High school girls basketball: Paul Bass leaves short retirement to take over as Newcastle head coach
It wasn’t but four months ago, Paul Bass’ cellphone was filling up with text messages from former players and coaches reacting to the news of his retirement.
On Monday, he received more messages as Newcastle announced the hiring of Bass as the new head girls basketball coach.
The retirement that only stretched over a normal summer break, made his daughter laugh.
“I said, ‘Dad you couldn’t even stay away two months?’” Mustang coach Katie Bass jokingly said after learning her father took the Newcastle job.
Returning to the court, at least for this season, wasn’t a consideration for Bass after he announced his retirement in March after spending 25 years at Edmond Santa Fe High School. But when he learned Newcastle had an opening, he jumped at the opportunity.
His reasoning was simple.
For years, Bass led Edmond Santa Fe in the Otho “Sweet Pea” Curtis Newcastle Invitational and each time he was blown away with the experience.
“It was the best run tournament,” Bass said. “The people there were so nice, down to earth and it was just like, ‘Wow.’ Because I’ve always been at one school my whole life, I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. But I told my wife, ‘If that job ever opens up, I would apply for that job.’”
Bass spent his short retirement helping his former assistant coach Peyton Jones coach a third grade AAU basketball team that featured his granddaughter.
After stepping onto the hardwood again and getting a chance to teach the basic fundamentals of basketball, it didn’t take long for him to realize how much he missed the sport. He immediately began to doubt if he should have retired.
“But coaching my granddaughter it was like, I kind of miss that,” Bass said. “So it went from getting into basketball from coaching my daughter and now it’s getting back into it from coaching my granddaughter.”
Bass brings a formidable resume to Newcastle. He spent 25 years on the coaching bench, 19 as a head coach and six as an assistant. During his 19-year run as head coach, he went 382-118 with 17 winning seasons, 14 state tournament appearances and two state titles.
He was named as the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year and Oklahoma Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year four times.
Last season, Newcastle finished with a 19-9 record and a berth in the 2020 Class 4A state tournament. Longtime coach Brett Sanders departed from the team in June.
The Racers were led by then-sophomore Karley Johnson, who averaged 19.0 points per game. She was named to The Oklahoman’s Little All-City First Team.
“I’m really excited,” Bass said. “I got that fire going back again.”