By Max Terrell
For the Newcastle Pacer
The Newcastle Racers basketball team began the season with a three game stretch against some of the toughest opponents in the state, including the fourth ranked team in 6-A, Booker T. Washington.
Since the early challenge met head on by the Racers, the team has won their last two games outscoring opponents by 20 points in each game defeating the Bethany Bronchos 71-50 and the Little Axe Indians 83-61.
Both games saw similar starts for the Racers with both games going back and forth in the first half, with Newcastle never establishing a dominant lead on either of their opponents until the third quarter.
Newcastle found themselves down early in both contests with turnovers playing a key role during the games. Against Bethany, the Racers ended the game with 13 turnovers with several of those giveaways coming in the first quarter of play.
Then, during their contest with Little Axe, the Racers finished the game with 15 turnovers. As both contests went on, the ball security improved for the Racer’s, as well as their scoring, which gave them a more fundamentally sound second halfs.
Caleb Nichols led the team in scoring during both games totaling 23 points during the game against Bethany and then 18 points against Little Axe. Gavin Garner was another player who saw success especially during the game against Little Axe, where he grabbed seven rebounds and scored 14 points.
Garner also made an impact defensively with three blocks against the Indians and Glenn Cerny contributed two blocks to the teams total during the game helping keep their double-digit lead.
During both games, the Racers may have tried to do too much or play too fast, but players seem optimistic that they will be able to fix their turnover problems as the season continues.
“I think it has all been us trying to play just a little too fast,” said Nichols. “It is a new system so you are going to have turnovers, especially when it is a fast system like the one we play. When we played in the Millwood tournament, we had way too many turnovers, but we are getting better with the turnovers.”
Head coach of the Racers, Kevin Johnson has put a heavy focus on film and fundamentals since coming to Newcastle, and the players will look to not only use their time wisely in the film room, but will look for the effort plays as well.
“Film is very important,” said Nichols. “Film does not lie just like stats do not lie, so film is always crucial. Effort is also crucial for us. Playing well comes with effort, and you need effort in basketball. The more effort you give the better you are probably going to play.”
The Racers looked to cut down on the turnovers at their next match up against the Blanchard Lions on December 16 at Blanchard.
By Max Terrell
For The Newcastle Pacer
The Lady Racers basketball team has found themselves still undefeated after playing in two games that played out completely different from one another, with the Lady Racers defeating the Bethany Bronchos 59-51 and the Little Axe Indians 103-32.
During the game against Bethany the Lady Racers started the game off scoring fast and building a double-digit lead quickly in the first quarter.
Katie Mayo lead the team in scoring for the game with 19 points and Caitlynne Weatherly came second in scoring on the night with 14 points.
Aaliyah Endsley also found herself on the scoreboard by driving through any open lanes the defense was giving the Lady Racers.
Many of the points during the game with the Bronchos came from inside especially to Mayo, who used her post moves to score effectively.
Before their first game at home, the Lady Racers head coach Brett Sanders talked about how the team needed to not let teams back into games, but this particular night it would happen again.
After building the double-digit lead, the Lady Racers began committing turnovers and fouls, which allowed the Bronchos several extra possessions, and they took advantage, cutting into the Newcastle lead.
Near the end of the game, the Lady Racers would pull away and secure the 8-point win during their home opener.
During the next game, the Lady Racers would not let their opponent have the opportunity to cut into the lead putting up 103 points in Little Axe. The 71-point win came off a night where several players scored high numbers.
Again Mayo scored from inside the paint accounting for 28 of the teams triple digit points. Endsley and Weatherly also had back-to-back nights putting up impressive scoring numbers again with both players scoring 16 points.
The defense also played their part in the huge victory only allowing 32 points to be scored, the lowest total they have allowed this season.
While the win comes against a team who is in the loss column, nothing can be taken away when a team puts up over a hundred points.
The Lady Racers will move from the dominant win over the Indians and looked towards their December 16 match up on the road against rival Blanchard Lions.
