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South Tahoe High School hires former NCAA Division I coach

Few fans can forget what Tom Orlich did for the South Tahoe High boys basketball program during the past 25 years. However, the school has eased the transition of Orlich’s departure by hiring a former NCAA Division I coach.

Derek Allister, who has coached the past four years at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, will lead the defending Northern Nevada 4A champions in 2000-20001. The hiring was approved by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District late last month, according to LeAnne Kankel, director of human resources for the LTUSD.

“I’m just glad we got a coach who sounds like he has a lot of experience coaching,” said STHS senior guard Matt Connelly.



Allister resigned his SFA post last February as his Lumberjacks were wrapping up a 6-21 season. The former Chico State player directed the Lumberjacks to a 32-74 record and one Southland Conference tournament berth in four seasons. He wasn’t the only coach with Division I experience to apply.

“Three of the applicants had Division I coaching background; it was amazing,” said STHS Athletic Director Don Borges. “What impressed me about him was that you’d ask him questions about coaching and he’d give the perfect answers.




“I’m looking forward to working him. In the next two weeks we’re getting the schedules squared away and after that he can get after it.”

Allister, who will teach English at STHS, was unavailable for comment.

Connelly and other returning players were worried about the program’s future when a coach wasn’t in place throughout the summer.

“We didn’t have a summer league at all. I just felt we weren’t going to prepared for the season,” Connelly said. “I just figured whoever was coaching, I was going out and having fun next season.”

Last season, Allister’s Lumberjacks started a respectable 5-6, but they lost 15 of their final 16 games. Allister was handcuffed before the season started by the loss of 1998-99 conference scoring champ Patrick Gusters to suspension for violating team rules and potential starting guard Roland Williams to a back injury.

Allister was an assistant at SFA before taking over the head spot in 1997. The 1976 graduate of Chico State also was an assistant at Nevada and California.

Orlich resigned earlier this summer after guiding the Vikings to 521 victories, nine zone championships and two state titles over the past quarter of a century.

Connelly feels the success of the Vikings program enticed a highly qualified coach.

“I don’t see anyone getting a Division I coach for a high school team unless you have a big program,” he said.


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