After coming on as an assistant coach for the 2016-17 season, Paul Bain is now stepping into the head coaching role for the Sedona Red Rock High School boys basketball team.
Before moving to Sedona two-and-a-half years ago, Bain was an assistant at Summit Country Day High School in Cincinnati. In the first year, the team reached the Elite Eight of the state tournament and won the state title in the second.
Bain, who played at the University of Oregon from 1979 to 1983, has big plans for the team.
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“We’re interested in winning the state championship, so that’s our goal,” Bain said. “We lost in the first round [of the AIA 2A State Championship], so that’s where we are. And we want to win four games [in the tournament] and want to win a state championship. That’s what we’re going for.”
Despite not having a power forward or center, Bain sees a team talented enough to take the title. Between a group of incoming freshmen who just placed second at the Arizona Small Schools State Championship in February and a returning core of players, Bain has a large talent pool to begin sculpting his program.
“I could not be more excited about coaching these kids ... I’m shocked at the amount of talent at such a small school, I feel blessed with this talent,” Bain said. “I feel like I’ve been given a huge opportunity to put a really quality product on the floor.”
To reach that goal, Bain aims to transform the team to fit the values he learned growing up playing basketball in Mercer Island, Wash.
At Mercer Island High School under Ed Pepple, who at the time of his retirement had the most wins of any active high school coach in Washington state history, Bain received “some of the best coaching any kid can get anywhere.”
Having coached for almost 20 years, he will instill those same values he learned there to the Scorpions program. He wants the Red Rock faithful to see the players who best fit his mold at both ends of the floor to their full potential for 32 minutes.
“I love basketball and I love working with kids,” Bain said. “And so I’m going to teach them fundamentals, I’m going to teach them how to play unselfish, team basketball, and I’m going to teach them how to play hard. Same things I was taught.”
Bain, whose hero is John Wooden, said he is not the type of coach who yells, but one who is constantly talking at practice, and he holds nothing back. No matter the player, he will relay the message he needs to in order to get the desired result.
“I define myself as a coach who never makes a decision that’s not in the best interest of the team,” Bain said. “I don’t think you ever say anything bad ... it’s helping kids get better ... I’m interested in them getting individually better inside of the team concept.”
But were it not for Jason Bruce, who will take over the junior varsity team, and God, Bain would not be in this position.
Bruce, aside from coaching, agreed to handle the administrative side of the program, ultimately allowing Bain to simply focus on coaching. It was a necessary stipulation for Bain’s agreement.
“First of all I want to thank coach Westervelt, he was instrumental in me getting this position,” Bain said. “He [Bruce] has agreed to take all of that on, which allows me to coach, and that’s what I really want to do.”
Between the timing of former head coach Kirk Westervelt’s departure, Bruce’s willingness to take care of the details and Bain’s presence to take the reigns, to him it would not happen without the influence of God.
“I’m very focused and excited because of that clarity,” Bain said. “It was the most important thing in accepting this position. I do believe it was God’s will and from there it’s my commitment to give this program and these kids everything I have.”
Westervelt said he had a good relationship with Bain and that he was an instrumental part in the team’s success, which was tying for first in the 2A Central Region and earning a berth to the Arizona Interscholastic Association 2A State Championship.
“Paul Bain is a big reason for our success,” Westervelt said. “He was a loyal assistant coach but not a ‘Yes Man.’ We butted heads at times, but I’m going to miss him.”
Additionally, Bain revealed that 2016 Red Rock graduate Wyatt Stevenson is also going to join the Scorpions coaching staff.
Many players play on a travel team with Bruce that recently won a tournament in Happy Valley.
When the AIA’s recent rule change dissolving restrictions barring coaches from working with their student-athletes outside of their respective seasons takes effect on July 1, said Bain, “We’re going to be practicing as much as summer allows.”