BREAKING NEWS: Bandys hires Hickory girls’ assistant as varsity boys’ head coach (updated)

Published Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Brandon Helms is son of Barbara Helms,

head girls’ hoops coach of Red Tornadoes


A look at the 14 previous head boys’ varsity basketball coaches at Bandys High since 1970-71 when the late Bill Bost arrived from Hiddenite to lead the Trojans:
Coach                            Years
*Bill Bost                         18
*Mike Matheson              3
Dee Gibbs                          1
Brian Brown                     5
Aron Gabriel                     6
Mark Lynch                       3
James Littlejohn              1
Brad Gabriel                     4
*Mark Story                      1
Scott Stilwell                     2
Jason Barnes                    1
Adam Dutka                     4
Matt Oaks                          1
Robbie Bliss                      1
TOTALS                         51
Notes: Bost coached 17 state playoff teams, Matheson coached 3, Aron Gabriel, Brad Gabriel and Dutka each coached 2 and Gibbs and Brown each coached 1… Bandys has had 22 winning seasons and 29 losing seasons since 1970-71… The Trojans have won 20 or more games in 10 seasons since 1970-71 … Bandys finished third in the state 3A tournament in 1975-76, second in 1978-79 and 1980-81, fourth in 1979-80 in 2A and won a state 2A title in 1981-82… Brown coached the Trojans to their 21st straight state playoff bid in 1992-93 and they have qualified only six times since then.
SOURCE: research and files

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CATAWBA – Bandys High is turning its boys’ varsity basketball program over to an assistant who has worked alongside one of the area’s top basketball coaches and also eaten many dinners at her kitchen table.

On Tuesday, the school announced last year’s boys’ head coach, Robbie Bliss, is headed back to retirement and Brandon Helms has been hired as his replacement.

Helms has been an assistant the last two seasons at Hickory, working with his mom, Barbara, and he is a former star athlete for the Red Tornadoes.

He played football and basketball at Hickory and then played college football at Mars Hill and Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Brandon Helms’ dad, Mike, is a well-known high school football head coach whose stints include running programs at East Burke, Cherryville, West Charlotte, Northwest Cabarrus, Freedom and Hickory.


In an interview Tuesday from a basketball camp at South Iredell, Brandon Helms said he is excited about coaching basketball at Bandys and working on the varsity football team on offense (assignment not yet determined).

“It’s an opportunity at a young age,” Brandon Helms, 24, said. “And it’s a good opportunity. (Bandys) has had some years when things went down.

“But that it is a local job is huge, and I have always wanted to coach boys (basketball).

“The school has a good tradition, and I feel we can build a winning program.”

Once a state power, Bandys is 79-103 the last 10 seasons and 138-306 over the last two decades. Since the late Bill Bost arrived to coach there, the boys’ varsity teams have had 22 winning seasons and 29 losing seasons.

The Trojans last won 20 boys’ games in 1990-91 (23-6, Western 2A Regional qualifier) under the late Mike Matheson.

Brandon Helms said knowing the school has been a big winner in boys’ basketball tells him it can do it again.

“I want to get them to come out and play,” he said. “I told’em today I want them to play football. My goal is to work with (football head coach Jason) Barnes and all the other coaches as well.

“There are guys who haven’t played basketball. I’ve got to get the numbers back up, get them back involved… get the numbers where they should be.”

Bliss leaves with a career record of 290-183 in 19 years. Bandys went 2-12 in the South Fork 2A last season with the only wins coming over West Lincoln, which has lost 84 straight games.

At Hickory, Brandon Helms worked with girls’ varsity teams that went 11-3 last year (lost in West 3A Regional final) and 21-7 the year before.

Helms’ mom has an unofficial record of 426-73 in 18 years at HHS and 464-110 in 21 years overall.

He said he will incorporate many things he learned from coaching with his mom.

“I will bring a lot of things I learned from her and from watching her program and her success,” Brandon Helms said. “We’ll press… and we’ll mentally get after teams. Mentally, we will be defensive-minded with intensity.”

There will be three new varsity boys’ head coaches in the new Catawba Valley 2A Athletic Conference — the others are Phillip Robinson at Lincolnton (replacing John Cloninger) and Nicholas Wilson at Newton-Conover (replacing Matt Wilkinson).


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