By Max Terrell
Boys Basketball at Newcastle will see a shift in leadership with the hiring of new head coach Kevin Johnson, who looks to not only bring success to the athletes but also develop a new attitude for Racer Basketball.
Johnson started his coaching career at Haskell in Lawrence, Kan. as a graduate assistant after playing his college basketball there. Johnson also coached in Colorado as an assistant and spent some time in Ketchikan, Alaska as a head coach where he developed the future NBA player Damen Bell-Holter and took his team to two state championship games.
After several other coaching jobs, Johnson landed a job at a major 5A school in Lebanon, Oregon where he helped improve the program.
Now after 20 years of coaching experience, Johnson feels at home back in Oklahoma coaching with attitude and creating a physical mindset for Racers basketball.
"I'm pretty straight forward," said Johnson. "I tell everyone; at 5'10 and a 180 pounds, there are a whole bunch of guys out there like that; so to win, you better have some sort of edge about you as a competitor that can separate you [from other players]. That's how I’ve always coached. I love my job and I love teaching kids."
Bringing a new attitude and developing the young Racers is exactly what Johnson is looking to do in his time here. He wants to develop, mature and see the athletes excel beyond what they are expected to do, he said.
One of the biggest changes that may come from the coaching change is the way the program will work to develop the youngest players in Newcastle up to the high school athletes.
Everywhere he has coached, the program has been cultivated to teach the same basketball system from second grade, up to the high school. The new coach has already begun to talk to the Newcastle All Sports Association to bring them on board with his program to help develop the younger athletes.
Johnson is a systematic coach and believes that the younger they can get the students adjusted to the new system the more it will benefit the entire Newcastle basketball program, he said. There will also be a new focus on the transition game with the players running up and down the court and dictating the pace of the games while still putting players in the best spots to succeed.
Johnson feels that the players have adapted well to the transition of a new coach and a whole new system during the summer, but there have been some challenges along the way.
"I think the transition has been fairly smooth," Johnson said. "I wish it would have happened a little sooner, so we could have gotten some more coaches established and got some more things for our younger kids.
Our Freshman up have played quite a few games this summer and got some practice times in. But coming in later and not having a staff in place hurt me a little bit because I couldn’t get my seventh or sixth graders coming in."
The emphasis will be on defense with coach Johnson and will change from more zone on the court to a more man to man defense, he said. This will keep them accountable and all eleven players are expected to be responsible for their roles on the rotation.
Johnson has an aggressive defensive mind; planning to play full court basketball and trapping constantly.
"We’re going to play full court as much as we can with the teams we can," Johnson said. "We’re going to do a lot of trapping and do a lot of jumping. We are not going to let other teams dictate the tempo on offense, and the minute that we do, someone else will be coming into the game."
He looks for the team to not rely on one or two people but to play team basketball and get everyone involved to one day reach their goal and have the mindset of a playoff team,
"The goal is to get to the state championship, and if that’s not the goal, then we are in the wrong place," said Johnson.
NEW YORK (AP) — Army graduate Mike Krzyzewski will lead a U.S. national team practice at his alma mater, and the U.S. women will train at the Naval Academy as part of an increased partnership among the NBA, USA Basketball and the Department of Defense.
The NBA and its teams will also organize job fairs and other events to support military personnel in their transition back to civilian life.
The plans were announced Friday following the completion of the NBA's board of governors meeting. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed owners at the meeting.
The U.S. men will hold an open practice at West Point on Aug. 18. The women will practice at Navy from Sept. 7-10 as both teams prepare to defend their world titles.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has joined the Oklahoma City Thunder's ownership team.
Thunder chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday.
Kaiser is president, CEO and primary owner of GBK Corp., parent of Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, which he has managed for 40 years. He also is chairman of the board and majority shareholder of BOK Financial Corp. and a major shareholder in several energy, oil and gas, mining and technology companies. He is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
In addition, through a transaction approved by the NBA Board of Governors, Bennett, Aubrey K. McClendon, William M. Cameron and Jay Scaramucci have each purchased ownership interests from G. Jeffrey Records Jr. Records remains a significant owner of the team, and MidFirst remains a major sponsor.
With impressive wins over Tecumseh on Feb. 22, the Newcastle Racer and Lady Racer basketball teams move on as district champions, headed for a tough Regional matchup on a neutral site.
Both teams will face Inola High School in the first round of the Class 4A, Area Two regional tournament Thursday at Henryetta High School. The boys tip off against the Longhorns at 8 p.m., while the girls face the Lady Longhorns at 6:30 p.m.
