BOYS BASKETBALL: Nate Bridges leaving Odessa High, taking over head coaching position at Greenwood

After one season at the helm of the Odessa High boys basketball program, Nate Bridges confirmed Wednesday during a phone interview that he has accepted the same job at Greenwood.

Jared Sanderson — Greenwood’s athletic director and head football coach — said Bridges was approved in Monday’s regularly scheduled school board meeting.

The Greenwood athletic director and head football coach had prior knowledge of Bridges as Sanderson was previously at Levelland where Bridges graduated from and his father served as principal. Sanderson believes Bridges is the great hire for the program.

“I’ve known Nate for a long time,” Sanderson said. “He graduated from Levelland and he has a lot of ties (to Levelland) and his dad was the principal in Levelland. I watched him coach for all those years he was at Lubbock-Cooper. He always got the most out of his kids. He takes care of kids and he treats them right.”

Bridges saw Odessa High finish the 2016-17 campaign with a 10-22 overall record, 1-9 in District 2-6A play. The Bronchos averaged 58.8 points per game, but allowed 61.7 in their 32-game season.

Greenwood ended its season with an 11-20 record, but reached the Class 4A playoffs after a 3-5 finish in its District 4-4A schedule. The Rangers lost to Clint 63-48 in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

“I was very fortunate to get to work with coach (Danny) Servance, principal (Gregory) Nelson and (ECISD athletic director) Todd Vesley this year and I’m grateful for that opportunity,” said Bridges, who will also coach track and field at Greenwood. “(Greenwood) is a good opportunity for basketball and my family and what we feel like we are supposed to do.”

Prior to his arrival at Odessa High, Bridges coached the previous six years at Lubbock-Cooper where the program reach the playoffs in each of those seasons. He also spent four years as the assistant boys basketball coach at Denton Guyer.

Bridges brings a wealth of basketball knowledge to Greenwood as he played four years of college basketball — one at South Plains College and three at Wayland Baptist — and in the latter he helped the Pioneers make two trips to NAIA National Tournament. Bridges was a two-time academic all-American, member of the 1,000-point club and was elected to program’s all-decade team.

Sanderson, who accepted the Greenwood athletic director and head football coaching job at Greenwood in January, said Bridges has experienced success whether it has been at the Class 3A, 5A and 6A levels.

“He’ll do really well in a small school setting like Greenwood and we are excited to have him,” Sanderson said.

Much like a year ago when Matt Jackson departed for Lorena, which is a Class 4A program southwest of Waco, the coach that inherits the Bronchos program will have plenty of experience returning.

The Bronchos will return junior guards Isaac Hernandez, who was named 2017 District 2-6A Offensive MVP and an first-team all-district selection, and Miguel Fonseca — a second-team all-district selection — and sophomore guard Kaleb Murry. Hernandez was the team’s leading scorer at 18.4 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game, while Fonseca averaged double-digit points.

“I got to work with an awesome group of guys this year at Odessa High and I got to work for tremendous people,” Bridges said. “It was tough to tell the guys, but they’ll be all right and they have good futures moving forward.”

On the flipside, the Rangers graduate 10 of 14 players from last year’s roster.

The leading returning scorers are sophomore post Logan Jarvis and freshman guard Ryan Snodgrass. Jarvis averaged 5.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 30 games, while Snodgrass averaged 5.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14 games.

Bridges knows Greenwood has previous tradition of performing well in the playoffs with nine postseason victories since the team finished runner-up to Kountze in the Class 3A state championship game in 2004. Bridges played alongside of Kris Hatley, who helped the Rangers reached the state title game, during his final two years at Wayland Baptist.

“They’ve had success in years past in the early 2000s,” Bridges said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”