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New Goldendale hoops coach David Stelljes ready to get season underway

 

November 29, 2017

John Longfellow

Goldendale coach David Stelljes instructs the junior varsity team during a home game last year against Cle Elum. Stelljes began coaching at Goldendale in 2006 and has now coached all three levels of basketball - C Squad, junior varsity, and varsity - at Goldendale.

Last year, the Goldendale boys basketball team came up just short of advancing to the South Central Athletic Conference District Tournament, finishing fifth in the league's west side while only the top four teams advance.

However, new Goldendale head boys coach David Stelljes believes this year's edition of the Timberwolves can break the spell and advance to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

"That's our goal," Stelljes said. "Our goal is to make that step to district playoffs. So that's what we have our eyes set on."

Early in the first few weeks of practice, Stelljes has been impressed with the tough and gritty work the boys have been putting in. He said that they've turned up the intensity from years past and are a lot more conditioned.

"They're putting in the effort," Stelljes added. "There's been a ton of conditioning and they're working hard at it."

Aside from the running, the team has been hammering out a few details on a new man offense. It isn't quite there yet he said, but he is excited to see how the team reacts with an opponent on the court.

The team is in action for the first time today, traveling down the grade for the Klickitat Jamboree, which tips off at 5:30 p.m. Goldendale will join Klickwood (Klickitat and Glenwood combined) and Lyle-Wishram at the jamboree. Each team plays each other once in a short, 10 minute contest. It will be the first live action for all teams involved.

"I'm pretty excited because I want to try and go against somebody else," Stelljes said. "When you're practicing, the defense knows what you're going to do. So it would be nice to go up against someone who doesn't know what you're going to do."

"Kind of have a little eye opener. A little practice run before Saturday," he added.

After Wednesday, Goldendale is at home against old SCAC West rival Mabton. The Timberwolves opened up last season on the road against the Vikings, coming up just short in the 50-49 loss.

Tipoff for Saturday's home opener against the Vikings is set for 7:30 p.m.

Although the team lost a handful of seniors from last year's team (Jess Beierle, Will Bostick, Grant Gunkel, Jacob Hiebert, Jeramiah Minor, and Edgar Vega) the Timberwolves have a balanced mix of returning and new players to the varsity program that Stelljes is excited to see in action.

Alex Mains, Jacob Bischoff, Conner Doubravsky, Justin Wells, Dylan Denning, and William Finn lead another big group of seniors for the Timberwolves. Lane Siebert is the lone junior right now on the varsity and will handle duties at the guard spot, while sophomores Corbin Bland, Curtis Kayser, and Cameron Mains, all over six feet tall, provide a big, young frontcourt.

With the good balance of older and younger players combined with the willingness of the group to go the extra mile, districts certainly is within reach for the Wolves this year, but there is still work to do.

"We still have a lot of growing to do," Stelljes said. "I talked to the boys, we have a lot of stairs to climb to get to where we want to be.

"We're putting in the time, we're trying to hammer out the details and get them all on the same page," he added. "This group can be the foundation of what the new era of Goldendale basketball can be built upon."

Leading the pack

Stelljes graduated from Fruitland High School in Idaho in 2000, where he remembers banging with future Gonzaga forward Cory Violette in the Idaho state basketball playoffs.

He continued his education at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, graduating in 2005 before accepting a job to be the new elementary school physical education teacher. He landed in Goldendale in August 2006 and has been here since.

He started coaching that winter, leading a ragtag group of freshmen that included the author of this story on the C Squad team. It was a memorable first game coaching for Stelljes on a December night in Royal City. Even though the C Squad lost on a night where 2010 GHS graduate Trevor Fields hit nine 3-pointers and I shot 5-for-16 from the free throw line, Stelljes' coaching journey was underway.

He was also active coaching off the court shortly after moving to Goldendale. He volunteered as an assistant cross country coach for one year after moving to Goldendale and also is currently the head middle school track and field coach. He also was the high school track and field leader for four years before taking over at the middle school.

Jaryd Cline

Goldendale's Conner Doubravsky finishes down low during the team's home game against Highland. Doubravsky is one of six seniors on this year's team.

A few years after guiding the C Squad, Stelljes moved up and coached the program's junior varsity team starting during the 2014-15 season. This year's senior class were freshmen that year and were coached by Stelljes on JV.

Stelljes is ready to put in action some of the things he's learned in his decade of coaching in Goldendale.

"One thing I've learned is game management, clock management type situations," he said.

He's put the team through various scenarios at practice, such as last-second shot situations and out-of-bounds plays underneath the basket with only a few seconds on the clock.

Something else he's improved on is staying calm and collected as a coach in a game that can be filled with many ups and downs.

"I've learned that you have to try and keep a level head and not let the emotions of the game suck you in," he added.

 

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