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Top prep club hoop teams in Tahoe

Steve Yingling

Temperatues may climb into the upper 70s this weekend on the South Shore, but the hottest ticket in town very likely is indoors.

Featuring basketball powerhouses such as Jesuit, Mater Dei, Bishop O’Dowd, St. Joseph’s and Littleton, Colo., the Friday-through-Sunday South Tahoe Shootout at South Tahoe High promises to make basketball fans think it’s the middle of winter.

“This is one of the premier tournaments in the western United States. We have people fighting to get in,” said South Tahoe High basketball coach Tom Orlich of the 16-team field.



For South Tahoe fans, there’s a bonus attraction on Friday night. Brothers Erik and Jan Rasmussen will coach against one another for the second time when South Tahoe meets St. Augustine, a private school from San Diego, at 5 p.m.

Jan, who started at guard on STHS’s 1992 state championship club, will handle the coaching duties for St. Augustine. Erik, who played guard on the STHS’s 1987 state champions, will assist Orlich for the Vikings.



The Rasmussens butted heads for the first time last December, when South Tahoe defeated St. Augustine in the Nike Prep Classic in San Diego.

Although the brothers are excited for each other to succeed, their competitive spirit has taken over before tip-off.

“I’m really proud of him; he’s done a lot with that team,” Erik said. “I’m sure we’ll put down some kind of friendly bet. Maybe I’ll spring something on him.

“But it will be a Jan-vs.-Tom thing more than an Erik-vs.-Jan thing.”

Jan was more direct.

“Erik hasn’t made up his mind what he wants to do (coaching-wise) in the future, but I’m sure he’ll want to quit after I get through with him. This game might be my wedding present to him,” said Jan about his recently wedded brother.

For 22-year head coach Orlich, having players follow him into the coaching profession is nothing new. Orlich has coached against his brother, Jim, a former mentor at South San Francisco High, but seldom has the opportunity arisen to coach against any of his former players.

“Any of the alums who have gone on to become coaches, I’m extremely proud of them. I’m always happy to see them carry on our tradition, even if it’s in another program,” Orlich said.

In preparing for Friday’s showdown, Erik is expecting Jan to coach within the perimeters of St. Augustine’s program.

“He’s going to do what there program’s going to do, not what he’s grown up doing. But if their coach (Mike Hopp) gives him a little bit more freedom, maybe we’ll see a little more South Tahoe style come out.”

Meanwhile, Jan is worried how his club will adjust to the altitude and the pace South Tahoe’s full-court pressure style demands.

“The altitude gets to you no matter what, so hopefully we’ll be able to get through it all right. I’ll do a lot of subbing,” Jan said.

Erik, who has served as the South Tahoe High junior varsity coach the past three years, is uncertain about his coaching future.

“I’m checking out some possibilities. If the right opportunity comes along I’ll consider jumping up, but it has to be the right opportunity because I’m very happy here,” he said.

As for the rest of the weekend, South Tahoe’s schedule probably is harder than spending a night on Cave Rock. South Tahoe meets Judge Memorial of Utah at 8:45 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, South Tahoe meets perenial national powerhouse Mater Dei at 10:15 a.m. and defending Colorado 4A state champion Littleton at 12:30 p.m. On Sunday, South Tahoe confronts Bay Area bulldozer Bishop O’Dowd at 9:30 a.m., Beaverton, Ore., at 1:15 p.m. and longtime Calfiornia state title contender Jesuitt at 3:30 p.m.

“I don’t know how we’ll do, but competing against better teams will make our kids better, and that’s what it’s about in the off-season,” Orlich said.


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