TOP PHOTO: It was a memorable night at Jody Wright Arena on Monday as Wright’s Fulton Falcons advanced to the state tournament all the while winning game number 800 in the career of their legendary coach. (PHOTOS COURTESY OF LUTHER SIMMONS)

KNOXVILLE, TN (WLAF) – The 2021-2022 version of the Fulton basketball team is following a similar path as 18 other Jody Wright coached Fulton teams; west to Murfreesboro and the state basketball tournament. Wright recorded his 800th career win as Fulton defeated Page 69-61 Monday night at Jody Wright Arena, and the veteran coach is the first to tell you that the main thing coming from that sectional win is that his team is still playing.

A healthy crowd cheered Fulton to its 29th win of the season on Monday night as the Falcons qualified to play in the state basketball tournament. Coach Jody Wright, who grew up in Caryville, watches as his team hosts Page.

By the numbers, over almost 37 seasons as head basketball coach at Fulton High School, Wright has 800 wins, claimed three state titles, had five runner-up finishes and appeared in 18 state basketball tournaments; soon to be 19. This year’s team is 29 & 5 and riding a 14-game winning streak.

Fulton senior point guard Desmier Hatchett scores in Monday night’s Fulton win over Page.

Fulton will play on Wednesday, March 16, at Murphy Center on the campus of MTSU in the 12:30pm (EDT) game. The Falcons will take on the Fayette-Ware Wildcats out of Somerville. The Wildcats are 26 & 6 and have won 17 straight games.

Both teams have two common opponents; Alcoa and South Doyle. Fayette-Ware lost to South Doyle and defeated Alcoa in a holiday tournament at Cleveland while Fulton split with Alcoa and won both meetings with South Doyle in regular season games. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/08/2022-PHOTOS COURTESY OF LUTHER SIMMONS)

Here’s one of WLAF’s favorite archived stories of Jody Wright:

Caryville’s Jody Wright wins Number 700 – March 5, 2018

Fulton is Murfreesboro-bound.  Again.

There they were sitting on the front row of bleachers in the gym at Happy Valley High School.  It was March 1990.  Former HVHS Warriors Walter “Buck” Van Huss (1,021 wins) and Charlie Bayless (960+ wins) were chatting hours before Happy Valley was to host Fulton in a sub-state basketball game.  In-between two of the winningest high school basketball coaches in the history of the game was 29-year old Jody Wright.  And I had a front row seat to the conversation.

Little did I know Buck would never coach another game.  He died later that summer.  I had no clue that Charlie would coach until he was 88-years old.  And Jody.  Well.  I felt deep down he’d be successful.  But even in my best dreams for his success, I would never have thought he’d win 702 games.

Fast forward 28-years, three state titles, countless trips to the state tourney at Murfreesboro, and now 700 Falcon wins later, Jody starts getting his team ready this afternoon for one more ride to Murphy Center.  That comes after last night’s 90 to 57 win over Unicoi County on the floor of Jody Wright Arena.

The one-time Caryville Cardinal said after the milestone win, “I’m just a small part of the puzzle right there but it’s been a good run and the main thing is I’m glad were still playing.”

Fulton learns tonight who it will be playing in next week’s state tourney.

You may be wondering where those two other wins were earned.  In Wright’s first head coaching assignment, at Maynardville High School, he was 2 & 20-something just part of the learning experience like that March afternoon in 1990 with Buck and Charlie. (WLAF NEWS RE-PUBLISHED – 07/25/2019-6AM)