August 20, 2022

By Jeanne Tucker
Hickman Mills C-1 School District

The Ruskin High School Golden Eagles Basketball team wins again. Winning one title could be a fluke; winning two titles in a row could be difficult, but winning three Suburban Conference Divisional Championship titles in a row seals a legacy.

Even if Coach Raymond Hughes does not repeat this record within the next few years, he and his coaching staff at Ruskin High School have proven that they could produce a winning team of basketball players.

When Head Coach Hughes was asked, “Coach, did you and the players believe you could win the Suburban Conference title three times in a row?” He responded, “When we won the Conference Championship the first time for the 2019-20 basketball season, we thought we had a good chance of winning the Missouri State Championship. Those guys set the culture and the standard for what we were going for.”

Even in the midst of the pandemic, the Ruskin Eagles soared. These amazing student-athletes were performing at their highest potential.

The next year they felt they could be the Suburban Conference Champions again. In the off season, the athletes worked hard and did all they had to do. Coach Hughes said, “Even though, we started the season off with a 1 win and 9 losses, our leaders remained resilient through tough times.”

One of Ruskin’s key players had a brother who contracted COVID-19. He could not play because he had close contact with his brother. Then there was another student who was out several games because of academics. Overall, they had three of their players out for multiple games in December of that year.

The Ruskin Eagles had a rough start but the student-athletes hung in there and did what they had to do to earn a second conference co-championship 20-21 with a 9-3 conference record.

Fast forward to this year, 2021-22. They had high aspirations. According to Coach Hughes, “We had a good core of players who were seniors and there was only one junior in the top nine. We lost to Smithville High School. Then Platte County had a lead on Ruskin but the Eagles beat them once at home and we had to beat them on their home court to earn a tie for the Conference lead.”

Ruskin had to win their last four games to hold the Suburban Conference Championship title. The players performed to their highest potential. They won their last five games.

Platte County had only lost one conference game which put them in place to win the Suburban Championship.

If Platte County had continued their winning streak, they would have won the 2022 Suburban Conference straight out. The divisional championship would come down to one game.

The Ruskin Golden Eagle defeated Platte County in overtime to earn a chance at the crown.

The Eagles beat the Grandview Bulldogs in the season finale. Their performance clinched the Suburban Co-Conference Championship for the Ruskin Eagles.

The graduating seniors on the Ruskin Eagles basketball team are as follows: Iryan Allen, Donald Bangham, Jr., DeAngelo Woods, William Sanders, Zae’on Harvey, London Greer, Bryce Johnson and Robert Gant.

The lone junior starter was George Pledger.

Coach Raymond Hughes was asked, “Coach since most of your lineup consisted of graduating seniors, do you think there is a possibility that the Ruskin Eagles can win the Suburban Conference Championship and make it four in a row next year?”

He responded, “We have a good JV (junior varsity) group of athletes here at Ruskin High School. We have built a program. A few of those kids set the standard that they are going to play together and play unselfishly. They realize that they are playing for something bigger than themselves.”

“The heart of all of this started during the 2018-19 basketball season. At that time, Ruskin only won 10 games. However, they were able to win their first playoff game. Those guys put their heart into it. They played together and set the tone for the kind of culture we wanted to have here at Ruskin High School,” said Coach Hughes.

The next year 2019-20, the Eagles were District Champions. All of this started with these student-athletes. They got better and better. The seniors who were there during that season are now graduating in 2021-22. They have been carrying themselves like Champions and doing the things necessary to win championships.

The better a basketball team performs during the year will help them to be ranked in the district rankings. This year 2021-22, the Ruskin Eagles were ranked #1 going into the district Tournament.

The Ruskin High School Golden Eagles won the Suburban Conference Championship Title three years in a row.

Way to Go Eagles!
The athletic director, Coach Michael Weiler commented, “Ruskin is very proud of the efforts and the success of our team these past 3 years. A solid winning foundation is in place. We are now looking forward to continued success in the future.”

Ruskin’s Coach Adam Sweeney commented, “Coach Hughes is a great coach. He spent a tremendous amount of time enhancing the basketball program here at Ruskin. He is an Inspirational guy and he even inspires me.”

Winning the Suburban Conference Championship back-to-back-to-back added an amazing chapter to the life of basketball at Ruskin High School and in Kansas City, Missouri.

Head Coach Raymond Hughes and the entire Basketball Coaching staff at Ruskin High School in Kansas City, Missouri, are to be commended for doing a fantastic job.