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A golf wager, an uncomfortable pair of sweats - and a convincing Curtis win over O'Dea

Zoom Diallo scores a game-high 24 points, and the Class 4A champions pick apart the Metro League powerhouse, 81-60

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - It's no secret in the Washington basketball fraternity, few have a closer friendship than Curtis' Tim Kelly and O'Dea's Jason Kerr.

The two multiple WIAA-title winning coaches root for each, but rarely have played against each other in a regular-season game - until Wednesday night.

A lot went into planning the game - but it was the defending Class 4A champions who took out an 81-60 victory at home over the Fighting Irish.

Zoom Diallo paced the Vikings with a game-high 24 points. Tyce Paulsen added 23. Curtis shot a blistering 61.7 percent from the floor (29-of-47) from the floor in an efficiently-played triumph.

"For a full game, we didn't lose our focus," Kelly said. "I thought we moved the ball pretty good."

It had been nearly two decades since the two coaches squared off in a game - back when Kelly was the coach at Lincoln of Tacoma and Kerr was at Franklin, and the two teams met in a MLK holiday tournament at Climate Pledge Arena.

But with how valuable strength of schedule is in the WIAA's RPI seeding system, Kelly and Kerr agreed in the summer to play a "foundation" game.

The parameters? Well, that was settled in a different way.

When the coaches traveled to Spokane for a WIBCA hall of fame induction ceremony, they made a golf wager at Indian Canyon Golf Course: Whoever won would get to host the game.

"I had never beaten him before," Kelly said. "But I beat him at Indian Canyon."

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The next day, there was a rematch, but for a different purpose. If Kelly won, the two coaches would wear and suit and tie during the game. If Kerr won, the two coaches would dress casually in sweatpants.

Kerr won the match on the second day.

"I got what I wanted," Kelly said. "I wanted a home game."

The non-league matchup between the No. 1 Vikings of 4A, and the No. 2 Fighting Irish of 3A was a sellout.

Curtis never trailed in the game as Paulsen set the tone as an aggressive scorer, including opening with a 3-pointer.

"He was phenomenal all-around," Kelly said. "He played outstanding."

Everything seemed to trickle from Paulsen's effort, including Diallo, who scored all 11 of his first-half points in the final 10 minutes as the Vikings built a 37-24 lead.

Curtis opened the second half on an 11-3 run, highlighted by another Paulsen 3-pointer and Cinque Maxwell's steal and layin - and the Vikings were in control, up 48-27 at the 4:51 mark of the third quarter.

After the team played so well with Kelly - visibly uncomfortable - wearing a sweat outfit, should he wear it again?

Fat chance.

"He looked classy, man," Diallo said. "Coach Kelly looked good ... and that is what we should convince him to do. But he likes to look (good) in that suit and tie."