With the departure of both the boys and girls head basketball coaches, Jay athletics were in a jam for the 2019-2020 season.
But with solid hires in both roles, the Bulldogs looks to be in good shape. Jay Fleming was hired on the boys side and Kayla Denton was hired to take over the Lady Bulldogs.
The Boys Team
Miguel Ortiz had been the head coach at Jay for a year, but decided to move to Colcord.
Jay Fleming, from Ketchum, Oklahoma was the fit Jay was looking for.
For Fleming, it was a great opportunity to get back into his love of basketball coaching. Fleming, who had refereed for four years, had previously been a coach at Chelsea for four years.
Fleming graduated from Ketchum high school in 1989, attended NEO, going on to NSU, then completing his Masters at South Nazarene.
He was excited about coming to coach the Bulldogs, because of the favorable reputation the team has, plus he has refereed some Bulldogs games and his experience matched the street chatter about Jay.
Fleming has already reviewed game tape, met some returning players and started assembling a game plan.
“Individuals will need to be competitive as everyone will begin with a clean slate,” but Fleming always came back to defense. “Defense will be key, but it will be the biggest challenge... I like that we have a couple of big kids and that most every athlete participates in all three sports [at Jay]."
Fleming plans on focusing transition baskets because he believes that they will help win games.
“Running the floor is exhilarating, but there are times when you have to pull up to set up," said Fleming.
As a coach, Fleming wants his players to “Argue what and when you need to argue, not the whole game.”
Along with his thoughts on referees, he says discipline will be firm, but fair and that expectations are that each player will be accountable.
Fleming is anxious to get practice started as soon as it is permissible.
The Girls Team
It is official, Kayla Denton will be taking the reins as the girl Bulldogs new coach, replacing departing girls’ Coach Terry Sweeney.
Sweeney was not displeased when he heard who would be filling his shoes.
“She cares about her team and she’s coming to good people. I’m happy to hear she’s coming," said Sweeney.
Denton is just as happy to be coming to Jay. Denton comes to Jay after spending two years at 2A Panama with a first year 13 and 13 record, culminating the first year as district champions. In her second year, Denton and her team went 10-15, but were beat out by the team who became the state champions in the spring of 2019.
Denton graduated from Bacone College, in Muskogee, with a degree in Health and Physical Education where she played basketball all four years.
Before Panama, she was head coach at Stilwell, earning district champion the second year, then making it through regional and into the area tournament. While at Stilwell, Denton scrimmaged with Jay and picked up an appreciation for the Bulldogs.
At Jay, besides coaching the girls basketball Bulldogs, she will be assistant cross country and maybe sponsor FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), teaching humanities, medieval history and high school PE.
Denton comes from a big family with six kids, with four who are adopted.
Concerning the team, Denton appreciates their cohesiveness and is looking forward to seeing the Lady Bulldogs team in action.
“They have a togetherness; as a coach you can get a vibe,” said Denton. “At this age, they are sponges and can be taught, so it’s pretty rewarding to see the kids ‘get it’ and grow.”
Denton is confident in her team and plans to work on basics like passing, protecting the ball and executing plays to get the ball in the hoop.
“I think God led me here, I was offered another position, but I felt here is where I needed to be," said Denton “I love basketball, but I really like to build relationships with the kids.”