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Blake Conley resigns as Kingston Buccaneers basketball coach
KINGSTON — When Blake Conley steps onto the hardwood this year, it won’t be with the Kingston Buccaneers.
Conley recently accepted a teaching and coaching position at Union High School. It’s an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“It was definitely really hard to leave the kids and the community and the school and everything we did there,” Conley said. However, he could not pass up the chance to teach and coach in a high school such as Union, he said.
With the move to Camas, Conley also leaves his teaching position at Chief Kitsap Academy. He enjoyed the small class sizes and seeing students go from struggling to shining in school.
“I’m going to miss my basketball players, but also the kids with Chief Kitsap,” Conley said.
Conley will teach English and, in the winter, coach boys basketball. Conley succeeds Maco Hamilton as head coach at Union.
Conley said the Evergreen School District’s emphasis on athletics and the direction the district is headed are what drew him there.
Under Conley’s direction, the Bucs program turned around after a rough startup to take third at the 2A State Tournament in 2011 and 2012. Conley estimated his record as head coach was 74-32.
He’s someone who understands the game, former assistant coach Dave Cox said. Conley went into each game knowing the opponents’ offensive and defensive tendencies, Cox said. Coach Conley always had a game plan.
“He has great skills at breaking down the game,” Cox said.
Conley will bring his coaching skills to the Union Titans, who took first in the 3A State Tournament in 2010, and third in the 4A State Tournament in 2012.
There are high expectations for Titans basketball, Conley said. Conley hopes to add to what former coach Hamilton did, while bringing in his own basketball philosophy.
Cox described the Bucs’ philosophy as “old school.” The Bucs were asked to keep their composure and be good winners, which meant no mocking, no chest bumping, he said.
It’s still uncertain who will take over as head coach of the Bucs. Cox was asked if he would do it; he said his work schedule would not mesh with being a head coach.
Cox is hopeful for the next wave of Buccaneer basketball players, however. During summer camps, there was a lot of Kingston talent, he said.
“It will be a good program for a few years with the right coach,” Cox said.
Though Conley will now call Union his team, he won’t forget the relationships he formed at Kingston High School. He’s still in contact with a lot of former players and said one of the things he’ll miss the most is the practices. Of course, he will also remember all the wins in four years and the trips to the state tournaments in the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“The trips to the state tournament — that’s something you don’t forget,” Conley said. “That’s a very rare thing …”
Conley will have a chance to coach in a new venue during the state tournaments: the Tacoma Dome, where 3A and 4A teams compete.
Though he can’t coach until November, Conley will try and build relationships with potential basketball players while he also gets adjusted to Union.
Conley believes the Bucs will continue to be a successful team.
“I have faith that the Kingston program will be in good hands,” he said.