MURRAY, Neb. — Jahn and Sierra Kile sat inside Ralston Arena watching basketball Tuesday. To anyone out of earshot, it seemed like a typical father-daughter outing.
But it was more than that.
With two seconds to play in Millard North’s 56-54 victory over Bellevue West, Jahn — Conestoga’s coach — asked Sierra — the Cougars’ do-everything junior standout — how the Mustangs should proceed.
“We were watching the game and suddenly he asked, ‘Hey, what would you do in this situation?’ ” Sierra said. “I said something, we talked about it and then he said, ‘Well, this is what I would do.’ It was his input and my input and it was a lot of fun.”
Those kinds of pop quizzes have provided Sierra Kile with a basketball IQ that, while not quite matching her father’s, is still off the chart for a 16-year-old.
“I enjoyed it,” Jahn Kile said. “Really, we were talking about the intricacies of basketball while we were watching the game together. It’s something we’ve always done.”
It has made both of them better.
“It’s so hard to explain how cool it is that I get to play with the same mind that he coaches with,” she said. “We share a lot of ideas and strategies. I have learned so much from him and it is really cool that I can transfer that onto the court.”
The Kiles were simpatico last week in a 59-54 overtime victory over rival Weeping Water. Jahn drew up the plays that allowed Conestoga (7-2) to overcome a seven-point, first-half deficit while Sierra turned it on in the second half.
It also painted a bull’s-eye on her back heading into Friday’s rematch with Weeping Water.
“It will be another good battle,” she said. “We just faced them, so you kind of know what to expect, but both teams are going to make some adjustments. You know they are going to look to get after us because we just beat them in overtime. It will be a fun challenge.”
A challenge for the opposition, too. Sierra Kile’s mindset can make her hard to stop.
“I’ve learned that a really good way to get yourself open is to screen for others,” she said. Depending on how defenses react to her screen, she either rolls to the basket or sets up her teammate for an uncontested drive to the hoop.
Her versatility also makes Kile a threat from the perimeter and post.
After injuries at point guard last season, she stepped in. This year, the 5-foot-8 Kile is spending more time in the paint, helping the Cougars deal with a lack of size and depth in the frontcourt.
“We want to give her the ball and some good opportunities to score,” her dad said. “She’s really good out on the perimeter, but if she has a nice mismatch, we like to put her in the post. She can score in a lot of ways.”
When she’s not playing basketball, she is usually watching it. Sierra pores through game film at home and spends a lot of time with her dad watching NBA and college games.
“That’s the thing that sets her apart from a lot of kids,” Jahn Kile said. “She loves to watch and learn. She just absorbs what she sees.”
Jahn has been coaching Sierra most of her life, but steps aside in the summer when she plays for a team made up of players from Elkhorn and Millard North. Sometimes a different voice puts everything into context, she said.
“It’s always good to hear different points of view,” she said. “They notice some things that my dad might not notice. It’s always good to have other opinions and other sets of eyes to be able to help me out in the summer.”
And it allows Jahn to be a regular father, supporting his daughter from the bleachers.
“It’s always fun to sit back and watch her play while someone else coaches her,” he said.