Tamori retires … again … maybe
November 8, 2004
Some things never seem to change, and in Carson City, one of those is the sight of Ron Tamori coaching in a basketball game. Low-key and soft-spoken … composed … always teaching … and, of course, there’s his trademark, sucking on a lollipop as he watches a game from the bench.
Tamori has coached basketball at pretty much every level in Carson City since 1974 – boys and girls, middle school and high school – and he’s been a winner at every level he’s been at, most recently the Carson Middle School seventh grade girls team that rolled through its season with a perfect 20-0 record.
This marked the sixth time Tamori has coached an undefeated middle school team, and in addition, this group brought home the school’s third straight Tah-Neva League seventh grade girls basketball title. For good measure, the Solons moved up to play against eighth grade opposition and won three of four games to bring home the consolation championship trophy from the South Tahoe Optimist Tournament two weeks ago.
“They needed another team to fill the 16-team bracket, so we went up and played,” Tamori said. “It was good experience for the team to see that kind of competition. I know I was pretty jazzed about how well they did because the difference between seventh and eighth grade is huge, compared to when you get to high school But there was no pressure because we weren’t even supposed to be there. There were some jitters the first game (Carson lost to a Stanley team that advanced to the finals), but after that, the girls realized, ‘It’s OK, we can play here.'”
Watching the development of players from a younger age is the fun of coaching at the middle school level.
“You have a lot more impact at that level, I think,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting to watch them improve. That’s pretty much why I keep doing it.”
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Now, here’s an interesting twist. The undefeated Carson Middle School team he coached this fall included the daughters of two of his former players: “Doug Butler (father of Janet Butler), who was on one of my seventh grade teams, and Mike Berkich (Caitlin Berkich), who I coached in ninth grade and JV’s for two years.”
In the consolation championship game, Tamori had an opportunity to face an Avery squad coached by long-time rival and friend, Tom Eising.
“We’ve coached against each other for over 20 years and have each coached over 1,000 games,” Tamori said. “It was a two-point game, and you should have seen the looks on the parents faces when the second quarter began. Coach Eising and I agreed that the second quarter would be for those who would probably not get to play otherwise – so everyone got to play, which made it fun.”
Interestingly enough, Tamori says the Solons’ front-line tandem of Emily Field and Gina Bianchi compares favorably to Alyson Thurman and Pam Williams, who set the career scoring and rebounding records at Carson High before they graduated in 2000.
“Those two remind me of Pam and Alyson,” said Tamori, who was an assistant for Carson varsity girls coach Paul Croghan between 1996 and 2003.
There’s been some impressive athletes along the way, too. Craig Allison and Charley Kerfeld were teammates on his first basketball team at Carson Middle School – Allison was later an instrumental player for Carson High teams that won three straight zone tournament championships, Kerfeld also played on those teams and later became a major league pitcher. Bruce Barnes, the current varsity boys basketball coach at Carson High, and his assistant, Carlos Mendeguia, both played for Tamori at Carson Middle School. So did Reno High varsity boys coach Eric Swain.
You will never hear Tamori taking credit for turning out those athletes, though.
“You could cover up a lot of mistakes with those guys,” he said.
Tamori has coached freshman football, wrestling, track and field, cross country at one time or another, but basketball is the sport he seems to keep coming back to.
“He’s done a great job with youth basketball in this community,” said Barnes, who played middle school ball in the late 1970s. “He’s a knowledgeable guy, he puts in the time, and I can guarantee he’s got the most wins of any coach in Carson City “As long as I can remember, he’s always had good teams.”
There’s never been any secrets to the way Tamori coaches.
“He is very patient and he teaches the game very well,” Barnes said. “He was my history teacher in middle school and he’s pretty much the same in the classroom as he is out on the court. He’s very approachable and well liked.”
Teaching is the key word, as Barnes saw first-hand when he assisted Tamori with the Carson’s J.V. boys in 1987.
“He breaks things down, literally,” Barnes said. “Everything we did in practice would be broken down into segments, then by the end, he would bring it all together and it would become clear to the kids why they were doing everything.”
If you listen to Tamori, this was his last stand. Don’t believe the retirement talk – like Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Roger Clemens and George Foreman – he always seems to find a way to come back.
Ah, yes, look for Tamori to be around this winter helping Carson High girls J.V. coach Mike Berkich, who was an assistant for the undefeated seventh grade team this fall.
“I might get involved, just to help Mike out,” he said.
Barnes has heard that before.
“He’s retiring again?,” Barnes said. “I don’t know if he will ever completely retire. He just loves it too much. He is one of those guys who’s been around forever. If you look at pictures from 1980 or something like that, he looks the same. He’s the ageless wonder.”
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.
Members of the Carson Middle School seventh grade girls basketball team include (front, from the left) Janet Butler, Caitlin Berkich; (second row) Kendra Krupp, Marcella Watson, Terralynn Tiffer, Sara Anderson, Angie Whisler; (third row) coach Ron Tamori, Gina Bianchi, Andrea Clustka, Tiandra Hudson, Brittany Sly, Karli Dodge, Emily Field, Yadira Duarte and coach Mike Berkich. Not pictured is Katie McFarren,
MIDDLE SCHOOL BASKETBALL
South Tahoe Optimist Tournament
(Note: Stats for Carson seventh grade girls in eighth grade event)
Stanley (Lafayette, Calif.) 45, Carson 16
Carson scoring: Emily Field 7, Gina Bianchi 3, Janet Butler 2, Karli Dodge 2, Andrea Clustka 1, Tiandra Hudson 1.
Carson 29, Toyon 13 (Calif.)
Carson scoring: Emily Field 10, Gina Bianchi 10, Karli Dodge 6, Caitlin Berkich 2, Tiandra Hudson 1.
Carson 26, Martinez (Calif.) 17
Carson scoring: Gina Bianchi 13, Emily Field 7, Terralynn Tiffer 2, Karli Dodge 2, Andrea Clustka 2.
Consolation Championship game
Carson 27, Avery (Calif.) 15
Carson scoring: Emily Field 11, Gina Bianchi 8, Tiandra Hudson 3, Kendra Krupp, Terralynn Tiffer 2, Caitlin Berkich 1.