Bearcat basketball players sign on to play for Cougars
     2012-04-13      By Press Release    news@geringcitizen.com
Scottsbluff basketball players from left, Isaiah Castellaw, Zach Clemens and Rich Williams celebrate their decision to become WNCC Cougars with WNCC coach Russ Beck (back left) and Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske (right). 
SCOTTSBLUFF — Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball coach Russ Beck loves winners and he didn’t have to look far after signing three members of the Class B state championship basketball team to letters of intent on Monday.

Scottsbluff Bearcat seniors Isaiah Castellaw, Zach Clemens and Rich Williams all signed to be Cougars next year.

The three seniors led Scottsbluff to its first basketball state title since 1955 and now they will look to bring another championship to the valley as members of the WNCC men’s basketball team.

“We are always going out looking for guys that know how to win and this is the winningest group of guys in the area,” Beck said. “We don’t care if a good player is in our backyard or they are over in Europe, we are serious about winning here and taking this team and program to the next level. The boys this year did a good job and got us very, very close to the national tournament.

We are not going to be happy until we experience that feeling of winning a championship. We have three guys here that have won a championship at the state level and now we are looking to win a championship at the national level.

Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske said these three guys will be successful at WNCC.

“First and foremost, these three are quality people. They will be good ambassadors for WNCC just like they were for Scottsbluff,” Siske said. “Secondly, they are going to come in and work hard and they are going to compete, push each other and push their teammates and try to help WNCC be successful.”

Siske knew that these three had all the makings to be champions, but it was up to them to get the job done.

“You never know if you are going to win a state championship but I did see in these three individuals the potential,” he said. “It was up to them to put in the hard work and make them successful to give themselves the opportunity to win a state championship and an opportunity to play at the next level.”

They definitely succeeded and for all three, it was a pretty easy choice to not only choose basketball but WNCC.

Castellaw, who excelled in basketball, track and field, and tennis, said he choose basketball because it is a sport that he loves. “I had a track scholarship, but I decided to come here to play basketball,” the 6-foot-6 center said. “It wasn’t too hard to decide on coming here.”

Castellaw said there were times that he envisioned himself in a blue and gold uniform while watching the Cougars. And, because it is so close to home, was one of the reasons he selected WNCC.

“I picked WNCC because it is close to home and I can stay close to my family for another two years,” he said.

Clemens decision to come here was a little bit more complicated as he had a number of schools that wanted Scottsbluff’s all-time leading scorer.

Clemens, however, picked WNCC over the University of Nebraska Kearney as a stepping stone to get to the NCAA Division I level.

“I had narrowed down my schools to Kearney and WNCC and I choose WNCC because it is a good program and I get to stay close to home and my family,” the 6-foot-4 wing player said. “Watching the program is helpful because you know what the program is about and what kind of guys they get in to play.”

Clemens added that it is going to be really cool that he will playing another two years with Castellaw and Williams.

“That is going to be a lot of fun. They are two of my best friends and it will be fun to spend two more years on the court with them,” he said.

Clemens said the success they achieved on the basketball court has to do with the work they put in to get better. That is something he said they will bring to the Cougar Palace next year.

“It is just a lot of hard work paying off,” he said. “When we were little kids, we worked hard on our games. It is just really exciting to be that successful because a lot of teams are not that successful.”

Clemens, who became the school’s all-time leading scorer, never thought about how many points he scored and the like. He just let everything come naturally.

“I never really thought about records until my freshman year when I played with Tim McDavid and he broke the record. I got close to breaking the record my sophomore year for single points, I knew I could do it if I worked hard during the off season and season. That is when I knew I could break the career record.”

Williams, on the other hand, had plans on playing out here since his junior year in high school.

“I choose WNCC because the coaching staff is great and I get along with the majority of the guys here,” he said. “What really helped make the decision is how this team is not just one player scores all the points, but they are a balanced team.”

Williams knows he can still get better and that is what he is banking on, to improve his shooting to get to the next level.

Williams, who first started playing basketball when he was eight years old, said basketball is his passion.

The three are hoping to renew that championship feeling at WNCC, but as for the high school title their lives are slowly returning to normal.

“Now that I am in track, it has died down a little bit,” Castellaw said. “But I am still excited that I am a state champion.”

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