Former Blue Dragon basketball great John Ontjes became the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball program’s sixth head coach on Aug. 9, 2007.
In just his second season, Ontjes led the Blue Dragons to their first Region VI championship in 32 years. Now nine years into his tenure, Hutchinson women’s basketball is among the nation’s elite. Ontjes has now led the HCC women’s program to five Jayhawk West championships in the last six seasons. five Region VI championships – winning four consecutive from 2012 to 2016 – three NJCAA national runner-up finishes (2012, 2014, 2015) and a national tournament third-place finish in 2013.
Ontjes’ coaching record is now 254-60 overall, including an astounding 115-30 mark in Jayhawk Conference games. Ontjes is Hutchinson’s all-time women’s basketball coaching wins leader and leader in winning percentage (80.9 percent)
Ontjes reached 100 wins (119 games) faster than any previous HCC coach. He posted the second-most wins (40) in his first 50 games at HCC. He was also the second fastest to 50 wins (62 games).
Ontjes has been named the Jayhawk West coach of the year five times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016) and the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association’s Junior College coach of the year four times (2009, 2012, 2013, 2015). In the summer of 2015, Ontjes was named the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission’s Women’s College Basketball Coach of the Year.
Before Ontjes’ arrival before the 2007-08 season, HCC women’s basketball had never had an All-American. HCC now has nine NJCAA All-Americans. In the past five seasons, HCC women’s basketball has produced three Jayhawk West Freshmen of the Year and three Jayhawk West Most Valuable Players.
HCC has posted its only six 30-win seasons under Ontjes.
Ontjes has made the Blue Dragon program a stepping stone to Division I. Ontjes has helped several players springboard to the next level. Ontjes has now has 14 Division I signees and 32 overall four-year signees in his first eight seasons.
Ontjes’ first season in with the Blue Dragons (2007-08) was a successful one, going 24-8, finishing third in the Jayhawk Conference Western Division and advancing to the Region VI quarterfinals. The 24 victories tied for the third-most wins in a season in program history. Ontjes’ first team also produced the program’s first All-American (Amanda Fessenden, honorable mention).
The 2008-09 season proved to be a foreshadow of what direction the program was moving in. Ontjes guided the HCC women’s basketball team to its first Region VI championship since 1977, going 31-6 overall. HCC went 13-3 in the Jayhawk West, tying for second and tied a school record for league wins. Individually, Heather Robben set the freshman scoring record and earned NJCAA All-America honorable mention honors. Ariella McGhee broke the single-season and freshman rebounding records and was the Region VI Tournament MVP.
The 2009-10 Blue Dragons went 29-4, losing to eventual Region VI champion Labette in the semifinals of the Region VI Tournament. HCC finished second in the Jayhawk West with 14 league wins and wound up ranked 15th in the final poll. Sophomore Heather Robben became the program’s first preseason NJCAA All-American and finished as a third-team All-American. Robben became the program’s career scoring leader and Ariella McGhee became the program’s career rebounding leader.
The 2010-11 HCC women posted a 30-win season for just the second time in program history, going 30-3. HCC won its first Jayhawk West championship (15-1) for the first time since 1980 and advanced all the way to the Region VI championship game. The Blue Dragons reached as high as No. 5 in the NJCAA national rankings in 2010. Ontjes was named the 2011 Jayhawk West Coach of the Year and HCC swept the league’s top honors. Freshman Jackie Patterson was a second-team All-American as well as the Jayhawk West MVP and Freshman of the Year, first-team All-Region VI and the Region VI Tournament MVP. Freshman guard Alysse Barlow was also a first-team all-conference and all-region selection. The 2011 Blue Dragons also set a team scoring record after averaging 76.0 points per game. Also for the second time in program history, the Blue Dragons were the top defensive team in the nation, allowing a scant 49.0 points per game.
