Hardin pulls his name from Hilltopper hat

from staff reports

   The head coaching job for the Science Hill boys basketball team still ranks among the most prized positions in the area, and probably the state, in high school athletics. However, the prospect for any added prestige wasn't enough to keep Tony Hardin's name in the Hilltopper hat.
   Finding the comfort-level at Elizabethton High too good to leave behind, the Cyclone head coach on Tuesday officially withdrew his name from consideration at Science Hill.
   "I talked to (Science Hill) earlier today," Hardin said Tuesday night. "Nothing against them, but Elizabethton is where I want to be right now."
   Hardin, who's been coaching basketball at EHS in some capacity since the 1984-85 season, has served as head coach of the Cyclone boys team the last nine seasons. In the 2002-03 campaign, he took Elizabethton to its first state tournament in 20 years, and he has a pair of Watauga Conference championships as well as two Region 1-AA titles, among other honors, to his credit.
   His decision to stay at 'Betsy, though, wasn't based entirely on basketball.
   "Elizabethton is a good place," Hardin said. "I've got two sons who graduated from there, and I've got an awful lot of good friends there. It's just a good place to be. There's very good community support there, and this year's team is something I really don't want to leave.
   "It came down to the fact that Elizabethton's a good fit for me right now."
   Having coached sons Steven and T.J. at EHS, Hardin's third son, Ben, will be a junior on this year's Cyclone squad. And while the forthcoming Elizabethton team isn't expected to be super talented, the players have been busy endearing themselves to their coach.
   "This team has been working really hard," Hardin said. "We've had a real nice summer, and the attitudes of the kids have been really, really good."