Just like the ball in their sport, some basketball coaches at Hurst L.D. Bell High School are doing some bouncing around come next season.
Long-time Blue Raiders coach Willie Henderson is retiring from the profession after 11 years at the helm. He will be replaced by Brock Pembleton, who has led the Lady Raiders to success since 2009.
Pembleton will be replaced by Andy Bloodworth, who returned to the HEB school district this past season as a junior high coach following several successful years as a varsity coach in Oklahoma.
Henderson is going to continue working in the HEB district. He will be teaching economics and world geography at Keys Alternative School come the fall.
“It’s just time,” Henderson said of leaving basketball. “You just know when it’s time. But it’s been a good run.
“I’m excited about the new challenge. I’m sure I’ll miss the coaching aspect, but I’ll be available after 4:30 from now on,” he added with a laugh.
I’ve enjoyed the 11 years I’ve coached the girls, I just felt a calling to make the move back to the boys.
Brock Pembleton, who is taking over the boys basketball program at L.D. Bell
Henderson has been in coaching 27 years. He is also in the HEB Hall of Fame for his playing days at Euless Trinity High School’s Trojans in the early 1980s. He helped the Trojans to their first playoff appearance in school history in 1983.
“I’m a product of HEB for sure,” Henderson said.
Pembleton coached high school and college basketball for 14 years before coming to Bell in 2006. He won two boys district championships in five seasons at Lubbock High and built the men’s program at Dallas Christian College, leading them to two National Christian College Association Tournaments in six seasons. He became an assistant there just after graduating college.
In 2006, Pembleton joined the Lady Raiders as an assistant coach. In 2009 he took over as head coach.
“I wanted to be with my family. My first year as a head coach, I got to coach my daughter. She was a freshman, Newcomer of the Year in district,” Pembleton said.
Pembleton’s Lady Raiders teams reached the postseason seven times, including each of the past six. His 2013-2014 squad advanced to the regional finals.
“I’ve enjoyed the 11 years I’ve coached the girls, I just felt a calling to make the move back to the boys,” Pembleton said.
Pembleton was a high school state champion as a junior in Lovington, New Mexico, in the first of back-to-back state appearances.
“We had a miracle season my junior year, the lowest seed in the tournament,” he said. “That was the same year (1983) North Carolina State upset Houston to win the NCAA Tournament.”
Pembleton inherits a Raiders team that has six returners, plus another three who saw time on both the varsity and junior varsity, from a 4-25 team that was 1-13 in district.
“They were a young group last year and they gained some experience,” he said. “They’ll be better because of that.”
Bloodworth is taking over a Lady Raiders program that was 20-13 and reached the bi-district round of the playoffs. They graduated seniors Lexi Gordon and Tiana Johnson. Gordon has signed to play for the University of Connecticut next season.
“They’re still in decent shape,” Pembleton said. “They’ve got Myra (Lexi’s sophomore sister) and others who will step in and do some good things.”
Bloodworth worked in the HEB system from 1999-2007 after graduating from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He coached at Plainview High School in Ardmore, Oklahoma from 2007-16, posting a 165-73 record. His 2015-16 team became the first ever from the school to reach the state tournament.
“HEB always held a special spot in the hearts of my wife and I,” Bloodworth said. “We always knew we’d get back.”
This past season Bloodworth was the freshman coach. He led his team to a 25-2 record and the District 5-6A championship.