery, Joyce Paul, Michael Holloway, and Iesha Gilliam.

“I feel extremely blessed to have the good fortune to be surrounded by so many people who wanted the student athletes at Southwest DeKalb to be successful,” added Walton. “I feel fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, and I’m not sure if we could have accomplished so much anywhere else. Also, my family has been such a tremendous support through this journey.”

In addition to the 500 wins, Walton was named the 2008 and 2010 Garland F. Pinholster High School Coach of the Year, the 2009 Black Coaches and Administrators National High School Coach of the Year, the 2009 Bobby Cremins State Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010, the 2008 DeKalb County Coach of the Year, and the 2009 Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Teacher of the Year. Walton was also named the 2014 Southwest DeKalb High School Teacher of the Year.

Walton also coached the Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers to the program’s 1,000th win in 2022. In 2023, Walton and her staff were selected to coach in the McDonald’s High School All-American girls’ game.

The Champion Editor Jay Phillips contributed to this piece.

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