The Racers (14-9) cruised to a 58-49 victory over the Savages under Interim Head Coach Eddie Miller.
“The boys played hard, it was a physical game and they responded,” Miller said. “Tecumseh’s a pretty good team, they were physical, but our kids didn’t back down. They got after it and fought through adversity.”
Miller was named interim coach after head coach Wes Pulliam was suspended from coaching duties due to an incident during practice before the Racers’ game against Dale. Newcastle Public Schools officials declined comment.
The Racers relied on the efforts of Caleb Nichols throughout the game, as well as the shooting arm of Casey Freeman and the defensive acumen of Gavin Garner.
After opening their season with a 39-64 road loss against Tuttle, Wes Pulliam’s Newcastle Racers had dreams of revenge when the Tigers paid a visit to Newcastle High School Feb. 7.
Revenge was precisely what they got when the Racers pulled off a spectacular upset against the former one-loss team, trouncing the Tigers 51-43.
The Racers (12-8) have been on a 4-1 run since taking third in the Newcastle Tournament, delivering the Tigers (17-2) their second loss of the season.
Casey Freeman led a Newcastle squad that saw three players record double digits in points, notching a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds. Caleb Nichols contributed 11 points, while Issac Johnson recorded 13 points and two assists.
Tuttle’s Dalton Secrist contributed seven points, 10 rebounds and a block for the Tigers, but it was not enough to stop the Racers from their second straight win.
The loss bumped Tuttle down two spots to #9, while the Racers remain unranked in Class 4A.
Newcastle girls' head basketball coach Brett Sanders is returning to the sideline.
The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) lifted Sanders’ month-long suspension Wednesday, Feb. 12 during their February board of directors meeting in Oklahoma City, effective immediately.
Sanders was suspended following two technical fouls being called against him during a 9th grade game Jan. 18 in Tuttle, where the Lady Racers were playing against Blanchard. Video of the game obtained by the Pacer shows that during a timeout, Sanders was quietly talking to his team on the sideline when an official at half court calls two technical fouls on him, resulting in an automatic suspension.
The official claimed that Sanders came on to the floor and was yelling at him, Sanders said. No yelling is heard on the video, and Sanders did not leave the sideline.
Despite the reinstatement, the technicals and suspension were not adjusted.
"They are always going to be there," Newcastle Athletic Director Dale Berglan said. "The procedure had to be followed. When a coach is suspended, the board of directors had to reinstate him."
Newcastle Schools did not seek to have the fouls struck from Sanders' record, Berglan said.
Sanders will return for his first game with the Lady Racers Feb. 14, when Newcastle's girls face Washington in match play at Bethany High School, followed by Senior Night Feb. 17 when the Racers welcome Dale.
When asked for comment, Sanders said that he was happy at the outcome and is glad to return to coaching.
The school district has no plans to pursue penalties against the official who issued the technicals, Berglan said.
Sanders had requested an emergency meeting for reinstatement before Feb. 12, which the OSSAA board of directors denied Jan. 27.
The Lady Racers (15-6) were 6-4 without Sanders on the bench. They are currently ranked 16 in Class 4A.
On a night where Newcastle crowned a homecoming queen, there was nothing Little Axe could do to stop the high-flying Racer and Lady Racer basketball teams.
The girls throttled the Lady Indians 57-44, and the boys smashed the Indians 74-40 in front of a raucous Racer crowd Friday, Jan. 31.
Before the start of the games, Newcastle senior Sara Hamilton was crowned homecoming queen out of 11 senior candidates, which included every senior girls’ varsity basketball player and two senior team managers. Senior Ben Bobbitt was crowned king.
The Racers (10-8) were lead by Caleb Nichols, scoring 12 on four points from the field, two threes and two free throws. Casey Freeman and Cale Asperheim both had 11 points for Newcastle, and Ben Persall had 10. Asperheim led the Racers on the boards with three rebounds.
The #15 Lady Racers (13-5) played second on the night due to homecoming festivities. No stats for the Lady Racers’ win over Little Axe were available as of press time.
Both teams fell to Blanchard the following Saturday, The Racers lost 46-44, while the Lady Racers fell to the Lady Lions 54-48.
After a road game against Lindsay on Tuesday, both teams will be back at Newcastle Friday, Feb. 7 to take on the Tuttle Tigers. Friday is also Cancer Awareness Night, and donations will be accepted to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation in honor of Trey Freeman, a Newcastle ECC student who died of a genetic disorder last September.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., beginning with the Lady Racers vs. the Lady Tigers (9-8), followed by the Racers vs. the #7 Tigers (16-1).
