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Saturday, March 2, 2024
March 2, 2024

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Tim Martinez: Life won’t be slowing down for Bill Bakamus after basketball

High school sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

Like he’s done for more than four decades, Bill Bakamus coached a basketball game last Saturday.

And after his Mark Morris squad beat Ridgefield, the coach climbed into the bleachers to do a post-game interview for the radio broadcast.

Then he climbed down onto the floor and sat down for an interview with a television station.

Finally, he sat down for a quick chat with a couple of lowly print reporters.

All the while, out on the court, his family waited — his wife, his kids, his grandkids and friends. They all waited for more than a half-hour to go for a post-game meal.

Soon, instead of his family waiting on him, Bakamus can start waiting on his family.

Or maybe he’s already been doing that.

“You know, I have this whole thing,” Bakamus said. “If you’re 10 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, you’re forgotten.”

Then, he added with a chuckle, “I have to run that by my wife frequently, because she’s still working on that after 39 years of marriage.”

Regardless of the timing, Bill Bakamus won’t soon be forgotten in Longview.

After 32 seasons as head coach of the Monarchs — and 41 seasons of coaching high school basketball — Bakamus announced last week that this will be his final season of coaching.

“You heard right, I’m done,” Bakamus confirmed on Saturday. “Honestly, I could do this 10 more years. I could do it easily. But I’m 63 and I’ve done this for 41 years. … It’s time.”

Bakamus was a multi-sport standout at Morton High School, and then went on to play college basketball at the University of Puget Sound.

At age 23, he got his first coaching job at Coulee-Hartline High School in central Washington. After one year there, he came closer to home to coach, leading the program at Toledo for eight seasons.

Then in June 1992, he was hired as the head coach at Mark Morris, replacing Dave Denny.

In the years since, he has piled up quite the legacy.

Bakamus has compiled a 684-305 record. He was elected to the Washington State Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010. During his time at Mark Morris, he got to coach his son Rem, who went on to play at Gonzaga. Rem Bakamus is now the director of player development for the University of Arizona men’s basketball team.

Bill Bakamus has coached the Monarchs to 26 league titles in 31 seasons, and after a 71-38 win over Ridgefield last Saturday, the Monarchs are on track to collect a 27th league title.

And as it has been for the past 32 seasons, Bakamus’ focus is on his players.

“I like where we are,” he said. “I think we’re lacking a pretty key ingredient in Carson Bogner, who was a starter. But what it’s done is it’s made everybody raise their game, which is healthy. So I think we’re on track on the right steps. There’s going to be some things that you switch around for the second time in league and once you get to the playoffs. … So you always have to be throwing in some new ideas, new strategies to keep the mind fresh. More than anything it is staying fresh mentally.”

And after the season ends, hopefully the first week in March in Yakima, Bakamus will be ready to turn to the next chapter in his life, spending more time with his family.

“I’ve got so much stuff going on,” he said. “Look at this. Look at these guys.”

Bakamus pointed to his grandkids running on the court.

“It never ends,” he said. “Whether they’re wrestling with me or whatever, I feel good about that chapter. I’m super passionate for the next step.”


Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator at The Columbian. He can be reached at tim.martinez@columbian.com, 360-735-4538 or follow @360TMart on Instagram and X (Twitter).