Ron Brown, Centralia High’s boys basketball coach for 54 seasons, a coach with a composure so calm he has never received a technical foul, got emotional.
“I didn’t think I would,” he admitted before Saturday’s game against Rochester. And he did again afterward on the floor that’s donned his name since 2008 as he received congratulatory handshakes and hugs and posed for photos.
His 700th win — a 79-57 nonleague victory on Ron Brown Court, fitting for a man whose committed most of his life to the program and to Centralia High School — was celebrated not only with his current players but by past generations who came to honor the longtime Tigers coach.
And that’s what made the night special, the 80-year-old Brown said.
“It (700 wins) represents so many teams, players and their efforts and achievements,” Brown said. “I happened to be involved with them, but it’s really basketball players that have made life good for me. And we have enjoyed the ride.”
Brown became the third coach in Washington prep history with 700 or more wins; only retired coaches Ed Pepple (952) and Pat Fitterer (728) have more victories than Brown. All 700 over 54 seasons have come as coach at Centralia.
Brown became the Tigers coach in 1961 (0-20 record, a distinction no other Brown-coached team has repeated) after serving as an assistant coach in 1959 and ’60. His won-loss record is now 700-514, and includes state titles in 1979 and ’81.
The outcome might’ve been the same as when the two teams met in Rochester on Dec. 12 in what was Centralia’s 69-43 win, but the Warriors (2-7) hung around late this time around. It was a 10-point game midway through the third quarter until Christian Peters’ 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left in the period made it 50-37 Centralia. That sparked a 10-4 run to close the quarter for a 16-point gap entering the fourth.
With 4:29 to go and a 17-point advantage, Centralia High staffers felt the lead was safe to distribute orange and black signs that displayed “700” to fans to hold up as soon as the final horn sounded. But some fans — particularly the student section — couldn’t help themselves and displayed them and began chants of “700” early.
Hodges Bailey led all scorers with a game-high 22 points to help the Tigers improve to 5-4 overall. Jordan McLemore led the Warriors with 18 points.
Peters, whose father, Bob Peters, was part of the ‘79 state title team, not only heard stories about Brown growing up, but he grew up knowing Brown.
“He is a living legend in Centralia,” said Peters, who finished with 13 points. “All my friends’ dads have played for him. Everybody I know who has played basketball has ties to Ron Brown.
“He is a living legend.”
Horizon Christian (Ore.) 62, Black Hills 57: The Wolves fell in the tournament title game at Salem (Ore.) Academy's New Years Tournament, as the Hawks of Tualatin, Ore., used a 21-point fourth quarter for the come-from-behind victory Saturday night.
Wolves sophomore point guard TJ Mickelson had a game-high 36 points in the loss, and was named to the all-tournament team. He averaged 29.3 points in the tournament's three games.