But this clash of father versus son is not a game that Ron and Tim Brown circle on the calendar, awaiting with anticipation. Father and son will meet for the second time this season as opposing coaches in Tuesday’s Centralia-North Thurston boys basketball game.
“I’d just as soon not coach against him,” said Ron, Centralia’s head coach for 50 years and the third-winningest boys high school basketball coach in state history. “If you happen to win, you feel good for your team. But you feel bad for your son.”
On this night (tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.), Tim’s opposing coach is the same man who taught him how to shoot a basketball as a young boy in his back yard. He’s the same man who was his high school basketball coach. And he’s the same man who tucked him into bed at night as a little boy.
“Someone is going to win and someone is going to lose,” said Tim, who played for his dad in the early 1980s and has been North Thurston’s coach since 1994. “It’s no fun to be on the wrong end of it. I like calling my dad after games and talking.”
That phone call won’t be made after Tuesday night’s game. But they’ll still shake hands after the game. The outcome won’t be a wedge.
“There’s no hard feelings,” Tim said. “You have a job to do and you try to do it.”
It’s the first year that North Thurston and Centralia have been in the same league since the old Pac-9 League disbanded five years ago. Earlier this season, North Thurston defeated Centralia, 80-48, in a 2A Evergreen Conference game, getting Tim in a little trouble with his two sisters and brother.
“They don’t like it when we win,” Tim said. “The only one in the family who bleeds a little North Thurston purple is my mom.”
Janet Brown, Tim’s mom, doesn’t make it to many road games. But she was there when North Thurston won by 32 points a couple of weeks ago.
“I don’t take sides,” Janet said. “It would be nice if you could have a draw.”
Ron has been Centralia’s head coach since 1961, compiling 656 wins and trails only Ed Pepple (952) and Pat Fitterer (678) in career victories in the state. Tim, after going 21-6 in his first season at North Thurston in 1994, is 226-175. With their combined 882 wins, they’re likely the winningest father-son combination in state history.
Neither Ron nor Tim knows how their head-to-head record stands.
“I couldn’t tell you,” said Tim, whose 9-year-old son is named after his dad. “It’s really not something I keep track of.”
While both father and son say there’s no bragging rights on the line Tuesday night, Dan Clark, the North Thurston athletic director, knows that each coach will be trying to pull out a win.
“They shake hands before and after the game, but in between they’re basketball coaches,” Clark said. “Their attitudes don’t change. It’s like two high school coaches. It’s fun to watch.”
Ron admits he’s proud his youngest son followed in his footsteps as a coach. After playing for him and against him, Tim shows some similarities to his dad’s coaching style, from his offensive scheme to his method of leading.
“He’s calm. I think I’m calm, too,” Ron said. “He’s probably on his feet more than I am. Maybe he substitutes more. But that’s maybe because of personnel he has and I don’t have.”
Centralia is struggling this season, winning twice in 16 games. North Thurston is in the playoff hunt and is likely to win Tuesday night. But whatever the outcome, father and son will remain close.
“He’ll shake my hand and say, ‘Good game.’ Nothing out of the ordinary,” Tim said. “There’s no hard feelings. They have a job to do. So do we.”
And that’s just what a father taught his son so many years ago.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 email@example.com
STATE COACHING LEADERS
Washington state's all-time career coaching leaders for high school boys basketball through Jan. 23, 2011:
|x-Ed Pepple||Mercer Island, Fife, Mark Morris||49||952-306||.757|
|Pat Fitterer||Ellensburg , Eisenhower, Sehome, Kentwood, Highland||33*||678-207||.766|
|x-Bob Bafus||Colfax, Vashon, Laughbon||33||604-229||.725|
x-retired; * still active