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Family Ties Bind Henryetta Basketball

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Originally Published: Dec 21, 2010 4:3 PM CDT

Wesley Coburn
Oklahoma Sports Student Mojo

Sometimes your family can drive you crazy, but it’s always good to know they’ll be around if you need them. Basketball at Henryetta High School has numerous interconnected branches, as both boys coach Jerry Ward and girls coach Kolby Johnson coach their very own children.

Ward is in his second year at Henryetta, and overall has coached for 32 years at five different schools.

“I’ve always enjoyed athletics, and once I got out of high school I pretty much knew I wanted to go into a coaching career,” Ward said.

His first stop was at his alma mater, Webbers Falls, where he led both the girls’ and boys’ teams for 16 seasons. After coaching both teams he then he coached just the girls three more years before spending a season in Sallisaw.

Then, he coached a nine-year span in Warner, followed by a season in Holdenville, before he went to Henryetta to for the top coaching spot with a boys’ squad for the first time in 14 years.

His holds an overall record of 8-22, but that looks worse on paper than in reality. Neither team has been blessed with height, and many of those losses came due to the other team’s size opening up a close game late.

The reason he took the job? “Well, I’ve been coaching for 30 years, and I thought it might be nice to coach my own family for awhile,” said Ward.

His son Grant, a sophomore forward, saw minimal playing time last year, but is now a starter and four games into this season he has a combined total of 19 points, eight rebounds and three steals.

Meanwhile another family with close ties to Henryetta Basketball is girls coach Kolby Johnson. Like coach Ward, he is also in his second year at Henryetta, where he is also the HS principal as well as the athletic director.

He graduated in 1989 from Okemah, and previously coached at Crowder, where he guided the Demonettes to the state tournament three times. His 2008-09 team fell to Preston in the Class A championship game.

He and his wife, Michelle, have six kids, Hilary graduated from HHS last year, and Heather, Blake and Hunter still attend Henryetta.

“I’ve always enjoyed sports my whole life, and basketball has always been my favorite. I enjoy working with the kids, developing their skills, and I just really enjoy it,” Johnson said.

He’s had plenty to enjoy, his Lady Knights teams have a combined record of 22-12 and this year’s team is currently ranked #7 in Class 3A.

His son Blake has been a starter since last year, and last season he had 196 points, 71 rebounds and 16 steals while going 15-28 on free throws. So far this year, in four games played he has 20 points, 26 rebounds, three steals and seven assists.

Meanwhile his stepsister Hilary had 302 points, 108 rebounds, 49 steals, 64 assists, and was 103-159 on free throws last year, while Heather compiled 173 points, 150 rebounds, 22 steals, 17 assists and went 31-56 from the charity stripe. This year Heather has 47 points, 29 rebounds, eight steals and three assists in four games

These two coaches and their kids aren’t the only ones with ties to Henryetta sports as many other players have sports-linked relatives as well.

Danielle Bear’s older brothers Robby and Bobby played football before they graduated, as did Sara Black’s brother Jimmy.

Rush Williams runs cross country and is the right fielder on the baseball team and his dad James announces Knights baseball games.

Alissa Taylor’s brother Chase is a left fielder/third baseman on the diamond and in addition to playing basketball, she’s the main pitcher on the softball team.
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