Bryan Merritt has always wanted to coach basketball at Duncan High School, even though he is a graduate of Chickasha High school and coached at CHS.

Merritt was approved as the new high school basketball coach at DHS in a 3-0 vote Tuesday by Duncan Board of Education members Craig Barnes, Lisa Thomas and Lisa Presgrove. Kevin Kinnaird was not present at the meeting and Danny McCall resigned earlier in the day.

Merritt, 36, was drawn to Duncan when he was in high school.

“I played at Chickasha in high school and I knew it was a great town with good people,” he said. “I knew the athletics tradition was there. The basketball might not have been as strong traditionally, but I knew the athletic tradition was there, so I knew with the right person, the right attitude and the right work ethic it could be a really good basketball job as well.”

Merritt has spent the last two seasons at Watonga High School, and was 15-11 this season. Before that, he was an assistant at Chickasha High School for three seasons. While at CHS, the varsity team won 80 games and made state tournament appearances in 2003 and 2004.

Under Merritt, the basketball program’s philosophy will be a selective approach on offense with the mindset on defense first.

“Everybody is going to say they want to run and get up and down the court,” Merritt said. “But to be real honest with you, I know coach (Bruce) Harrington at Ike (Lawton Eisenhower), coach (Kevin) Harrington at Mac (Lawton MacArthur) and Mark Wilson over at Ardmore, and I know what the teams in this league do.

“We’ll run, but we’ll be selective when we run. From a basketball standpoint, I don’t want to get into a track meet with Ardmore, Lawton Ike or Lawton High. We are going to play good defense, and get back and make it hard for people to score. We’ll try to limit their easy shots.”

DHS athletic director Burl White said that Merritt was the right candidate at the right time.

“I think he is the right person at the right time,” White said. “He is young and enthusiastic. We had a list of things we wanted and hit on all of them. We wanted someone who, whether they had been a head coach or not, was familiar with the people we play. I’ve got a great deal of confidence in him.”

Merritt said he will try to get the Demons to have an attitude of getting the ball into the lane.

“We are going to get the ball inside,” he said. “I think in high school basketball, if you get the ball inside you are going to win. Whether that is through driving the lane or throwing it inside, that is what wins games.”

Sharing players with other sports won’t be a problem for Merritt.

“Some coaches say they want 15 basketball players in the gym all the time, I want 15 competitors in the gym,” Merritt said. “If they want to play football, or baseball, that’s great. If they are competitors, then we’ll work on the basketball later. I think it helps them to play other sports. They have to have the same commitment to basketball as they do to football and baseball. I don’t think you can go wrong with having competitors.”

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