Former Panthers coach bringing Regent Prep team to tourney
A familiar face will return to Siloam Springs High School this week for the ninth annual Siloam Springs Holiday Classic.
Former Siloam Springs boys basketball coach and athletics director Kerwin Dees will be back in the Panther Activity Center, the arena he helped design. But this time it’s as head coach and athletics director of Regent Prep (Okla.), one of the eight teams participating in the boys bracket.
“I am excited to be back in Siloam for the tournament,” Dees said. “It will be great to see family and friends in Siloam and to bring our Regent team to see such a great gym and school that we all were blessed to work on together.”
The Siloam Springs Holiday Classic, which was started under Dees’ leadership in 2010, will be a mini reunion of sorts for the former Panthers coach, who was head boys coach at Siloam Springs from 2000 to 2005 and athletics director from 2005 to the summer of 2012. He resigned in 2012 to take an athletics director job at Lexington (Ky.) Christian Academy.
Dees later returned to coaching at Regent Prep and is in his fourth season with the Rams with a record of 73-40. Overall he has 436 career victories, which includes a head coaching stint at Prairie Grove (1977-1983), which is another school participating in the tournament.
“I have such a rich history at Siloam and in Prairie Grove, my hometown,” Dees said.
Regent Prep went 20-8 last year and has been to the Oklahoma Class A State Tournament two of the last three years.
The Rams got a late start to their 2018-19 season because their football team played in the state finals.
Regent Prep is one of three Oklahoma teams in the tournament, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning with Rogers
I am excited to be back in Siloam for the tournament. It will be great to see family and friends in Siloam and to bring our Regent team to see such a great gym and school that we all were blessed to work on together. Kerwin Dees Regent Prep head basketball coach and athletics director
taking on Siloam Springs’ junior varsity.
Regent Prep will play Springdale at 1 p.m., followed by Coweta, Okla., versus Prairie Grove at 4 p.m. and the nightcap with Siloam Springs hosting Claremore, Okla.
Dees said by the time the Siloam Springs Holiday Classic rolls around, the Rams will only have had seven full practices and played three games.
“To play Springdale, one of the largest and most athletic 6A schools in Arkansas in the first round of the Siloam tournament with only seven practices will be quite a challenge,” Dees said. “Our season goal is to be battletested and to improve during the year so that we can be very tough at playoff time, at the end of the year.”
Current Siloam Springs boys basketball coach Tim Stewart, who was hired under Dees’ administration, said he’s excited to have the former coach return.
“We’re excited to have Regent Prep coming to our holiday tournament this year,” Stewart said. “Not only because they’re a quality team but also because it will be the return of Kerwin Dees, who played such an important role here at this school for many years. Coach Dees is a fantastic basketball mind and has made a huge impact on all of us here at SSHS.
“With 6A Rogers and Springdale coming to the tournament along with Oklahoma’s Coweta and Claremore high schools
there’s no shortage of fire-power in this year’s field.”
Dees also acknowledged that it will be good to see former friends who helped him through a difficult time several years ago when his first wife Vicki Dees died in March 2011.
“I will never forget the kindness and help to me from the entire community, Mr. (Ken) Ramey and the school staff, and my Sager Creek church family when our family was in a cancer journey with Vicki, my late wife,” Dees said. “The people of Siloam have a special place in my heart.”
The girls bracket will feature a five-team field after a couple of teams dropped out late, according to Siloam Springs head girls coach Tim Rippy.
Rogers and Coweta will play at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by Siloam Springs (2-8) and Prairie Grove at 5:30 p.m.
The winner of Siloam Springs and Prairie Grove will take on Springdale at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
Though short on teams, Rippy said the tournament field is very competitive.
Springdale features 6-foot-1 Arkansas signee Marquesha Davis, while Rogers and Prairie Grove have already defeated Siloam Springs earlier this season.
“It may be one of the strongest fields we’ve had in the last four years,” Rippy said. “Coweta, they’re ranked second in Oklahoma class 5A, everyone back, very good team. Rogers is playing extremely well. Springdale they’re tough, they’ve got a Lady Razorback, and then Prairie Grove. The field is strong even though it’s small.”
Former Siloam Springs head boys basketball coach and athletics director Kerwin Dees returns to town this week as head coach/AD of Regent Prep (Okla.) for the Siloam Springs Holiday Classic, which begins Thursday at Siloam Springs High School.