Don’t expect to see any secrets or surprises on the court Friday when the Douglas and Incline 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 a Douglas team that won the Sierra League championship last season.
“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.”
The rivalry between Kelly and Thacker 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.
“I played against Corey four years in college … we spent summers together at camps and became very good friends,” Kelly said.
Thacker won’t be the only coach at the Wild West Shootout whom Kelly knows well.
The Highlanders open the tournament Wednesday against the school Kelly coached before Incline, Southern California power Servite, which is now led by one of Kelly’s closest buddies, John Morris.
“He’s one of my best friends,” Kelly said, adding that he and Morris were in each other’s weddings.
Kelly, who was head coach at Servite from 2007-08 to 2010-11, said he also knows several of the Servite players well. And they can play.
In order to stay in the game against the Friars, which compete in arguably the toughest division in the country — and boast one of their strongest teams in years — Kelly said the Highlanders will have to put up some serious points. A low-scoring game, he said, will play into Servite’s favor.