Don’t expect to see any secrets or surprises on the court today when the Douglas and Incline high school boys basketball teams clash at the Wild West Shootout in Reno.
After all, Douglas coach Corey Thacker and Incline’s Tim Kelly of Incline are familiar rivals who have played and coached against each other dating back to the mid-1990s. Even though their respective teams now play in different divisions — Douglas in Division I, Incline in Division III — you can expect to see a competitive game.
“Incline is going to be good,” Thacker said. “Coach Kelly does a good job with them. He gets them to play hard. We played them this summer and they do a very good job and they have some talented kids.”
Kelly, who is in his second season as Incline’s head coach, has the utmost respect for the two-time defending Sierra League champion Tigers. Douglas is 1-0 after its season-opening 61-51 win against Spanish Springs on Wednesday. Incline was 2-0 after opening with wins over South Tahoe and Hug last weekend.
“We’re playing well, but overall, they’re definitely more talented,” he said. “They’re very strong and athletic, and very well coached, so we’ll need to bring our A-game or we’ll get run out of the building.”
Incline was 12-14 last season and returns eight players, led by 6-3 guard Orin Porter, a senior, and Matt Hanna, a 6-3 junior guard.
Porter scored 23 points and Hanna 16 on Saturday to help Incline knock off Hug 55-53. Incline also won on Friday at South Tahoe, 65-61.
Saturday was a special occasion for the Highlanders, who celebrated their inaugural Hall of Fame game with a win against the defending Division I Northern Region Tournament champion Hug Hawks.
“We were up by 8 and then turned the ball over a couple of times to let them back in the game,” Kelly said. “They’re (Hug) young; we’re fortunate to get them when we did because they’re going to be very good in January and February.”
The rivalry between Thacker and Kelly actually dates to 1995 after Kelly transferred as a junior from Incline to Reno High. Thacker was playing at Elko at the time.
“We’ve been friends since we were 17,” Kelly said. “Corey and I were both point guards so we guarded each other ... and Elko had an amazing team. We’re both very competitive people, so we got to know each other that way.”
The rivalry and friendship grew beyond high school when Thacker moved on to College of Idaho and Kelly to Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Wash.).
“I played against Corey four years in college … we spent summers together at camps and became very good friends,” Kelly said.
These two coaches have opposed each other off and on over the past decade, including a time when Kelly coached at North Tahoe and Thacker at Spring Creek.
The Tigers return on Saturday to play traditional Southern California power Servite (Anaheim) at 12:30 p.m. on Manogue’s court. The Servite Friars were 17-13 and reached the CIF Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinals in 2012-13.
Interestingly enough, Kelly served as Servite’s head coach from 2007-11 and another of his close friends is current Servite coach John Morris.
“He’s one of my best friends,” Kelly said, adding that he and Morris were in each other’s weddings.
Note: The Wild West Shootout basketball tournament to benefit the Sierra Kids Foundation is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and features teams from California and Nevada.
(Editor’s note: Sylas Wright of the Sierra Sun contributed to this story)