Scott Orness doesn’t get many opportunities to return to Paski Gym, where he was home coach for 11 seasons between 2001-15.
In the six years since he departed from his role as the Bainbridge boys basketball coach, Orness has only been the opposing coach once — in 2015, his first year at North Kitsap.
Orness has accomplished plenty in his high school hoops coaching career, but he had yet to win a game in his old stomping grounds – until his Vikings eight-point victory Tuesday.
“Coming in as the opponent in this gym, it gets me a little nervous,” Orness said following his team’s 62-54 victory.
Orness still has plenty of connections to Bainbridge. He was initially hired in 2001 at age 26 and coached until 2008, when he left, citing a desire to spend more time with his young children. During that time, he coached future Gonzaga player Steven Gray and led the Spartans to the 2007 Class 3A championship game, where they lost to O’Dea.
He returned in 2011 for four more years before moving across Agate Pass Bridge to take the head coaching job at North Kitsap. His record was 147-117 in 11 seasons at Bainbridge.
Orness stayed active on the island in the interim, coaching hoops at Woodward Middle School, where he has long been a science teacher and where his students gave him a hard time during the school day.
“There was a little trash talk in the classroom,” Orness said with a laugh.
Tuesday’s game was also a reunion for several players on both sides of the court, as Bainbridge players Alan Ulin, Jacob Kirsch, Alex Treskin and Andrew Ward all play select ball in the same AAU program as some of North Kitsap’s players, including Jonas La Tour, Johny Olmsted, Aiden Olmstead and Gray Hager. But the teams have rarely met since they belong to different leagues.
There were a number of players, parents and friends ready to offer a friendly “hello” to Orness after the game.
“There are a lot of relationships in this game,” Orness said.
Orness’s day usually doesn’t involve a second trip back to Bainbridge once he’s finished teaching, but he made the trip back following the team’s afternoon shootaround in Poulsbo.
La Tour said Orness talked about the importance of this matchup for him, and they were ready to respond for their coach.
“I took that to heart right away,” La Tour said. “I know the history behind this game.”