Sometimes, life is full of interesting coincidences. In 2005, Jason Stucky was assisting at Andover High when the Trojans dropped an overtime stunner at Circle.
Fast forward to 2012: Stucky now finds himself as Circle’s new coach after a two-year absence from basketball. He resigned as head coach at Andover after a complaint that tryouts were tainted because Stucky sought loans from some parents, creating a conflict of interest. A Butler County judge later dismissed the lawsuit.
“(Circle) is probably the only school that had the capability of attracting me back to basketball,” Stucky said.
Stucky inherits a team that failed to win a game in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV play last year and won 4 of 21 games.
“The record is misleading, because they were (competitive) in a lot of games,” Stucky said.
One of the victories was a 32-31 triumph over Trinity Academy in El Dorado’s Bluestem Classic, on a three-pointer by big man Adam Ronnebaum.
Ronnebaum has graduated, but the Thunderbirds still will have a big presence in the middle with 6-foot-5 senior Stewart Dennison, who will have a major role in Stucky’s offense.
“We’ll use him in the high-low,” Stucky said of Dennison.
Circle also returns 6-2 senior Seth Blaha and 6-2 junior Paul Richard, whose athleticism has impressed Stucky, who was hired late.
“We’ve got a good core group,” he said. “And, we have a lot of guys to fill in.”
After years in which Circle could rely upon future NCAA Division I talents such as Becca Mills and Val Siemens, no such standout is there this year.
“We’re definitely looking for everyone to pitch in,” coach Brian Henry said.
Circle (9-12) returns six letterwinners from last year’s squad, but senior guard Jacy Gibbs is the top returning scorer at 4.1 points.
Without a true scoring threat, Henry said the Thunderbirds will have to rely on excelling at other facets of the game.
“We’re a little bit more athletic and quicker,” he said. “We’ll be looking to pressure the ball on defense.”
Henry said he has seen the team coming together in early practices.
“The girls are really coming together,” he said. “Teamwork has been a big thing for us. We’re young, hungry and aggressive.”
Henry said he’s hoping that the cohesiveness will pay off on the court.
“We have a lot of girls that love playing together and will work hard,” he said.
And that will come in handy once the Thunderbirds hit Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division IV games, what with the likes of perennial powerhouses such as McPherson, Collegiate, Wellington and Andale.
“There aren’t a lot of easy games on the schedule,” Henry said.