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Berkmar hires new coaches for baseball, hoops

Berkmar announced two coaching hires on Thursday, naming South Cobb's Tommy McWhorter as head boys basketball coach and Lithonia's Justin Bishop as head baseball coach.

McWhorter, who replaces Bennie Gibbs, joins the Patriots after an extremely successful two-year run at South Cobb. His 2004-2005 team was 26-3 and reached the Class AAAAA Sweet 16 and this year's squad was 27-3 and made the Elite Eight before falling to Wheeler.

Bishop has gone 54-26 in three seasons at Lithonia, tying for the 2005 region title and finishing second this season. He replaces Alan Maddox.

"We're expecting great things out of both of them," Berkmar athletic director Glenn Wilson said. "They're two quality guys that had great references. They both have a lot of energy and a lot of excitement for their jobs here."

Prior to his run at South Cobb, McWhorter also was a successful coach at Eastside, a school he led to the state tourney three times in six seasons. He won 105 games in six seasons at the Covington school.

The 34-year-old said he's looking forward to coaching at Berkmar, as well as the earlier school hours. South Cobb students got out at 3:25 p.m. each day because of a later start in the morning, which makes Berkmar's 2:10 p.m. release time much more convenient for McWhorter, who drove from his Rockdale County home to South Cobb each day.

"The time they start school and get out is nice," McWhorter said. "And I'm just excited about the opportunity itself. I didn't look into Berkmar. They looked into me. That said enough right there. Those guys thought enough of me to contact me."

The new basketball coach said his main goal is returning Berkmar to its spot among the state's elite. The Patriots had been a state power - winning state titles in 2000 and 2001 - but had slipped in recent years.

"I think that's why they hired me, to get it back to where it was and keep it there," McWhorter said.

Bishop, who played baseball at Berry College, has led his Lithonia teams to 15, 22 and 17 wins in his only three seasons as head coach. A Lilburn resident, he also said the geography of Berkmar was a bonus.

He's now four miles from his new school.

"I live in Lilburn, so this is a little bit closer to home," Bishop said. "Gwinnett County is the premier athletic county in the state, and the opportunity to make that move was a big attraction to me. The facilities and support in Gwinnett County is second to none."