Wag­ner guides PC North to first ever ti­tle

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY ADAM KEMP Staff Writer akemp@oklahoman.com

Ryan Wag­ner, Put­nam City North

As time ticked down in the Class 6A ti­tle game, Put­nam City North coach Ryan Wag­ner felt the weight lift.

Four years ago, Wag­ner in­her­ited a pro­gram that wasn’t used to win­ning. Put­nam City North was on a 8-year state tour­na­ment drought and even worse, his play­ers seemed em­brace that re­al­ity.

“From the very mo­ment we ar­rived on cam­pus we started talk­ing about cham­pi­onships,” Wag­ner said. “We wanted to build our kids’ ex­pec­ta­tions, be­cause their ex­pec­ta­tions weren’t very high.”

Four years later, Wag­ner and the Pan­thers reached the moun­tain top af­ter they took down Ed­mond Santa Fe to claim the Class 6A state ti­tle, the first in the school’s bas­ket­ball his­tory.

Wag­ner has been named The Oklahoman’s Su­per 5 Coach of the Year.

“It felt like a bal­loon pop­ping,” Wag­ner. “All that stress is re­leased and you’ve ac­com­plished what you set out to do.”

Wag­ner said get­ting guys to buy-in to his pro­gram’s cul­ture is what led to the turn­around.

“We tell guys you have to bring it ev­ery sin­gle day,” Wag­ner said. “You have got to pre­pare and be an ev­ery­day player. That’s how you build a work ethic and cul­ture.”

It also helps he has great play­ers.

Se­nior guard Adokiye Iyaye signed with UTSA, se­nior big man Blake Owens was a dou­ble­dou­ble ma­chine, guard Chris Braggs was the ul­ti­mate glue-guy and do-ev­ery­thing player while ju­nior point guard Micah Thomas is con­sid­ered to be one of the top 2019 play­ers.

Still, Put­nam City North had a few slip-ups through­out the reg­u­lar sea­son. They lost in the fi­nals of the Put­nam City In­vi­ta­tional as well as in the fi­nals of the Bruce Gray In­vi­ta­tional at Deer Creek.

“We thought com­ing in we had the abil­ity to do some­thing great,” Wag­ner said. “You ex­pe­ri­ence ad­ver­sity and that sharp­ens you up for the playoffs.”

With that ex­pe­ri­ence, Wag­ner said his team played the three best games it played all year in the state tour­na­ment as PCN took down Tulsa Union, Nor­man North and Ed­mond Santa Fe to claim the cham­pi­onship.

“You stick with the process and see it through,” Wag­ner said. “This is kind of the fruit of our la­bor.”

[PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN]

Su­per 5 Coach of the Year Ryan Wag­ner, Put­nam City North.

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