Then came 2011-12 … an unprecedented season in Blue Dragon women’s basketball history. HCC had an undefeated Jayhawk West championship, a Region VI crown and the best finish in team history, finishing as the 2012 NJCAA national runner-up. Ontjes took the 2011-12 Blue Dragons to new heights. After an undefeated non-conference season, HCC ran the table in the Jayhawk West, going 16-0 to win the league for the second-straight season. HCC defeated No. 20 Independence 43-41 in the Region VI championship game and then defeated Meridian, No. 10 Walters State and No. 3 Central Arizona to earn a spot in its first national championship game, winning a team-record 36th-straight game. No. 1 Trinity Valley defeated HCC 69-55 in a battle of undefeated teams. HCC was ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA national poll for most of the season.
In addition to the postseason awards won by Ontjes, Patterson and Patrick, Chelsea Small and Alysse Barlow were named all-conference team and all-Region. The Lady Dragons also set the team scoring record at 77.4 points per game and was eighth in the nation in team defense at 50.8 points per game.
Winners of a third-straight Jayhawk West title in 2012-13, HCC went 36-2 en route to a second-straight Region VI title. Victories over No. 25 ASA and No. 5 Northwest Florida State advanced the Blue Dragons into the NJCAA Final Four for the third time under Ontjes. After dropping a semifinal matchup to Central Arizona, HCC finished third in the nation in 2013 with a thrilling 63-61 victory over No. 2 Gulf Coast State.
HCC made it four-straight conference titles and three-consecutive Region VI crowns in 2013-14 with an undefeated regular season. The only loss in a 35-1 mark came in a 65-46 loss in the national title game to No. 1 Trinity Valley. Jamie Patrick, who became the program’s career scoring leader, was a second-team All-American and Kalani Purcell was an honorable mention All-American. Purcell was also the Jayhawk West Freshman of the Year.
Ontjes is one of the most recognizable Blue Dragons in school history.
An all-state athlete at Nickerson High School, Ontjes played for Blue Dragon coach Steve McClain in 1992 and 1993. As a Blue Dragon, Ontjes’ teams were a combined 56-12. He ranks No. 1 in career assists (396) and No. 2 in career steals (145). He also ranks first in single-season assists (230).
In 2005, Ontjes was voted by the fans onto the 75th Anniversary all-time Blue Dragon men’s basketball team.
Ontjes took over the HCC women’s basketball program after a successful two-year run as head girls’ basketball coach at Hutchinson High School. In just two seasons, he took a Salthawk girls program with very little varsity experience at the beginning and quickly molded it into a state tournament contender.
Hutch High went 10-11 in Ontjes’ first season in 2005 using mainly underclassmen. In 2006, the Salthawks qualified for the Class 5A state tournament, finishing third with a 19-6 record.
While playing at OU, Ontjes was named the Big Eight Newcomer of the Year after the 1994 season. He led OU averaging 6.5 assists per game, seventh on OU's single-season assist list. As a senior, Ontjes averaged 6.8 assists per game, which was fifth on the OU single-season assist list. He was named All-Big Eight honorable mention and to the Big Eight All-Underrated team.
Before becoming the HHS girls head coach, Ontjes served for five seasons on Phil Anderson’s Hutchinson High boys’ basketball staff, both as the freshman head coach and varsity assistant. Hutch High won the Class 6A state championship in 2001 and was the 6A state runner-up in 2002.
After completing his eligibility at Oklahoma, Ontjes served as a graduate assistant for head coach Kelvin Sampson in 1995 and 1996. His main duties were practice organization, monitoring academic progress, film exchange and on-campus recruiting.
From 1997 to 1999, Ontjes was an assistant varsity football and basketball coach at Nickerson School. In 1999 he took a teaching position and joined Anderson’s staff at Hutchinson High.
Ontjes earned his Associate of Arts degree from Hutchinson Community College in 1993 and his Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from the University of Oklahoma in 1996. He earned his Kansas Education certificate from Sterling College in 1999.
Ontjes and his wife, Celeste, have two children: Max and McKenzie.