Bridge Creek fell to Tuttle on Saturday, 79-46, even with Christian Longan scoring 19 points.Longan led the charge for Bridge Creek Bobcats Varsity’s offense, scoring 19 points, with nine points during the second period.
Riley Cowan sank four three-pointers and scored 14 points total. Also contributing for Bridge Creek were Jimmy Wynne (4 points, 5 rebounds), Luke Garrett (4 points, 1 rebound), AJ Jefferys (3 points, 2 rebounds) and Johnny Ojeda (2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal).
Bridge Creek Bobcats Varsity finished the game with 20 rebounds (six offensive/14 defensive) and one steal.
By Max Terrell
For The Newcastle Pacer
The Racers basketball team took on the challenge of facing some of the stiffest competition in the state, playing through three games during the three-day long tournament in which they faced top ten competition from across the state.
The first game may have been the most telling and most impressive performance for the Racers even in the defeat against 6-A opponent Booker T. Washington. The Racers played a competitive game against the fourth ranked 6-A squad in which they fell 60-50.
While the Racers took some solace in the fact that they were able to keep up with the high powered offence of Booker T. Washington, the turnovers effectively kept Newcastle from being able to win the close game.
“The boys all played hard and did not lack any effort,” said head coach Johnson. “However, 29 turnovers will get you beat most nights against anyone.”
Johnson gave credit to his players for how hard they fought during the game and also talked about the ability that Booker T. Washington had during the game.
“Caleb Nichols and Isaac Johnson both had good performances that night,” Johnson said. “Nichols scored 18 and Isaac had 10. Booker T. was a quick team overall. They were well coached.”
After the hard fought loss, the Racers then split their final two games defeating Blackwell 67-55 and then lost to Western Heights 74-60.
Offensively, the team scored well with Nichols scoring with the ball consistently every night totaling 60 points over the three-game span. Caleb Asperheim also contributed to the Racers high scoring totals with 33 points. He also aided the Racers competitive efforts recording several key rebounds.
The Racers hope that the tournament has prepared them for the new basketball season playing some of the best competition they will see all year.
By Max Terrell
For The Newcastle Pacer
It can be easy to forget how much of an impact sports can have on children, but this Christmas the Newcastle All Sports Association will be hosting its second Annual Christmas Classic Basketball Tournament.
On December 19-21, the tournament and toy drive looks to help children who may not receive a gift this Christmas by donating all toys and funds to the St. Jude’s Foundation. The tournament is open to all divisions, first grade through eighth grade for both boys and girl teams.
Entry into the tournament is $200 per team, but teams that will match the number on their roster with the same number of unopened toys as a donation will be able to join the tournament for $100.
NASA representative Cameron Corbin understands how important an event like this can be, not just for the children who need a Christmas, but also for cancer research.
Events like this are what help fund almost all of St. Jude’s Christmas’ drives, especially given that it costs St. Jude almost $2 million a day to operate. Christmas gifts would not be possible without drives such as these, she said
“It is a very important Tournament,” said Corbin. “I hope we can continue to grow the tournament and expound upon it. This year if everything goes well, we can have over 600 toys donated to St. Jude’s and more money raised for cancer research.”
Corbin hopes that the tournament becomes big enough to reach out to other communities and even has hopes of contacting the Jimmy V Foundation at some point in the future.
In the next year it is estimated that 20,000 Oklahomans will be diagnosed with cancer with almost 8,000 estimated to die every year.
If anyone wants to register or has questions about the tournament they can contact Cameron Corbin at 405-406-1621.
By Max Terrell
For The Newcastle Pacer
The Newcastle Lady Racer basketball team has lofty goals for themselves coming into this season with their eye set not only on the state tournament, but the state title in 2015.
They started off the season exactly how any team hopes to look, dominating their first tournament of the season and doing it in an impressive fashion, winning the first game of the tournament 93-20.
Aaliyah Endsley took home the MVP award for the tournament after racking up the points and assists during the entire tournament.
