NOKOMIS — Last season was an important one for Nokomis boys basketball coach Steve Kimbro.
His Redskins team advanced to the Class 1A sectional championship and he surpassed 800 wins over his long career. It was also when he determined that the 2019-2020 season would be his final season as Nokomis' coach.
It was a decision several seasons in the making and one he didn't make alone, consulting with his long-time assistant coach and Nokomis baseball coach Brian Pesko.
"We've talked about it for a few years. He's got one more year — next year is his last as far as teaching — and I've been out of teaching for nine years," Kimbro said. "He might consider staying on as a baseball coach and that would be between him and the school, but we talked it over and it just seemed like the right time to do it."
In his years at Nokomis, Kimbro has had less than a handful of assistants.
"Brian has been my assistant for 24 years now. Next year will be my 39th season and I've really only had three assistant coaches. Victor Evans was my assistant for the first 14 years and then Brian came in and he has been my assistant except for one year when he had the opportunity to coach at Hillsboro. I've been fortunate to have consistency."
Consistency has also been the name of Kimbro's game at Nokomis. The Redskins have had 15 consecutive winning seasons and since Kimbro took over for the 1981-82 season his team is 816-297 with a .733 winning percentage.
Kimbro, also a Nokomis graduate, has won 15 regional championships and made four state tournament appearances, including a second-place finish in 2008 and third place in 2013.
Passing 800 victories last season, making him the fifth winningest coach in Illinois boys high school basketball history, was something he had his eye on reaching.
"Oh, yeah, it was something that once you get close enough, you think how long is it going to take? I couldn't quit without getting that accomplishment. It was something that I wanted," he said.
Last season also began a home-and-home series with Lincoln High School, coached by Kimbro's friend and another Nokomis alum, Neil Alexander. The Railers beat the Redskins 63-38 in Nokomis, so they will be searching for some revenge when they head to Lincoln next season.
"With Coach Alexander and I having grown up together, that's something I think we both decided that we had gotten to the point in our careers where didn't know how much time we had. Looking down the road, he's got 800-and-some wins and it made it made a special evening for us as kind of like a homecoming for Nokomis and Fillmore. We've got one more reunion game with each other," Kimbro said.
The Redskins return three starters from last year's team and they should be contenders again.
"Carter Sabol will be a senior and he's a 6-8 kid and he's obviously going to be the one and when he wants to dominate, he's got tools to do that. Alex Tosetti will be a senior next year and he was our starting guard and then we've got (junior) Evan Herpstreith who is probably gonna be our point guard and our main ball handler," Kimbro said. "Those three are solid. After that we won't be without talent but we're going to have to take some time for the chemistry to come together."
With 11 more victories next season, Kimbro will move to No. 4 on the IHSA coaching win list, passing Dick Van Scyoc from Peoria Manual. Each of Kimbro's victories would be difficult without the support he has received from his coaches, players and the community.
"I can't say enough about the people that work with me who have helped prepare the kids and the community that has backed me," he said. "The kids have always given whatever it has taken to be successful. It has worked out well. I can't complain."