Brentwood’s practice jerseys have RTBO printed on the back.
That stands for Refuse to be Ordinary, the title of boys coach Dennis King’s motivational book based on his 37-year career that was published last fall.
“Refuse to be Ordinary” was painted in blue and gold letters on the cinder blocks in the Bruins’ locker room four years ago as it became a team slogan.
There wasn’t anything ordinary about the Bruins this season as they earned their first trip to the Class AAA tournament in the school’s 30-year history. Brentwood (29-4) also broke the school record for wins.
“Our kids have refused to be ordinary all year,” King said. “There was nothing ordinary about this team.”
The fifth-ranked Bruins will face No. 1 Blackman (30-0) in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at 11:45 a.m. at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.
The journey to state has been a long one for the 62-year-old King, who is in his 26th season at Brentwood.
“It went from just being a goal every year to being a bucket-list thing now that I’m getting older,” King said.
Brentwood finished one win short six times with sectional losses.
The Bruins finally made it with last week’s 60-54 sectional win over Wilson Central, but the Wildcats made King sweat it out.
Wilson Central ended Brentwood’s season in the 2012 sectional and fell behind by 13 points in the first half of last week’s rematch, but rallied to make the game tight.
Doubt started to set in for the gray-haired King, who has 665 career wins.
“I’m thinking, ‘This just can’t be happening again,’ ” King said. “I was sick to my stomach. I was thinking, ‘How can I walk out in the community again and show my face?’ But the boys rallied, and they made some big shots. Andy Schumpert was just unbelievable that night, and we’re on our way.”
Schumpert led the Bruins with 21 points, including the go-ahead basket with just over two minutes left. He is averaging 13.8 points.
Seniors Cody Shelton, Asa Duvall and Luke Pastina have led the way for Brentwood. Shelton, a 6-foot-5 forward who has been hampered by a knee injury for most of the season, is averaging 14.1 points and five rebounds.
“That was our goal all year — to be the first team to get to state,” Shelton said. “The past two years we made it to (the sectional) and had lost. We made it our goal this year to try to get to state, and it’s just awesome that we pulled that off.”
Duvall, a 6-2 Stetson signee, leads the Bruins with 84 3-pointers and is averaging 13.1 points.
“We’re just glad we finally got Coach King there,” Duvall said. “I’ve got the highest respect for (him). He deserves it. He hadn’t slept at night because he hadn’t been there, so we’re glad we finally gave it to him.”
King is an old-school coach who pushes players hard every day at practice.
“He never takes it easy on you,” Duvall said. “You’ve got to be able to take criticism. That’s one thing I’ve learned from him. He’s going to say things to you — you might not like it, but you’ve got to deal with it. You’ve got to work through it, and that’s what’s made me stronger.”
Brentwood took a 17-game win streak into the postseason before going 0-2 at the District 11-AAA tournament. King told the team not to panic, and they have won four straight since then.
Christ Presbyterian Academy coach Drew Maddux, whose team beat Brentwood 71-66 in the Bruins’ second game, sent King a congratulatory email the morning after the sectional win.
“For years and years, coaches like myself that are young coaches have always admired and looked up to Coach King for all that he’s done in this community and for Brentwood High School,” said Maddux, whose defending champion Lions made it back to the Class AA tournament. “I think Coach King will come out with a radical game plan against Blackman.”
Blackman, led by Mr. Basketball finalist Darius Thompson, gave Brentwood its most lopsided loss, 74-41, on Dec. 7. It was the Bruins’ first game after losing Will Jones, one of their top inside players, to a season-ending knee injury.
“I call (Thompson) the high school Magic Johnson,” King said. “He’s got the size, he’s got great vision, he’s drilling the 3-pointers. He sees the floor better than any point guard in the state.”
Blackman broke a school record with 16 3-pointers in the win over Brentwood.
“It was almost surreal how well they shot that night,” King said. “We just ran into a perfect storm, and I just hope that it’s calmer weather on Wednesday morning.”