Kraft named girls’ basketball coach
Randy Kraft's hiatus from basketball was short-lived.
One year removed from coaching at Colony-Crest High School, Kraft is back in the sport, this time as the new Tonganoxie girls' basketball coach.
The agriculture instructor at Tonganoxie High School was named the new coach at Monday's special school board meeting. He replaces Leslie Foster, who resigned from her teaching position last month.
Kraft spent 23 years at CCHS, 40 miles south of Ottawa, before coming to Tonganoxie last fall. He was the Lancers' boys coach the first seven years and the girls coach the last 16.
Kraft is ready to get back into coaching.
"It was definitely something I wanted to pursue," Kraft said.
In his first season as the girls' coach at CCHS, Kraft took the Lancers from a two-win season to 18-4 in his fourth year.
Colony-Crest won five of six Three Rivers League titles in Kraft's last few years at the school. Other teams in that league are Le Roy, Pleasanton, Marmaton Valley and Williamsburg. Tonganoxie boys coach David Walker coached at Williamsburg before coming to THS.
Kraft never made a state appearance with the Lancers, but he guided them to several sub-state championship games.
The Class 1A tournament requires a regional tournament before sub-state, so teams have to play six games to reach the state tournament. All other Kansas classes have three postseason games.
Another transition for Kraft is in school size. Colony-Crest has 72 students, while Tonganoxie is at 376, but that doesn't concern Kraft.
"At a small school, you're a lot more at the mercy of the kids," Kraft said. "There are a lot less kids to pick from."
At a smaller school, Kraft said, there are always three or four strong players, but it's more difficult to find the fifth, sixth and seventh players.
A native of Gridley, Kraft, 47, graduated from Kansas State University before eventually taking over a struggling program at CCHS. Taking on girls' basketball this year might appear to some as another rebuilding campaign.
Tonganoxie lost five seniors all of whom started consistently in the Chieftains' 7-14 campaign this year.
Kraft said he was concerned about the large class, but has seen talent in the younger girls.
"One of the first things we need work on is leadership," Kraft said. "Someone has to step forward."
The Chieftains could find help from its freshmen the ninth-grade team went undefeated this season. As a spectator during the winter, Kraft saw improvement.
"A lot of young kids showed potential," Kraft said.
Tonganoxie school superintendent saw potential in Kraft as well.
"He has a proven track record," Erickson said. "He's very successful.
"We wish him the best; we're expecting great things from the girls basketball program."
Time wasn't wasted in finding a replacement for Foster, as the process took roughly a month. The other two applicants were athletics director/baseball coach John Lee and assistant volleyball/freshman boys basketball coach Brandon Parker.
Erickson said the school wanted to hire a coach before basketball camps are set up this summer.
"It's probably one of the toughest decisions we've had to make," Erickson said about the coaching choice.
Kraft said he wants to establish a summer league at Tonganoxie or find leagues for his players.
The preparation is important for Kraft, who said discipline is his main concern. Whether his team will be up-tempo or methodical, he wants discipline.
"We want a real aggressive defense," Kraft said.