The Racer and Lady Racer varsity basketball teams faced stiff competition at this year’s Newcastle Otho “Sweet Pea” Curtis Invitational Tournament, with both squads notching a loss.
However, both would press on to find victory, with the boys taking third with a 67-66 win over Blanchard for third place in the boys’ bracket. The girls took consolation champion with a 51-42 win over Blanchard.
In addition to beating Blanchard in the final round, both teams recorded their losses against Woodward; Lady Racers in the first round, Racers in the second.
“We played decent,” Lady Racer head coach Brett Sanders said. “I wouldn’t say we played great, I thought Miranda (Curl) had a real good game, defensively we didn’t get too much penetration.”
Curl, a senior, and senior Sara Hamilton led the Lady Racers (12-3) with 15 points. Curls shot 4-for-11 from the field, 1-for-2 from the three point line, and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
When the Newcastle Lady Racers take to the court for homecoming this Friday, they’ll be missing an important figure on the sidelines.
Instead of on the floor, head coach Brett Sanders will be up in the stands, watching as his girls take on Little Axe.
Sanders is under suspension pending a board review from an incident Jan. 18, when the Lady Racers 9th Grade team travelled to Tuttle to face Blanchard in tournament play.
During a timeout, Sanders was in the huddle with his team on the sidelines when the game official whistled him for two technical fouls, resulting in his ejection. It was his second of the season.
According to witnesses, Sanders was ejected for entering the floor and yelling at officials, although no such confrontation took place.
A copy of a video of the incident, shot by a parent and obtained by the Pacer, shows Sanders talking with his players during a time out in a quiet gym when an official standing at half court suddenly gives Sanders a technical. Sanders can be seen turning to one of his assistants but is not heard saying anything when the official gives Sanders a second technical, resulting in his ejection.
Under OSSAA rules, after a second ejection, the OSSAA Board of Directors suspends a coach or player pending a review and reinstatement.
A request for an emergency board meeting was declined by OSSAA officials on Jan. 27.
Sanders declined comment, citing his pending appeal, however he believes that eyewitness accounts and video evidence would show he is innocent.
Sanders will make his case during the next OSSAA Board of Directors meeting, Feb. 12 in Oklahoma City.
Brett Sanders met with his Lady Racer squad and their parents last week getting prepared to take over the Newcastle girls basketball program after being named head coach last week.
“I always thought Newcastle was a great community and a nice town. They’ve always had good athletes,” Sanders said this week.
Sanders, who previously coached at Siloam Springs, Ark., is not a stranger to the state of Oklahoma and isn’t the only coach in his family.
His son Chance coaches at Yukon while one of his daughters, Whitney, is the coach at Lawton Central.
Sanders’ youngest daughter, Bretlin, is a sophomore on the Oklahoma Baptist Bison basketball team.
“This is close to home. My son is in Yukon and my youngest daughter is in Shawnee and my other daughter is at Lawton. This is a pretty central location and it’s the perfect location,” Sanders said.
Sanders won his first state title in 2005 at Anadarko and claimed another gold ball at Cache in 2010.
The new Lady Racers head man is excited about the nucleus returning for the Lady racers next season.
“We have a strong group of seniors, nine of them and they’ve got to be our nucleus,” Sanders said.
“Hopefully they can take to my style of basketball. I’m probably a little different than (former) coach (Teresa) Johnston but every coach is different. They did well last year and if I can get them to accept what I’m going to do and go with it we’ll be fine.”
The Lady Racers were knocked out in the class 4A area tournament last season.
“I always have high expectations for my players and I expect them to work hard. I like to play an aggressive style of basketball both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor,” Sanders said.
“I like to play a lot of full court. I will judge my talent when I get there because I haven’t seen them play. I’ll adjust to the talent. What I like to do and what can be done is yet to be seen.”
Sanders is no stranger to success as his 2010 Cache Lady Bulldog team went undefeated on its way tot he state championship.
“It seems like we have great kids. I met with our players and their parents last week and things went very well. Everyone seems to be gung ho about it,” Sanders said.
Sanders has a career record of 515-149 with 17 state tournament appearances.
His teams made state torunament runs in 14 of 16 years after the girls game moved to five-on-five.
Along with two state championships Sanders has five state runners-up trophies.
Sanders’ wife, Robin, will be a counselor and assistant principal at Newcastle High School.