Bells makes baseball, girls hoops changes

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat

Several more changes are coming to the Bells athletic department but much like the biggest one to take place, the school district made quick replacements.

Heading into next season both the baseball and girls basketball programs will have new head coaches in addition to the domino effect for softball and volleyball.

Head baseball coach Kent Craig is stepping away from coaching while girls athletic coordinator and girls basketball coach Chris Arledge is leaving to take an administrative position at Winnsboro, where he will also assist with the girls basketball program.

Bells elevated assistant coach Jordan Carter to lead the baseball program while S&S head coach Rodney Ross was hired to oversee girls basketball.

Lisa Johnson, who took over as the girls athletic coordinator with her move from head volleyball coach to head softball coach, has a vacancy to fill in her old spot.

Craig’s decision comes after the Panthers were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend. Bells pushed its Class 3A Region II area round series with Grandview to three games before bowing out.

He said he made the move, which will have him in a teacher-only capacity at Bells, to spend more time with his family during his daughter’s final three years in high school.

He has led the program the past three seasons and compiled a 50-26 record with a pair of playoff appearances.

This past spring Bells tied Pottsboro and Gunter for the District 11-3A title and finished 24-10 after losing to Grandview.

The team had an 8-5 record and was about to start district play last year when the season was cancelled to the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019 the Panthers went 18-11 and lost in the bi-district round in a deciding Game 3 to Pottsboro.

Craig came to Bells from Paris North Lamar and steps away after 19 years as a head coach with stops at Hughes Springs, Franklin, Newton, Trinity and Commerce. He has a 346-119 overall record and led Hughes Springs to a Class 2A state runner-up finish in 2013 with a 36-2 record.

Carter has been an assistant with the Panthers for the past four years.

Arledge had a 76-42 record in four seasons and the Lady Panthers made the playoffs each time, including this past year as Bells went 16-10 overall and tied for second in District 11-3A with a bi-district loss against Emory Rains.

In 2019-20, the program made the region quarterfinals after tying Howe for the District 10-3A title. The Lady Panthers finished 28-7 after beating Gunter and Lone Oak in the playoffs before a loss to Mineola in the third round.

Bells finished 21-10 with a first-round loss against Pottsboro in 2018-19.

In Arledge’s first season leading the Lady Panthers, they went 11-15 and were the third seed for the 2A playoffs, winning a tie-breaker, before losing to Era in the opening round.

He had previously been at Bells as the head boys coach, leaving to take over at Woden for the 2008-09 season. But he quickly returned to the area and spent the better part of a decade here on the girls side — going from Whitesboro, to Gainesville to Cooper to North Lamar and then a two-year stint at Slaton before returning to Bells.

Arledge was a three-time all-state player at Krum, leading the Bobcats to 2A state titles in 1996, when he was the MVP of the state tournament and the Class 2A Player of the Year, and 1998.

In four years at S&S, Ross led the Lady Rams to a pair of playoff appearances, including one in his first season that ended a nearly four-decade drought.

S&S hadn’t been to the postseason since 1981 when it beat Gunter in a play-in game to get there at the end of 2017-18 campaign.

The Lady Rams went 13-20 after a bi-district loss to Leonard, a major improvement over a 3-28 season prior to Ross’ arrival.

This past season the Lady Rams made a late push, ending the season with five straight wins, to earn not only a playoff berth but a tie for third place in District 10-3A before finishing with a 12-15 record after a bi-district loss to Grandview.

Ross was named one of the two 1A-4A assistant coaches for the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-Star Game which will be in July.

Ross was the head coach at Class 4A Palestine for two seasons before arriving at S&S and went 29-34 with a pair of playoff appearances.

He served as the associate head coach at Corsicana for two seasons before taking over at Palestine. Prior to that Ross had been the head boys coach at Cooper and Celeste in addition to time as an assistant at Ennis and Lake Highlands.