Barnett enjoys return to court

Robert Smith
Coach Ernie Barnett says the Lady Huskies basketball team needs to run to be effective this season. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

Bowring rancher Ernie Barnett is thrilled to be back in the gym on a regular basis as the varsity girls basketball coach for the Pawhuska Lady Huskies.

“I owe a lot to the administration and the school board,” says Barnett, who will be 62 next month. He helped coach girls basketball at Pawhuska in the late 1980s and early 1990s, working with Dale Christenson. Barnett also played basketball at Pawhuska High School, where he graduated in 1975.

“I’ve been out of the game for 20 years, as far as high school coaching,” Barnett said. He noted that some of his players from more than two decades ago say they think he has mellowed with time, but the thing that stands out for him is how much fun he’s having. “I’m having an absolute blast.”

The Lady Huskies won their first game of the season versus Wesleyan Christian, by a score of 51-28. Three evenings later, they dropped a road game to Pawnee, 34-26.

Barnett said his 2018-19 team includes young women who ran relays during track season and he anticipates needing to take advantage of their quickness.

“We’ve got to run,” Barnett said. He also emphasized the need to have consistent play from his second five, so the overall effort doesn’t suffer when he’s got to rotate people in and out of play.

“I don’t know that we’ve got a great player,” Barnett added, but he said Pawhuska has a number of good players. He said that he intends to keep at least three starters on the floor at all times, but rotate people to try and stay as fresh as possible.

To start the season, Barnett said he was dressing out 14 players — three seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen. He was starting two seniors, two juniors and a freshman.