STERLING — Randy Stange has been given the keys to rebuilding a Sterling College men’s basketball program that won two games last year and 17 in the last three seasons.
Stange was hired as the head coach of Sterling College on April 1, 2022, and the former Hutchinson Community basketball champion and Blue Dragons athletic director has guided the Sterling College Warriors to a 14-11 record in 2022-23, including a 96-53 win Wednesday night at Friends University in Wichita.
Stange, a Nickerson native who served as HCC men’s basketball coach for three seasons and served 18 years as athletic director, returned to coaching after serving as athletic director at Johnson County Community College from 2017-2022 and athletic director for Springfield, Mo. , school district from 2015-2017.
Stange said the opportunity to coach at Sterling College was too good to pass up.
“I’ve had some experience with the area coming from the area,” Stange said. “I’ve always been a fan of Sterling College. Being a fan of the basketball program was a plus.
“Sterling College is just a solid school. It stands for the right things. From the instructors to the school president (Scott Rich) to the athletic director (Justin Morris), it’s a fantastic school. I hope I can contribute.”
Stange said the key to winning is making players believe they can be winners.
“We’ve had some success this season, but we can lose to anyone if we don’t play well,” said Stange. “This year has been a story of two teams. We received a great commitment from the boys. It was fun. The boys came back strong and they came back healthy.”
One of Sterling’s returning players, Lucas Briar, said Stange has already made a big difference. Briar is a 6-foot-4 redshirt senior from Sterling, who was injured during the first game last season.
“When we do the little things right, we play well,” said Briar. “Being accountable is huge to our success this year. Last year we went to games fearing to play. He revitalized us. We have more of a winning culture this year.
Eric Smith, a sophomore 6-foot guard at Shawnee Mission South High School, said bringing players from winning programs helped the team succeed. Smith played his freshman season at Hutchinson Community College. He had known Stange from the five years that Stange was CEO at Johnson County CC.
“It was our neighbor in Overland Park before I moved here,” Smith said. “He brought a lot of older players to Sterling. It was a big culture shift. We know what to expect from the coach. I like it here in the community. People love to come to games. This is what coach Stange has brought to the community.”
Morris said Stange brought a culture of victory to the school and community.
“This is an important part of the mission at Sterling College,” Morris said. “Being a Christian college is important to us. He’s been successful wherever he’s been. It is connected to many people. It has a good start. He did a really great job of bringing those guys together.
Sterling College hosts Kansas Wesleyan University at Salina Saturday night seniors at Lonnie Kruse Court at Sterling’s Gleason Center. The Warriors have a 10-9 record in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“Our top-to-bottom league is one of the most competitive leagues in the country,” said Stange, whose team lost to the Coyotes 81-54 Dec. 13 in Salina. “Kansas Wesleyan is a tough match for us. They are really well trained. Players one to 12 can really play.
Sterling College’s final two games of the regular season are on the road at Avila University (Kansas City, Mo.) on February 15 and at Oklahoma Wesleyan University (Bartlesville) on February 18.