Photo by Eric Frizell Ruskin’s boys basketball team

March 11, 2023

By Jeanne Tucker
Hickman Mills C-1 School District

Now, let the drums roll! The Ruskin Eagles boys basketball team won the Greater Kansas City Suburban District (Blue Division) Championship Title.

The Eagles were holding the conference championship title. They earned this title three years in a row. They maintained the championship trophy. Then just a few days ago, they excelled and won the conference championship, again. Now they are “Four-Peat.”

The district playoff started immediately after that conference win. The Eagles played three games. They were in the finals at the district playoffs. On Monday night, March 6, they won the basketball game against Belton High School. Belton was ranked as the #1 seed. Ruskin started the district playoff as a #6 seed.

“Belton was our toughest opponent,” said Ruskin Head Coach, Marcus Whitney.

This win sealed the Suburban District Championship for Ruskin High School. The Eagles are really on track and they’re ready for the next step. That is, competing at the Missouri State Championship Playoff. The competition starts this Friday night. The Ruskin Eagles will be playing the Pembroke Hill Raiders of Kansas City, in Sedalia, MO.

An obvious question is, “How did the Ruskin High School Eagles actually advance to be able to compete for such a prestigious title?” Ruskin’s Head Coach, Marcus Whitney commented, “All of the athletes and all of the coaches sent their ‘Minds to Win.’ Winning each game is a big deal,” said Coach Whitney.

The Ruskin Eagles set high expectations.

“Going into the games, the guys were mentally and physically prepared. They knew they were playing in the district competition as a finalist, and it was a big stage for them. They were humble. All of the players, including the guys who were sitting on the benches, deserve the same recognition. They are all a part of the team and they are to be celebrated and included in the victory celebrations. In addition, all of the Ruskin Eagle coaches play a key role in making sure the team is ready and prepared for the road ahead. They help the players to understand that they, have to work to have success,” said Coach Whitney.

The district championship win caused the Ruskin boys basketball team to receive the distinction of being in an elite class. That is, being in the top eight high schools in their class, in the state of Missouri.

The Eagles are ready to accept the challenge of winning all three games, which is required in order for them to receive the honor of being the Missouri high school boys basketball state championship for their division.

These Ruskin High School student-athletes persevere and they are intentional. Coach Whitney said, “These guys push through their home life situations and they keep their grades up. They believe they can win,” commented Coach Whitney.

The Eagles set their goals high. Head Coach Whitney, Assistant Coach Deron Hill and all of the Ruskin coaching staff made commitments to be available whenever the players needed them. The coaches come in as early as 5 a.m. and leave after 9 p.m.

“These coaches are dedicated. They go beyond and do the extra work that is necessary. They never hesitate. If the kids want to stay late, the coaches stay. There are also many long hours on Saturdays,” commented Coach Whitney.

Whenever any of the athletes on the Ruskin Eagles boys basketball team contacts the coaches on any given day including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, they will meet them. They go to shoot the ball and run other plays for two to three hours or longer.

The newly renovated Ruskin gymnasium was reopened just in time for this basketball season. These student-athletes utilize it to practice for hours after school on their skills, techniques and everything the coaches are teaching them. They are disciplined as they watch film after film.

On top of all of this, these Eagles boys basketball team players and the entire coaching staff are having fun while they are soaring high. They are enjoying the journey.

Congratulations again to Head Coach Marcus Whitney and all of the Ruskin High School Coaches.

Ruskin Eagles Athletic Director, Michael Weiler, mentioned how proud the school is of the boys basketball team and wished them well in their pursuit for the Missouri State Championship Title. Ruskin’s principal, Dr. Ernest Fields is also very proud of these student-athletes.