SHEPHERD — One of the winningest coaches in Montana girls basketball history recently called it a career.
Shepherd Hall of Famer Bill Lepley told MTN Sports that the timing just felt right.
“Thirty-five years, that’s quite a bit of time,” Lepley reflected. “It’s a stage of my life where it’s time to try to do something else before it’s too late.”
He did his best work late.
Lepley surpassed 500 career victories back in 2016 with one of his best teams ever. Those Fillies suffered their first loss of the season in the Class B state semifinal round to Malta. That was nine years after Malta beat the Fillies in Shepherd’s only title-game appearance.
“It’s tough. I thought we were the better team in ’07. I think nine out of 10 times we would have beaten them, but they got us that night,” Lepley recalled.
Lepley never stopped working though, a trait he owes to a decision he made when he first arrived at Shepherd.
“This was the first time I had coached the girls, and I think after the first couple seasons, I decided I wanted to stick with the girls,” he said. “It just seems they sure work a lot harder and listen a little better. You’re dealing more with emotions but not such big egos.”
One of his favorite players, Becky (Jacobs) Anderson, came back as an assistant and will take over after years sharing the bench. The only remaining question is, what happens to the legendary blue towel Lepley would clutch during most every contest and present to each game’s MVP?
“I guess that’s up to Becky, whether or not she wants to continue that or do something like that,” Lepley said. “It’s something little, but it’s something special that the kids have really enjoyed over the years. But hopefully we’ll keep it going.”