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By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Girls getting to know new hoops coach Bomberger ahead of Friday's season opener

 

November 28, 2018

Jaryd Cline

New Goldendale head coach Konrad Bomberger works with senior Lene Riggers during Monday's practice in the Goldendale High School gym.

The Goldendale girls basketball team will look a little different than it has the past couple of years.

The 2018-19 version of the Timberwolves will have a nearly new starting five along with a new man running the show.

Konrad Bomberger, who's been a fixture at Goldendale basketball games since moving to town close to a decade ago and a lifelong hoops enthusiast, is stepping into the head coaching role after former coach Mike Plum stepped down earlier this season after leading the Wolves for four seasons.

Bomberger, who currently works for the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, has been coaching youth basketball teams, setting up hometown tournaments, and taking teams to games and competitions out of town for years in Goldendale.

When the opportunity arose earlier this year when Plum resigned, Bomberger jumped on the opportunity to not only test himself, but see if he could make an impact both on the court and in the lives of the players.

"I've always thought it would be fun to challenge myself and see what coaching would be like at five days (a week)," Bomberger said.

Coaching youth teams, they would practice a couple days a week, but moving up to coaching the high school team, he knew there would be more games, practices, and more of a commitment. But he's more than ready for the challenge, having been around and played the game for his entire life.

"I love basketball," Bomberger said. "I love the basketball environment ... Loved what it did for me and the work ethic (it instilled). And then also the places it took me. Playing college basketball, I got to play in some amazing environments all over the country."

Bomberger graduated from Union High School in Oregon, just east of La Grande, which is an Oregon Class 2A school and about the size of Sherman County. After playing for a year at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, he transferred home to Eastern Oregon University, now a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in La Grande, where he played and went to school for three years.

He played against Boise State in the BSU Pavilion, which seats nearly 13,000 fans and also played at Idaho State, a team that's made the NCAA Division I Tournament 11 times.

"It's cool to go and do that stuff," Bomberger said. "You get a taste of what big school, D-one basketball is like."

He also remembered playing one year in the pre Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. Filled with top Division I teams and the DII University of Anchorage, Bomberger and the Mountaineers matched up against Anchorage for their prep game against a Seawolves team that is always among the top Division II teams in the country.

"Where basketball has taken me is why I still want to be involved," Bomberger said. "And there's nothing like seeing the kids progress from where they're at now to a year later, six months later, two months later, how much they've improved. I like to get involved in that and seeing that and their success."

So far in the first few weeks of practice, the girls, although there still is a lot to work on, have made it easy for Bomberger.

"I have a group of girls that are hungry to work hard and get after it," Bomberger said, "which is what any coach wants."

Two seniors in Lene Riggers and Kelli Bighorn (both guards) return to the squad this season with varsity experience, while Joellene Sargeant and Crysta Warren (both post players) round out this year's four-person senior class.

They have some big shoes to fill after Allison Gilliam, Aimee Bartkowski, and Sierra Plum graduated after having big roles on the team for the last couple seasons.

The four seniors this year, along with four returners and five first-year varsity players fill out the varsity squad and are ready for Friday's opening game in Mattawa for a 6 p.m. tipoff with South Central Athletic Conference East opponent Wahluke.

Junior Abby Hedges and sophomore Tiana Watson are back at guard spots after spending some time on varsity last season along with juniors Ashley Bartkowski and Delaney Peters. Both Peters and Bartkowski played a lot of minutes last year and both should be important post presences.

Juniors Maddie Gilk and Courtney Tatro, sophomore Leslie Smith, and freshmen Sara Hiebert and Payton Sheridan round out the 13-person squad as varsity newcomers.

Saturday jamboree

The girls are fresh off returning from their first action of the season, Saturday's jamboree in Toppenish where they faced off with league rival Zillah and the Class 2A Toppenish Wildcats.

It was a somewhat short jamboree where they matched up for two 10-minute halves against both Toppenish and Zillah and although the team struggled at times,

"I was happy with it because I saw what we need to start working on," Bomberger said. "It gave me a good gauge of what we need to start focusing on and working more on in practice."

John Longfellow

Ashley Bartkowski shoots inside during last season's opening game against Mabton.

One of the main things Bomberger and the girls will be working on is how to deal with the constant barrage of defensive pressure that many of the teams throughout the SCAC employ. They saw a lot of Zillah's and Toppenish's full court press on Saturday and Bomberger knows that consistently cracking the press is a big step to success in the SCAC West.

"Both teams pressed us the entire game," Bomberger said. "That's just how our league runs. You have to be able to handle that pressure and see that.

"They're good teams. They're disciplined teams. They can get after you," Bomberger added of the Leopards and Wildcats.

"We have to keep working," Bomberger said. "That's the biggest thing I learned from this weekend. We need to turn the intensity up at practice and then really start pushing so that we can compete come gameday."

 

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