Offensively the team will look to run a motion offense again this year. Head coach Brett Sanders said that 90 percent of the time on the court will be running some type of motion offense during the course of a game.
While there is a lot of youth on the young Racers team, Sanders and his players are keeping their expectations high for the year.
“We are a young team, and we are trying to find our existence on the court and get better,” said Sanders. “First off, they want to win the conference and secondly, they do not just want to make the state tournament, but they want to win the whole thing.”
The bench will be a determining factor as to how successful the team will be. During the tournament, the Lady Racers played several young players off the bench, and Sanders says that currently there is not a definite rotation yet.
“We have a lot of youth coming off the bench,” Sanders said. “We have good girls coming off the bench, but it will be a learning process all season long for us.”
The team has a lot of athleticism, but is more of a skilled team, he said. While they can keep up with most girls, they can still beat teams with more strength, because of how skilled the athletes are. While skill players are fundamental to a team, Sanders is most pleased with the willpower his team has shown.
“Our will to win will be our biggest strength this year,” he said. “I also think that our time we have spent in the gym will be another huge strength for us and we are strong fundamentally.”
The girls have already had to rely on their skills and determination early this year during the tournament having to win a couple of tight games.
While Sanders recognizes his teams will to win and drive, he also knows that the girls have to close out games, especially late in the season when it counts the most.
“We have to have that killer instinct,” Sanders said. “The second game we played some really good athletes, and we had a big lead, but we got complacent and let them back into the game. I did not like that part of our game.”
By Max Terrell
For the Newcastle Pacer
There is a sense of renewal around the Newcastle Racer’s basketball program.
In the preparation of a new season, there will be new players, athletes adjusting from the move of football to basketball, and a new head coach in Kevin Johnson.
Johnson has brought with him a new system to the basketball team but also a change in attitude and atmosphere, and so far Johnson is already making an impact with his players.
“I think coach Johnson is great,” guard Colby Nichols said. “There are very many ways to play basketball and run plays, and I like what he brings to the team. Personally I think I fit his system very well.”
As it gets closer to the start of the season, there has been no break for football players who are making the transition back to basketball as practices have intensified in the recent weeks for the Racers.
“We have just received our football kids, and the intensity level has raised for our players,” Johnson said. “It is good for our players because the competition has increased between everyone, and we have had some pretty energetic practices up to this point."
The offense will look to utilize the team’s speed and athleticism to score, and Johnson feels that so far the athletes have adapted well to the new system. While there are skill players on the team, as a whole, the Racers will look to run up and down the court and allow their athletes to make plays, Johnson said.
The offense will also focus on the fast break being a pivotal part in the teams’ scoring endeavors. If the team has to hang their hat on any one aspect of its game, it will be how well they run the fast break, said Johnson.
The players and Johnson feel that one of the biggest strengths of this team may not be the play on the court, but the chemistry the entire team has.
While ability is always important, chemistry can take teams farther than otherwise thought.
“I think our biggest strength is our chemistry,” said Ben Persall. “We are always with each other outside of school, eating together and we all trust each other on the court.”
While the players, some who have been playing together for years, are used to this type of chemistry together, for Johnson, this is a new experience.
“That kind of chemistry is unique for me,” said Johnson. “We won’t have to worry about who has 20 or five or ten. Obviously every player wants to do well individually, but I do not think that will be a big dilemma for us as a team. I’ve had good teams where that kind of selfish play hurt the team. Chemistry is crucial to a team, especially when things are not going your way.”
While the players have high expectations for the upcoming season, with Nichols going as far as to say that the Racers not making the state tournament would be a disappointment; they will have a tough test Thursday night against Booker T. Washington. The game will be a tough test against one of the best teams in the state, but Persall says the game will be a chance to see how good the Racers are.
“Our kids have a common theme here and that is one game at a time,” said Johnson. “We open up with Booker T. Washington Thursday and they are the number four team in 6-A so we have our hands full, but we are going to go play, and we expect to win. Whoever we play, that will be the expectation for us every time.”
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.