Four new coaches will be on the sidelines this year in three different schools. Stevensville has a new coach for both the boys’ and girl’s basketball program. Florence has new boys’ coach and Corvallis has a new girls’ coach.
Joey Wark has come full circle in Stevensville. A graduate of the class of 1995, he takes over from his mentor, Keith Chambers. He played for Chambers while in high school. In fact, Wark also played for both of his assistant coaches too. Terry Rosin has stayed on as Wark’s assistant and was one of his coaches in high school. Jack Filcher will be handling the freshmen this year and he too, was one of Wark’s coaches.
“Those two have forgotten more than I’ll ever know,” said Wark. “But they are a lot of fun and we work well together.”
Don’t look for a lot of changes in play from the Yellowjackets who are the returning state champions. With three All-State players and a strong supporting cast, Wark is working to fine tune, not reinvent, the wheel. He’s working on the ‘one team – one family’ concept.
When asked about the pressure of taking over a state champion team, he acknowledged there is an expectation throughout the town. He said he’s just focusing on the team and getting them to play one game at a time.
Joe Nisly is the new girls’ coach at Stevensville. Unlike Wark, Nisly has only two returning starters and only a couple more players with much varsity experience. Gone are Alycia Sims (now playing for the Lady Griz) and Bailey Vercruyssen (now playing for UM Western). Kyla Paulsen, who was expected to play this year, re-injured a knee and opted out of playing. That leaves Kayla Peterson and Carly Vercruyssen to anchor a very young team.
Nisly, who graduated from Corvallis and then was an assistant under Dave Bradshaw at Corvallis, came to Stevensville last year. He said his goal is to make sure everyone is involved and playing as hard as they can. Bill Fulbright and Andrea Mooney are his assistants.
Zane Warnken is the new girls basketball coach at Corvallis. He has been teaching at Corvallis for four years. Prior to that, he and his family spent two years in Korea teaching. Warnken was at Victor for three years and was the head football coach then. He is a native of Montana and grew up in Superior. He played football for Western and then graduated from the University of Montana.
Warnken is working to jumpstart the program at Corvallis. He said he has some strong players coming up as well as some experienced players right now. Andy Knapp and Shylah Poling are his assistants.
Boone Nelson takes over the reins at Florence, replacing veteran coach Sam Baerlocher. Nelson is also a fourth grade teacher at Florence. He grew up in Helena and graduated from Carol College. Nelson taught in Colstrip for five years. Last year he was in Thompson Falls and coached there also.
Nelson said the Western B Division is a tough division but thinks his players will compete well. He said he plans on keeping lots of players involved and will run eight or nine players deep.
Joining Nelson on the bench is veteran Tom Demmons who has been an assistant at Florence for the last several years. Also joining Nelson are brothers Evin and Kiel Hanson, both graduates of Florence as well as assistants for the last few years. This continuity will help the Falcons said Nelson. “We’re not going to reinvent the wheel this year.”