Varsity Basketball

Reaching state tourney part of Pratt rebound

When David Swank was named the boys basketball coach at Pratt for this season, the Greenbacks automatically became a Class 4A contender.

Not only is Swank a successful coach — in his last three seasons at Wichita Trinity, the Knights were 65-8 and won the 2008 Class 3A title — but it certainly didn't hurt that his sons, Matt and Micah, transferred with him.

The prospect of such an infusion of talent thrilled the Pratt players, whose past four seasons consisted of 14 total wins, including 10 in 2008-09.

"When we knew (Swank) was bringing his two sons, we weren't concerned, we were excited because we knew they were really good," Pratt senior Skylar Angood said.

The Swanks lived up to expectations — the Greenbacks are the No. 1 seed in this week's Class 4A tournament with a 21-2 record. It's Pratt's first trip to state since 1992.

Pratt's losses are to Dodge City, which is in the 6A tournament, and Nickerson, in the 4A tourney.

The situation could have been worse. Matt, a junior, and Micah, a sophomore, might have been given the cold shoulder as they took playing time from established players

That was never the case.

"I probably should have been feeling that," said Matt Swank, who is a versatile 6-foot-2 guard averaging 15.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.9 steals. "But I didn't feel it at all.... I was more worried about living up to expectations."

Micah Swank (6-foot) runs the point and averages 14.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.8 steals.

Having his two sons on the team helped David Swank install his system.

"They know how I do things, and that was a huge help in getting things established, to raise the bar of expectations," Swank said."... They helped raise expectations in terms of how we do things in practice, how hard we play."

Swank certainly played a key role, as well. He started coaching in the mid-1980s and has had stints at Junction City and Douglass. While he stopped coaching for eight years while an administrator at Trinity, he still ran his Triple Threat basketball camps that he started when his boys were young.

Swank, his sons and his wife, Molly, run the camps together.

"I just love the teaching," Swank said. "I can teach a kindergartner how to shoot a layup... I get on my hands and knees."

While the Swanks were key to Pratt's turnaround, it didn't hurt that the Greenbacks had a solid core of seniors, including Angood, Luke Southard, Brad Richardson and Brady Batman.

"My seniors have really improved their basketball IQ," Swank said. "We talk a lot about that. The senior class has improved tremendously from June until February."

But Swank is also quick to give credit to former coach David White.

"He had a lot to do with this. He gave them some confidence and they started to believe that they could win," Swank said.