Coaching Champions


Photo by Anna Sandage

The roar of the crowd flourishes around the gym, with crowds louder than ever, but one group of voices is louder than the others: the coaches. 


Head Coach Ryan Phifer’s coaching skills have been recognized by Head Girls Coach Ann Fritz, where she reflects on his leadership. 


“Coach Phifer really works hard to build relationships with his players to get the most out of them so they can be successful on the basketball court and as people,” Fritz said. 


Both Head Coach Ryan Phifer and Varsity Assistant Coach Brandon Clifford played collegiate basketball, where Phifer attended Mid-Plains Community College for two years, then attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Clifford attended Pitt State for two years, then later transferred to Baker University, where he held the highest PPG (points per game) in 2018-2020. Doll on the other hand, did not. 


“I wasn’t good enough to play basketball in college… but I just love competing on a regular basis when you cant be a player.


Phifer and Clifford immediately clicked this summer while Clifford was on the hunt for a teaching and coaching position around the local school districts. The two met while Clifford was coaching a summer league basketball team called MoKan (Missouri/Kansas Basketball Club), where Phifer was coaching his son’s team. 


“While I was coaching at MoKan, during that I got to meet coach Phifer and talk to him.. I really liked the fit that we had together and how we saw the same thing when it came to our basketball philosophies,” Clifford said. 


Beginning the Blue Valley North basketball season, theCoaching staff is optimistic. As the team runs off the high of last seasons State Championship win, the coaches are nothing short of excited for what’s to come next for the boys and the program. 


“It’s been a really solid start so far, we had a successful season last year,” Phifer said.


Heading into the season, the coaching staff knew that there weren’t many assumptions about the team heading into the new season, considering the Mustangs lost seniors. 


“There aren’t quite as many expectations on our team this year, since we lost four really good starters,” Phifer said. “The expectations were pretty  low heading into the season, but the guys are working really hard. They’re working with a chip on their shoulder to prove that we still are the top team in the state while defending the state title,” Phifer said. 


Coach Phifer is positive that the team has not reached their maximum potential just yet, and the best is yet to arise for this young group of athletes.


“So far being 4-0 has exceeded a lot of expectations but I feel like we still have a lot of room to grow and a high potential for this team and I don’t think we have reached our peak by any means just yet,” Phifer said. 


The coaching staff is also very confident that the BVN basketball team will attend the state championship like they did last year. 


“All the players are stepping up, I think we’re going to be competitive to where we defend our state title,” Doll said. 


While entering the coaching aspect of the game, rather than the playing ideals, Coach Clifford plans to stay awhile due to the fact that the BVN Basketball program’s dynamic is something very special. 


“Being on the coaching side, rather than the playing side, I really love the atmosphere. Being here, with the energy that the BVN crowd brings, I really enjoy it and want to continue doing that,” Clifford said. 


With a new season awaiting the BVN Basketball boys, Coach Doll has some advice that he continuously passes on to his players, whether they are on or off the court.


“The biggest thing is just that you can only control your attitude and effort in anything you do in life. So, when bad things happen to you, in sports and on the court,  you can only control your attitude and how you react and that’s the same as when you go through life. Through sports we can find life lessons,” Doll said.