When you take a basketball program that had won just one game two seasons ago and turn it into a state quarterfinalist, you are certain to attract attention from other schools hoping that you can do the same for them.
Booneville boys’ basketball coach Tim Goers, having pulled off that exact feat, got attention, specifically from 5A-West member Vilonia. The Eagles had struggled in the past few years, with no winning seasons since 2007-08, and won only one conference game last season.
Goers interviewed for the job, and was accepted by the Vilonia school board on May 23.
"I got a call from an old coaching friend that is now the athletic director at Vilonia, and he said enough good things for me to talk to him," Goers said in an interview before the Vilonia board met. "I went up there three times, and wanted to make sure it was the right fit."
Goers wanted to emphasize that he was not running away from Booneville, but going to a new opportunity.
"The relationships we have made in Booneville are great and will be hard to leave," said Goers. "I want to let the community know we love this place and wouldn’t leave unless the situation was good." He added that Vilonia also presents new opportunities for his wife Amy and sons Grant and Mason.
In his first stint at Booneville he turned around a three-win team and within two years guided them to two consecutive regional tournament bids. In 2005-06 the Bearcats went 15-15, including an 8-2 stretch that propelled them into the regionals. The next season, the Cats got off to a 12-3 start and went on to finish 18-12, advancing to the regional tournament again.
Goers left for the first time after that season to return to his native Illinois. After a year at Springfield Southeast, he came back to Arkansas for a two-year stint at Ozark before returning to the Bearcats for the 2011-12 season. In that season, the Bearcats came up just short of a regional bid, losing by five points to Waldron on the Bulldogs’ home floor in the game that decided one of the participants.
But last season turned into something special. One could see good things coming when the Cats played defending 4A champion Clarksville a very tough game. Booneville won only three conference games but came alive in the conference tournament that was hosted by Booneville. After beating Dover in the first round, they used a big third quarter to turn the tables on Waldron, gaining the Cats’ first regional berth since Goers’ first departure.
And the Bearcats decided not to stop there. They upset 1-4A champion Farmington in the first round at Maumelle, in so doing putting Booneville boys’ basketball into the state tournament for the first time in school history. They gave Maumelle fits in the next round before losing, but then beat Lincoln in the third-place game. This put them opposite Malvern in the first round of the state tournament, where the Cats rallied to beat the Leopards. Booneville then took the lead against Dollarway in the first period of the quarterfinal game before the Cards took control.
Goers leaves having won 61 games at Booneville, far more than any other Booneville boys’ coach in recent memory. And he stressed that he will have good memories from Booneville. "Bearcat Nation will always have a place in my heart," said Goers.