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story.lead_photo.caption In this 2017 file photo, Landon Harrison of the Helias Crusaders is presented with a commemorative ball by coach Josh Buffington after scoring his 1,000th career point during a game against Hickman at Rackers Fieldhouse. Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

I can only imagine the Jefferson City Public School District is getting tired of having to hire head coaches.

When the coronavirus pandemic began a little more than 13 months ago, that was one thing that kept the News Tribune sports desk busy for a couple of months. It seemed like there were coaching changes happening on a daily basis at Jefferson City area high schools.

In the past year, Capital City High School has had to hire a girls basketball coach and, within the past week, a football coach.

It has been a busier hiring process at Jefferson City High School. First it was a girls basketball coach the Lady Jays had to secure, then the Jays hired two football head coaches, one a few months before the 2020 season started and another a few months after the season ended.

The most recent JCPS hire was announced Friday afternoon, and it was a big one. Former Helias coach Josh Buffington will be taking over as Jays boys basketball head coach.

Last June, when Jefferson City hired Scott Bailey as its football head coach, I considered it a "home run" hire. It's extremely difficult to hire a football coach during the summer, a time when practically every football coach already has a job lined up for the upcoming season.

So when you're able to hire a seven-time state championship head coach less than two months before the start of fall practice, then yes, I'd consider that a home run.

Buffington is also a "home run" hire for Jefferson City, and here's why.

The football coach hiring process can be a draining one. It took Jefferson City a matter of days to go from Terry Walker's resignation to Bailey's hiring. However, the process is often much longer. It took two months before Jefferson City hired Damon Wells, then it took Capital City two months before announcing it had hired Joe Collier last Wednesday.

The basketball coach hiring process doesn't usually take two months, but it barely took Jefferson City two weeks to hire Buffington. He may not have seven state championships to his name, but seven district titles and three Final Four appearances in a 10-year span is nothing to sneeze at.

What Tony Phillips did this past season was impressive. Very few basketball teams are capable of the turnaround the Jays had, going from a 1-8 start to coming up one basket and a defensive stop shy of a state quarterfinal appearance.

I think Buffington will be able to pick up right where Phillips left off before resigning earlier this month.

Buffington stepped aside from coaching high school basketball in May 2018 to spend more time with his family. Now, as his children are getting closer and closer to starting high school, the timing of Jefferson City's opening for a basketball coach was perfect for him.

Not even a few hours after his hiring, Buffington was already talking about making it his goal to fill every seat at Fleming Fieldhouse next season, assuming attendance restrictions due to COVID-19 are lifted by then. That's the kind of enthusiasm the Jays need.

As soon as Buffington's hiring was announced, I know I wasn't the only person to pull up the 2021-22 basketball schedules for Jefferson City and Helias. In case you didn't look into that, the tentative schedule has them meeting Jan. 18 at Rackers Fieldhouse, but there's always a chance they could meet a month earlier in the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Buffington will be the fourth head coach in six seasons for the Jefferson City boys basketball program. Based on what I saw in covering Buffington and his Helias Crusaders for two seasons, it's safe to say JCPS won't need to accept any applications for a boys basketball coach for quite some time.

Buffington is here to stay.

The JCPS athletic department can finally relax, now that it currently has a head coach for every sport at both high schools.

But given Buffington's trademark sideline stomping during games, they might have to invest in refinishing the gym floor at Fleming Fieldhouse after every basketball season.

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