Joe Marelle knows plenty about comebacks, so he could appreciate Jazz Favors' situation.
Favors, a senior at Alpharetta's Mt. Pisgah Christian School, broke his ankle in football and had surgery to put pins in his ankle. He was told to forget about basketball.
Although he's still hobbled a bit by the injury, Favors did return to the basketball team and chip in with key plays, including a big steal and free throws in this past Saturday's 58-52 win over Deerfield-Windsor in the Georgia
Independent School Association Class AAA finals.
"After (Favors) snapped his ankle, people told him 'It's over,'" said Marelle, a former Duluth coach who has the Wildcats' gym named in his honor. "It's not over. People told me I had 30 days to live and here I am. It's not over.
"He not only comes back, but ends his senior year and his career with a big note. He contributes and wins the state championship. It was amazing."
The state championship - Marelle's first in a long, successful career - also capped quite an impressive comeback for the veteran coach. He battled two life-threatening illnesses, first non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and then Leukemia, and lost his head coaching job at Duluth because of the health issues.
But Mt. Pisgah offered Marelle a chance to return to coaching, and the return was triumphant last weekend. His team capped a 21-1 season, the 21 wins matching his old jersey number as well as the one worn by his son Tony, Mt. Pisgah's junior point guard.
The big win even came at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, where he coached for two seasons and met his wife Kathy. He saw some old friends on the trip, including a man who played for him back in 1981.
Then he got to see his son Tony score 10 points and run the offense in a state-title win. Ralph Sampson also had 14 points, seven rebounds and six blocks for Mt. Pisgah, in just its third season of organized basketball.
"What a great year and what a great little school," said Marelle, who was named AAA Coach of the Year on Monday. "Our goal was to improve on last year's record but our ultimate goal was the state championship. Fortunately we were able to accomplish both."