Glencoe High had so much luck with a local product last time, it has gone back to the well.

The Panthers’ new boys basketball coach is Jason Reece, a 1989 Ripley graduate who spent the last two years coaching basketball and baseball while he was middle school principal in Hinton.

Prior to that, Reece coached boys basketball at Perkins-Tryon and spent five years with baseball, basketball and football in Prue.

Reece replaces Pawnee product Talby Justus, who went 76-16 in three years with the Panthers. He led them to their first state title in 2006 and a runner-up finish last fall. He is now the coach at Bray-Doyle.

Reece, who considers Justus a friend, is married to another Ripley graduate, Suzanne, who is a second-grade teacher in Perkins. Suzanne and their sons Trey, 4, and Cade, 2, have remained in Perkins the last two years while Reece spent the week living in a travel trailer in Hinton and came home on weekends.

That is what led to his taking a teaching and coaching job in Glencoe, which is a step back from his pursuit of a career in administration.

“The other day I came home from work and I played with the kids and did some things around the house for my wife,” Reece said. “I sat down with Trey in the evening and out of the blue, he looked at me and said, ‘Daddy, I had fun tonight. We couldn’t do this when you were at Hinton.’

“That more than anything showed me that I’ve made the right decision to come back home and not be away from my family for long periods of time. It’s shown me that maybe chasing the elusive rabbit of a state championship is not everything in life.”

Of course, Reece is going to do everything he can to help Glencoe win another trophy.

“Talby ran a great program at Glencoe and his father (Harley) had success,” Reece said. “I have respect for what they did for Glencoe. I really appreciate it because I’m finding enough kids who know how to play. It’s just a matter of them gaining experience in a situation with the scoreboard is on.”

Reece said he his thrilled to be back in this area and to have the opportunity to coach in the Cimarron Valley Conference.

In fact, he calls Coyle coach Josh Sumrall and Dale softball coach Andy Powell — who was the baseball coach at Carney until this summer — his best friends. He also said he is honored to have the opportunity to again coach in an area that has featured four specific coaches.

“I know on the boys’ side, (Frontier) coach (Bob) Weckstein and (Ripley) coach (Doug) Scott both changed the way the game is played around here,” Reece said. “(Recently retired Cushing) coach (Pat) Elder and (P-T) coach (Jerry) Burnett did the same thing with the girls. In addition to all their state championships and their wins and success, that speaks more to their ability than what they meant to basketball in this area. Anytime someone can change the game in those ways, it’s amazing to me.”

Chances are the game played by the Panthers will change with Reece at the helm. Justus used a slow-down style that valued defense and shot selection.

It was effective for GHS, but all five starters from last year’s squad graduated.

“My goal is to carry on a winning tradition and not be in a situation where we’re in a down cycle,” Reece said.

Glencoe athletic director Rick Bales, who has seen the ups and downs of the program, said he has known Reece a long time.

“I refereed some of his games when he played ball,” Bales said. “I’ve coached against him. I tried to hire him several years ago and the teaching deal just didn’t work out right. He’s a hard worker and a good company man.”

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