Kalamazoo basketball ranks No. 1 in the nation

Posted at 9:25 PM, Dec 29, 2015

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- The Western Michigan Broncos aren't the only winning team in town. The Kalamazoo Pure - the area's first basketball team - are undefeated this season with a 10-0 record. The American Basketball Association released their power rankings and the Pure were listed No. 1. And the best part, they were formed in July of this year.

"We’re number one in the nation," said owner Rico White. "We just won a real nail-biter this weekend against the Lake Hawks out of Muskegon in overtime. It was just a thrill of lifetime. The coaching staff was wonderful, our audience was wonderful. It’s just an overwhelming experience."

White and the coaches said the team's success stems from their hustle on the court. They recently beat four of the top 20 teams in the league.

"We’ve been at it since August I think, practicing and conditioning,"said assistant coach Kevin Lillibridge. "They’re smart players. They played college ball. They just always go above and beyond what we expect."

Lillibridge and fellow assistant coaches Janell Smith and Chris Thomas work alongside Ward on the sidelines. Ward said the team could not have gotten to 10-0 without their help.

"The success comes from my assistant coaches. Kevin Lillibridge is like Tex Winter to Phil Jackson. And I’m not Phil Jackson but he is Tex Winters," said Ward referencing the Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers championship winning coaching duo.

Even though the team is playing well with great intensity, coach Ward said the team has a lot of practicing to do to make it to the playoffs in April in Laredo, Texas.

"We missed 19 free throws the last game," said Ward. "And the game prior to that we missed 30 free throws and we still won the game. So it says a lot about our team that we’re missing so many free throws and we’re still winning the game."

White said he always had faith his team would be one of the best in the league. Their secret, he said, is because they consider to be brothers.

"I think it was in Drum Line they said 'One Band, One Sound'," White said. "Same thing with us, it’s a family. It’s Pure, the family."