When Chase Rutledge first started playing basketball in the 7th Grade he would play against older kids and he would tie his right hand to shoot lay-ups with his left, all in an effort to become a better player. It appears that hard work and hitting a growth spurt has paid off for the West Orange-Stark Mustang senior point guard as he finished the season as the Co-MVP of District 24-4A. Matthew Kress of Orangefield shared the MVP award.
Coach Tremaine Hancock said Rutledge averaged 17 points per game, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block.
“I love basketball because of how competitive it is,” Rutledge said. “It takes things off of my mind when I start shooting.”
Hancock said basketball is like life- there are ups and downs but you keep on pressing.
Rutledge said the strengths of his game is shooting, though he could be even more consistent in that. Another is knowing when to attack and knowing when to handle the ball.
He added he could also improve in his passing game. He also plays some shooting guard and other positions. “I’ve been playing on the Varsity since I was a Freshman. I like scoring, but I don’t mind passing,” he said. Rutledge said the biggest thing Coach Hancock has taught him is to remain calm in bringing the ball up the court and seeing the defense. “He really improved a lot. He averaged 21 points in District,” Hancock said. The Mustangs were a younger squad this season. Rutledge said the season was fun, but they didn’t go as far as they would had liked. “We had a learning curve because we were a young team,” he said.
Rutledge and one other player were the only seniors on the team. He was kind of a player-coach on the floor. He enjoyed the individual accolades, but he wished the team went farther in playoffs instead. “We almost beat Cleveland. It was a controversial call that went bad,” Hancock said. The year prior, the Mustangs entered the first round of the playoffs and lost to Navasota to compile a 26 and 6 season. In addition to basketball, Rutledge also has played baseball and golf throughout high school. He formerly played football. He had one C on his report card in Pre-Calculus.
Rutledge said he would like to play basketball in the college ranks and become a coach after his playing days. He doesn’t know yet, however, which college he will attend. Rutledge draws his motivation from Michael Jordan and Larry Bird who would practice on their games eight hours a day.
“I understand the game and I ask coach a lot so I can learn,” he said. Hancock said Rutledge is a “great young man” who has a lot of positive things going for him in the near future. “I’ve enjoyed coaching him. I wish I had another one of him this season. Everything he’s learned he can put at the next level. I tell him to trust in the Lord,” Hancock said. “Just do what he needs to do and God will take care of the rest.” Hancock said his players have learned much more outside of basketball about the most important things in life.
“Basketball is a family; we’re together eight hours a day. I’ve approached it in a positive way so he can become a better young man,” Hancock said.
Rutledge doesn’t have a scholarship offer yet but Hancock said his brother is a recruiter and he knows how the system works and feels it’s only a matter of time.“I can only present you and sell you but the rest is up to you,” he said.

Photo – Chase Rutledge, a senior at West Orange-Stark High School, was the Co-MVP for District 24-4A in basketball this season. He attributes his success to hard work and listening and learning from his coach.
RECORD PHOTO: David Ball