Tucker basketball coach makes Clark Atlanta Hall of Fame

By Mark Brock and Jay Phillips

 

Tucker High School boys’ head basketball coach James Hartry was inducted into Clark Atlanta University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in October.

Hartry joins Dennis Roberts (basketball), Gwendolyn Louise Rainey Gillespie (tennis), and Parrish Lamar Preston (tennis) as the Hall of Fame honorees named by the Clark Atlanta Athletics Boosters Association.

“I’ve received a lot of honors over the years, such [as] region and state Coach of the Year [and] Teacher of the Year, but to be recognized for the Hall of Fame at the college I graduated from might just be the best yet,” said Hartry, who was a point guard at Clark Atlanta. “I had [a] pretty good career at Clark, but maybe the work I’ve done teaching and coaching for the last 45 years played a role in getting the honor.”

Hartry helped lead Clark Atlanta to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) regular season championship in 1981 along with a runner-up finish in the conference tournament that same season. Hartry attended Clark from 1979 to 1982 and played basketball for three seasons.

Hartry is entering his 24th season as Tucker’s basketball coach and is sitting third all-time in the DeKalb boys’ basketball record book with a 464-200 record.

His teams have reached the state playoffs in 18 of 23 seasons, including five semifinal appearances and two state title game appearances. Hartry’s team won the 2007 class 4A state title 56-51 over fellow DeKalb rival Columbia. His squads have reached the 20-win plateaus 13 times, including a best of 31-2 in the state title season of 2007. Six of those 13 teams won 25 or more games.

Hartry has 19 consecutive winning seasons and 20 overall. His only losing seasons came in three of his first four years heading the program.

He said the preseason honor will motivate him this season.

“I’ve gotten a lot of honors … but the hall of fame is a whole different subject,” said Hartry. “You don’t get in the hall of fame by being a good coach or a good player, you do it by being a standup person. But now I have that bullseye on my back. You can’t just sit back; you have to show people why you’re a hall of famer.”

Hartry wasn’t shy about his team’s potential, crediting an offseason that included two summer leagues and fall league for keeping his team active and continually improving.

“My thing is, you don’t get better if you don’t play,” said Hartry. “I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the region. That’s what we play for, and I want my guys to have that mentality. We’re good enough to win it all, we just have to put it together.”

Tucker was 5-4 and 1-1 in region play at press time.

In early 2023, administration from Tucker High School also announced the creation of the James Hartry Scholarship. The scholarship fund was “established to assist one outstanding student in the pursuit of his/her academic goals at an accredited four-year college/university. This scholarship was created by colleagues, friends, parents, and students in honor of James Hartry, who has dedicated his life to the education of students in grades 9th -12th in the DeKalb County School System,” according to a news release.

Additionally, Hartry has coached the Tucker tennis teams for 19 of the last 20 seasons. The boys and girls have both reached the state playoffs on eight occasions.

Photo by Jahlani Baptiste (@herdmultimedia)

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