Douglas High girls basketball readies under new head coach
There will be a new coach leading the Douglas High girls basketball team this season, but he’s anything but an unfamiliar face.
Brian Mello takes over the reigns for the 2019-20 campaign after longtime coach Werner Christen retired.
Though it’ll be his first year as a head coach for the Tigers, Mello has been on the bench for the black and orange for the last few seasons as an assistant coach and has spent 24 years coaching basketball.
Mello has been around the game since he was a kid, eventually going on to play collegiate basketball at NCAA Division II Holy Names University in Oakland, California.
Out of college, Mello coached a year at his alma mater before returning to his former high school to continue coaching. After a few years of working in an athletic department he realized the high school ranks was where he wanted to be.
“I realized after a couple years that I missed the kids,” said Mello, who followed by taking his first job at Douglas High School.
Mello knows he’s following a Douglas coaching legend and said his goal isn’t to fill his shoes, but to continue pushing his brand of basketball that Mello had started to put in place.
“Not that I think I need to put my stamp on it, but we have girls that are basketball first and I think we can take that next step,” said Mello.
In his first season, Mello will have a number of returning contributors from last season’s team, including his daughter Riley Mello.
Riley was the Tigers’ leading scorer as a freshman, averaging 12.7 points per game while also pulling down an average of 5.5 rebounds per contest and swiping an average of three steals a game.
Douglas’ lone senior this season will be Taylynn Kizer, who posted 9.5 points per game last season while also poking loose a team-best 82 steals.
Karris David, Megan Veil and Peyton Miller are all back as well after appearing in most, if not all, of the Tigers’ contests last season.
With the talent that’s returning, coach Mello said Douglas will be slower and more methodical on offense, looking for shots it wants as opposed to ones its opponents allow.
“Not just shooting to shoot,” added Mello.
In the past, Douglas basketball has been zone defense oriented. Mello said that with so many basketball-savvy players he’s going to mix it up more this season, tossing in plenty of man-to-man.
“We have the athletes to change that up. We’re going to be running different things this year,” Mello said.
Douglas will be without four seniors from last season as well as current seniors Madi Smalley and Molly Coverley, who are not out for the team.
The Tigers bring in a group of seven girls this season that haven’t seen the varsity floor, but Mello was confident when he talked about their future.
“My expectation is that one, there is going to be some sort of learning curve, but their ceiling is going to be so high,” said Mello. “We don’t need to have that one girl that carries us every game. We just need everyone to get their six to eight points.”
Douglas also has a couple of transfers on the team this season that Mello is anxious to see step on the floor for the first time.
The Tigers were second in the Sierra League last season and parlayed that into a 4A Northern Region semifinal appearance against Reno where a win would have sent them to the state tournament.
After a 7-3 clip in league play last season – finishing behind Bishop Manogue – Mello thinks Douglas’ toughest tests will come from several avenues.
“We’re not going to put so much emphasis on one team,” said Mello. “I think on any given night, anyone can win.”
Douglas opens the year Saturday in Fallon against Churchill County while the Tigers’ league play will start Jan. 14 at home against Wooster.