Ten of Red Cloud Indian School’s student-athletes will play during halftime of a Denver Nuggets basketball game this Saturday, March 23. The Crusaders were first invited to Denver by Lisa Johnson, Nuggets executive director of basketball administration, in 2009 after she reached out to recognize the Lakota students for their perseverance and excellence in the classroom.
This year the Red Cloud High School Crusaders boys hoopsters, led by Christian McGhee ‘08, now the school’s athletic director and boys’ basketball coach, were invited for the third time to celebrate the players success both in the classroom and on the court.
“Red Cloud Indian School has been near and dear to my heart for many years,” says Lisa Johnson, in a press release. “They have impressed our organization each year with not only their athletic abilities, but by their academics and citizenship. These students have earned the right to come here and they have the support and respect of our entire staff. It is our pleasure to welcome them.”
The visiting Crusaders, which include Kobe O’Rourke, Ryan Hussman, Colby Hunter, Mato Hinton, Colton Sierra, Kein Clements, Caine Ghost Bear, Justin Mesteth, Brannon Cousin, and Randy Hughes, will work out with Nuggets coach Steve Hess and then scrimmage one another between halves when the Nuggets take on the Sacramento Kings Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.
First year Red Cloud High School principal Robin Johnson couldn’t be more elated by the partnership. “This is a tremendous incentive in support of dedication in the classroom,” says Johnson, in the release. In celebrating the students’ efforts, she believes this opportunity will help to foster a greater sense of commitment and sportsmanship not just on the basketball court, but in life. “We humbly thank all of those involved and associated with the Denver Nuggets in making this rare opportunity a reality.”
The nonprofit school, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota, has graduated 57 Gates Millennium Scholars – more per capita than any school in the country – and boasts a graduation rate on par with the nation’s top schools. Red Cloud students have achieved this success, despite the area’s high level of poverty and a nearly 80 percent unemployment rate.