Chad Kimberley can be forgiven for keeping a close eye on reports of road conditions in the state’s passes today. His starting lineup depends a great deal on the roads staying open and clear.
“We’re supposed to play Granger in Yakima at the SunDome Saturday,” said Kimberley, the first-year Freeman girls’ basketball coach. “But Freeman is playing in the state championship football game Saturday. A couple of our seniors came to me and asked if they could go and I told them ‘Of course you can go – this is something that you need to experience.’
“They’re going to go to the game at the Tacoma Dome and then drive back to Yakima to play basketball.”
Kimberley admits that he’s hoping Freeman dominates its 1 p.m. game with Mount Baker – a blowout means his players might leave early. Overtime?
“Oh, man, I can just see us having to start our game with just five players and no bench,” he laughed.
Kimberley takes over a program that has enjoyed unprecedented success over the past five seasons. While the Scotties missed playing in the state tournament a year ago, they reached the finals three straight seasons, winning the school’s first and only state championships with back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.
Ashlee Taylor-Nimri, herself a former Freeman player, stepped down last spring after five seasons after giving birth to her second child.
“She just decided that with two little ones, she just couldn’t devote the time to it that she wanted to,” Freeman athletic director Brian Parisotto said.
Kimberley most recently coached girls’ basketball at Valley Christian School and still teaches there.
He insists his primary job is to not mess things up.
“The cupboard definitely isn’t bare, that’s for sure,” he said. “There’s nothing that needs to be rebuilt here at all. I’m not changing things much. We’re going to play at a faster tempo than they did before. We don’t have some of the size we’ve had in past years, so we’re going to concentrate more on playing tough defense and pushing the ball up the floor.
“We have five players who can all handle the ball, so we’re not going to concentrate on feeding the ball to a point guard, per se. We want whoever comes down with the rebound or gets the turnover to be able to push the ball up the floor and start the offense.”
Making the transition to a new coach after having had a great deal of success is no easy task, Kimberley said. He credits his four seniors with making it work as the season begins.
“I have four seniors and they’ve bought into what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Katie Vold and Sierra McGarity both are returning starters and Mikaela Pilant and Haley Burke are both letter winners.
“They’ve all made the transition work.”
Those seniors, too, are the coach’s primary scouting network.
“I’m really familiar with what Freeman has done over the last few years, but when it comes to the league, I don’t know much at all about the Northeast A League. My JV coach has been around for a while and I’m relying on my seniors to fill me in.
“Of course, the thing I most frequently hear is ‘Oh, coach, we can beat them pretty easily.’ That’s not a lot of help.”
The football team’s run to the state championship game has messed up the early season schedule. Games with East Valley and Cheney already have been rescheduled.
“I’m hoping we don’t have to make too many more changes,” Kimberley said. “I’d hate to get backed up and have to play four games a week in January.”