Double-duty Ruble has single focus now

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C

Coach Mike Ruble has led the girls basketball program at Bradshaw Christian to five section championships in six seasons, impressive for a high school program that has yet to celebrate its ninth birthday.

He's also a rarity in a sport that has required a year-round commitment – he coaches both the girls and boys teams at the south Sacramento private school of 350 students.

His girls team, 27-2 and led by seniors Ashlee Jones, Terisha Simmons and Briana Barnes, are the No. 2 seed in the CIF Northern California Division IV field and have a first-round bye. The Pride will host the winner of tonight's Colfax-Marin Catholic of Kentfield game in its new gym Saturday.

During Ruble's seven seasons coaching the girls, they have won 164 games and five Sac-Joaquin section titles – four in Division V (2008-2011) and this season in Division IV.

In his eight seasons coaching the boys, Ruble's teams are 125-98, including a D-V section title in 2009 and a runner-up finish in 2011.

He is the only coach in section history to win girls and boys titles in the same season.

This year's boys team isn't in the NorCal field after being eliminated in the second round of the D-V section playoffs by eventual repeat champion Capital Christian.

Bear River girls coach Jeff Bickmore, who played basketball two seasons after Ruble at Vanguard University in Southern California and whose team lost 50-40 to the Pride in the D-IV section championship Saturday at Sleep Train Arena, marvels at Ruble's energy.

"I've heard of guys doing a junior varsity and a varsity team at the same time, but never two varsity teams," Bickmore said. "I don't know how he does it. He's got to have good assistants, but even so, it's pretty incredible."

The rare double may soon end, though.

"I'm a high-energy guy, and success gives you energy," Ruble said. "But it's hard. Our program is growing. It's not fair to the girls and the boys. To play at a high level, they need attention. … We'll see. Every year we re-evaluate."

On top of his coaching double-duty, Ruble also is the athletic director, overseeing 46 middle school and high school athletic teams.

Headed to Utah State – Lynette Johnson, who will lead Kennedy against visiting Berkeley in a NorCal Division I girls first-round game, will play next season for Utah State.

The highly recruited Johnson says she gets asked all the time, "Why Utah State?"

"I've been fortunate to live in one of the most diverse places in the country," Johnson, an African American, said of Sacramento. "I could have gone to more popular schools, but I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a little. Utah State will be a culture change, but in a good way."

Johnson plans to major in psychology and is interested in counseling children. She's already gotten a taste by working as a volunteer with second-graders at Mark Hopkins Elementary, the Meadowview school slated for closure because of declining enrollment.

"I'd like to help children through their problems," Johnson said. "They really need our help and support because their future is going to shape our future."

Bad news for Titans – As suspected, Isaiah Ellis, Antelope's 6-foot-7 inside force, has a fractured foot and will be in a cast for four to six weeks.

"Not good news, but I've got guys that will step up again, just like they did Saturday," said Antelope coach Rob Richards, whose team beat Grant 70-63 to win its second consecutive D-II section title despite the late first-half loss of its senior leader.

No. 2 Antelope has a first-round bye and will play its first game at home Saturday against tonight's Montgomery of Santa Rosa-St. Francis of Mountain View winner.

Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.

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