Bayfield High School girls basketball senior point guard Tymbree Florian almost lost her way during her first season and a half of varsity basketball. After a coaching change and a new outlook, Florian is now leading the Wolverines into a new era full of promise.
"Coming into high school, I was so passionate about the game, and the first thing I did was set a goal of playing college basketball," Florian said. "The program got off to a rough start in my first couple of years, and it was in a bad spot. I didn't really get along with the coach, and at times it felt like there was never a desire to improve or to win."
Florian quit before her sophomore season began, the last thing she wanted to do. The Wolverines struggled and won only 10 games in the two-year span and had only two league wins.
"Getting that passion destroyed, it hurt," Florian said. "... I wanted to come back and push through because I knew that couldn't be the end of my basketball career."
Florian said her parents, Ryan and Stephanie Florian, and friends encouraged her to get back on the court before her junior year. It was the first year under head coach Josh Kitchen, a friendly face for many girls within the program after he had coached them in middle school.
"I've known Tymbree for a long time," said Kitchen. "She's the ultimate competitor and would always play with the boys in grade school. She was never the tallest, but her sheer will to win and athleticism has always stood out.
"I was curious to see what she'd be like from her play to her attitude with a year off. But, right away, it was like she was back in middle school, in a sense. She wanted to give it her all, the tenacity was there, and obviously, you see that still today."
Kitchen helped BHS get back on the right foot last season, as they won seven games and went 3-7 in 3A Intermountain League play. Florian was the team's second-leading scorer with 5.2 points per game.
With a year with coach Kitchen under her belt, and a young but talented squad, she knew this could be a game-changing season for the program.
"My goals for the beginning of the season, as crazy as it sounds, but I want to win the IML," Florian said. "We're a little bit more well-rounded than last year, and we know we have an opportunity to change this program around."
She pointed to January's thrilling comeback against Montezuma-Cortez as an example of why Bayfield is on the up-and-up. The Wolverines went a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute of the game for a come-from-behind win. It was the first time the Wolverines had won their league opener since the 2013-14 season.
"If this was a different year, I don't know that we'd win that game," Florian said. "What got us through ....was that desire and passion and to want to play as a team. We can't go back to how it used to be. And that's what has me excited. Yes, we are young, but everybody wants to win for each other. We just have to keep working as a team."
Florian had a game-high 19 points in the win, and is averaging double-digit scoring each night. She added 18 points in the Jan. 15 road win against Sargent.
Kitchen said he's pushed Florian to be more of a leader, and she's responded.
"I really saw it in summer ball when she spent so much time with girls who haven't been on varsity all those years and really connected with them," Kitchen said. "The other day, she spent time with one of our C-team girls and worked on shooting and instructed her with just how to improve her shot. It really stuck with me as to how much she's grown."
After an up-and-down high school career, playing college basketball is still on Florian's mind.
"I genuinely think she can play at the next level, and she's got a rare athleticism about her," Kitchen said. "She will find a way. Many coaches are looking for that kind of a guard, It's just about finding the right fit. She's always had tons of passion and has never been afraid of going the extra mile, and that passion has led her down an awesome road and will continue to do so."