Thunder Hoopsters: Athletic But So Very New

By Mark Janssen

Game programs could be a big money maker at the Manhattan Christian College men’s basketball games this year.

“We have eight transfers. I don’t think I’ve ever had that many before, most of them have not played at their previous school so that makes us young from an experience standpoint,” said coach Shawn Condra. “We’re very athletic, but I’m concerned about the cohesiveness of the team. I’m concerned that we’re going to have to keep things very simple early in the season.”

The 24-year veteran coach added of his one senior, two  juniors, three sophomores and eight freshman roster, “We’re young as a cohesive group, but not necessarily from an age standpoint.”

The lone starter returning that logged significant minutes from a year ago is 5-foot-11 senior guard Sterling Turner, who averaged 13 points on 47 percent shooting, plus contributed 4.0 assists.

“If you have only one starter back, Sterling is a good one to have,” said Condra of Turner, who hit the 1,000 career scoring mark in this year’s opener. “He’s very gifted in the backcourt, but we need him to be more of a vocal leader.”

Other returnees are 6-5 sophomore, Logan Larue, plus 5-11 junior DeShawn Ortmeier and 6-3 sophomore Isaiah Dobbins, who was injured most of last year.

Other candidates around the perimeter are 6-1 freshman Sheldon Williams, 6-2 transfer Chelvin Webb, 6-0 sophomore Nate Logan and 5-9 freshmen Darius Denson.

“Sheldon is probably our best overall shooter and is a pretty athletic kid,” said Condra. “Nate is one of our more vocal leaders, but being new is challenge to being a leader.”

The task for Condra is replacing the 35 points that Mike White and Nick Babalola accounted for a year ago at the hoop or with mid-range jumpers.

Inside, Condra says, “We really don’t have that back to the basket player, but Darien Henry (6-6, Fr) could be our best face-up player, plus he can shoot it well,” plus there is 6-2 Trey Young, who, in Condra’s words, “…can be a beast on the boards.” Larue will be a starter upfront but he is inexperienced and the only other size is 6-8 freshmen Kobe Hula who is coming off injuries in high school so he needs some work before he will be able to contribute.

Overall, Condra said, “Most of our guys can step out and knock down the 3, but the problem is that they start falling in love with that style of play. In the Alumni game, it was make one pass and shoot the 3. I want to see multiple passes or attacking the rim.

“We probably have more athletes on the perimeter and a little more depth on the perimeter, but I’m not sure if we’ll shoot it as well as last year,” said Condra in reference to the 24-victory 2016-17 team that averaged 92 points per game. “We have some interchangeable parts, but we have to find guys who can knock down shots consistently.”

While admitting to being a bit of a pessimist, Condra likes the potential of this year’s group, but remains concerned with the “cohesiveness” of the play and the “lack of defensive fundamentals.”

He says, “Some seem to want to get after it on the defensive end, but others just don’t have some of the fundamentals you should have learned in elementary school. We play a tough schedule, so there may be some eye-opening games coming up.”

That has been seen in giving up an average of over 100 points in the first three games of the season, prior to an impressive 71-68 victory at McPherson College on Nov. 1.

Of MCC’s new Howie’s Activity Center, Condra said, “It’s so nice to practice from 5 to 7 instead of leaving for the City Auditorium at 9:30 at night and practicing until midnight. It’s been all I thought it would be, plus some.”


Shawn Condra has been the Athletic Director and Men's Basketball Coach at Manhattan Christian College since 1994. Beginning his 24th season, he has compiled an overall record of 475-283 entering the 2017-18 campaign. In 1996, MCC captured the NCCAA IIA National Championship and he was named the NCCAA IIA Coach of the Year. He has also been named the NCCAA Central Region Coach of the Year seven times (2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 & 2009, 2015).

MCC won the Regional Championship in 2017, defeating eventual National Champion Randall University 104-103. This was the third straight Regional Championship for MCC and the fifth overall.  It was in the 2004 season that MCC captured their first-ever central regional championship and Condra was selected as the 2004 National Coach of the Year.

MCC has produced thirteen seasons with 20 or more victories during Condra's tenure and the Thunder have made sixteen appearances in post-season National Tournaments.



Darious Denson, 5-9, Fr, Killeen, Texas

Chelvin Webb, 6-2, Jr, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Sterling Turner, 5-11, Sr, Dallas, Texas

Antonio Anderson, 6-0, Fr, Houston, Texas

DeShawn Ortmeier, 5-11, Jr, Omaha, Neb.

Isaiah Dobbins, 6-3, Soph, St. George, Ks.

Trey Young, 6-2, Fr, Corpus Christi, Texas

Logan Larue, 6-5, Soph, Crescent, Okla.

Nate Logan, 6-0, Soph, Del City, Okla.

Zach Ridgway, 5-8, Fr, Dodge City, Ks.

Deshon Lenette, 6-2, Fr, Houston, Texas

Sheldon Williams, 6-1, Fr, Overland Park, Ks.

Darien Henry, 6-6, Fr, Victoria, Texas

Kobe Hula, 6-8, Fr, Council Grove, Ks.



Oct. 27                    Mid America Christian University, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Oct. 28                    Oklahoma City University (Exhib.), Oklahoma City, Okla.

Oct. 30                    Southwestern College, Winfield, Ks.

Nov. 1                      McPherson College, McPherson, Ks.

Nov. 6                      UNION COLLEGE OF NEBRASKA, MANHATTAN

Nov. 10                   Oklahoma Wesleyan, McPherson, Ks.

Nov. 11                   Grace University, McPherson, Ks.

Nov. 15                   Newman University (Exhib.), Wichita, Ks.

Nov. 17                   Central Christian College, McPherson, Ks

Nov. 18                   Panhandle State (Exhib.), Goodwell, Okla.

Nov. 28                   Oklahoma Christian (Exhib.), Edmond, Okla.

Nov. 30                   Washburn University (Exhib.), Topeka, Ks.



Dec. 5                      BARCLAY COLLEGE, MANHATTAN

Dec. 8                      Dallas Christian College, Dallas, Texas

Dec. 9                      Arlington Baptist College, Arlington, Texas

Jan. 4                       Kansas Christian College, Kansas, Okla.

Jan. 5                       Toccoa Falls College, Kansas, Okla.

Jan. 12                    Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, Mo.

Jan. 15                    Randall University, Moore, Okla.

Jan. 16                    CALVARY UNIVERSITY, MANHATTN

Jan. 18                    Union College, Lincoln, Neb.


Jan. 27                    RANDALL UNIVERSITY, MANHATTAN

Jan. 30                    Calvary University, Belton, Mo.

Feb. 2                       EMMAUS BIBLE COLLEGE, MANHATTAN


Feb. 6                       Barclay College, Haviland, Ks.

Feb. 9                       Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Mo.

Feb. 10                    Baptist Bible College, Springfield, Mo.


Feb. 22-24            Southwest Region Tourney, Joplin, Mo.

March 8-10          National Tourney, Greenville, S.C.

MCC Scoreboard

1/22/2021 | Mens Basketball vs. Emmaus Bible College | W, 86-74 
1/21/2021 | Mens Basketball Faith Baptist Bible College | W, 92-66 
1/19/2021 | Womens Basketball at Calvary University | W, 63-58 
1/16/2021 | Womens Basketball at Central Christian College of the Bible | L, 64-60 
1/13/2021 | Womens Basketball vs. Southwestern Adventist | W, 76-45