During the closed session of the April 18 Sedalia 200 Board of Education meeting, Ben Lyles was hired as head coach for the Smith-Cotton High boys basketball program.

Lyles, a 1997 graduate of Smith-Cotton, was a team captain and three-year letter winner for the Tigers in both basketball and football. He also earned a football letter at the University of Missouri-Columbia as a wide receiver/defensive back.

He has 14 years of coaching experience, serving as head coach of the Sacred Heart High football program from 2011-2017 and assistant head coach for the Sacred Heart boys basketball program from 2015-2018. He is the founder and head coach of the Sedalia Burners youth basketball traveling team and was head coach for MO Team Carroll Premier (now MPJ Elite) based in Columbia from 2016-2017.

Lyles earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management from the University of Missouri-Columbia (2002) and a master of business administration degree in business administration and technology management from the University of Phoenix (2007). Lyles has worked in management and production improvement roles for Wireco WorldGroup, Regal Beloit, Parkhurst Manufacturing, Gardner Denver and General
Cable/Alcan.

Smith-Cotton Athletic Director Rob Davis said, "I am excited to begin working with Coach Lyles as our new boys basketball coach. Our hiring committee was impressed with his understanding of our community and his detailed vision for the future. Coach Lyles will build positive connections with our student-athletes and all stakeholders involved with the boys basketball team."

Lyles is intent on increasing the number of Sedalia 200 boys playing basketball from youth leagues up to varsity, and on building a winning culture.

“Obviously, we haven’t had the kind of success that the community wants over the past few years, but we have a history of being a very competitive program,” he said. “For me, goal No. 1 is to put a more competitive brand on the floor. … Year 1, I want to see us win the games we should be winning, be more competitive in those games where we are pretty evenly matched and close the gap significantly with the teams on the upper end."

Lyles plans to be heavily involved in the Sedalia Youth Basketball Association to help more students have more opportunities to play the game. He also wants to explore ways for more players to get involved with area traveling teams to help them improve their skill levels.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity, grateful to the people who have helped my development to get me to this point,” Lyles said. “Going back to 2005, 2006, this is something that had been on my radar; (I wanted) to have the opportunity to come in to help guide or build a solid basketball program for the Sedalia community. I’m very hungry, very excited – I am just ready to get to work. We are going to build a pretty strong program.”