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November 20, 2014

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high school football:

The late Greg Spencer, former Gorman coach Dave Gerber elected to Nevada high school Hall of Fame

The nine-person class will be inducted Feb. 21 and includes UNLV great Greg Anthony

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Courtesy Ron Smeltzer

Former Cimarron-Memorial football coach Greg Spencer instructs his players.

A look back at Greg Spencer

Former Cimarron-Memorial football coach Greg Spencer instructs his players. Launch slideshow »
Prep Sports Now

Back in time for Gorman vs. Findlay, league play

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer catch up on all of the valley's high school basketball action.

When it came to success under the Friday night lights, high school football coaches Greg Spencer and Dave Gerber raised the bar in Southern Nevada to another level.

Gerber won more than 100 games, two state championships and seven Southern Zone titles in 21 years at Bishop Gorman and Valley highs, and his teams of the 1970s and 80s were seemingly always regarded as one of the state’s best.

The late Spencer, who passed away in January 2009, led Cimarron-Memorial to back-to-back state championships in 1998 and ‘99, and three straight Southern Zone titles starting in 1997. The two highlight a class of nine Southern Nevadans who will be inducted Feb. 21 at the Orleans Arena into Nevada high school Hall of Fame.

The Hall, which has no official home and more serves as honor roll of prep sports’ most influential figures, rotates electing members between Northern and Southern Nevada annually. It’s always part of the basketball state championship week festivities.

The class, which was announced Wednesday by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, also includes two of the most notable athletes in Las Vegas history and the state’s unquestioned top baseball coach.

Greg Anthony, the point guard on UNLV's 1990 national championship basketball team, was equally dominating during his high school days at Rancho. The 1986 graduate helped the Rams win one state championship, and set single-season steal, scoring and assists records. Anthony, who spent nearly a decade playing in the NBA and currently works as a basketball commentator, is expected to attend the ceremony.

Marty Barrett, another Rancho graduate, is the other player selected for induction. Long before Barrett played in the 1986 World Series with the Boston Red Sox, he helped the Rams win three state championship and led the area in virtually all offensive categories.

In addition to Gerber and Spencer, three other coaches have been tabbed for the Hall. Rodger Fairless, who won 12 state championships while coaching at Eldorado, Valley and Green Valley, will be inducted.

Fairless coached Green Valley to national prominence in the 1990s in leading the Gators to six consecutive state championships (1993-98). He posted a 493-80 record in 20 seasons, coaching the likes future of big-leaguers Greg Maddux and Chad Hermansen.

“The nine individuals we are inducting have contributed greatly to high school athletics in Nevada as an administrator, athlete, coach, contributor and/or official,” said Eddie Bonine, Executive Director of the NIAA in a statement. “They have made a positive impact on the young men and women of our state in some very important ways and have helped to make many of their dreams come true.”

The others inductees include:

• Longtime Chaparral softball and volleyball coach Tona Lytle, who in 31 years with the Cowboys won two volleyball and one softball state title. In the 1970s, when both female sports were becoming sanctioned, she was a key figure in the movement.

• Veteran track and field, and cross country coach Mike O’Dea, whose teams at Eldorado, Durango and Palo Verde won 90-percent of their dual meets, 10 region titles and seven state championships. Aside from the many wins and titles in his 40-year career, O’Dea was also one of the leaders in the local running community, going to great lengths and investing much personal time to guarantee meets were hosted. He helped form the Southern Nevada Track and Cross Country Coaches Association and has served on high school rules committees.

•Dean Thornock, who coached football, and boys and girls basketball at White Pine High in Ely from 1970 to 2008. In 2005, he led the school to the 2A girls basketball and baseball state championships. He was also the school’s longtime athletic director and much-respected statewide by his peers. He was elected as an adminstrator.

•Mark Coleman, a 27-year veteran of the Clark County School District, wore several hats in stops at Bonanza, Green Valley, Indian Springs and Silverado. During his five-year stint in administration at Green Valley in the 1990s, the Gators were a force in virtually every sport. More important, however, was his dedication to results the students produced in the classroom. In 1987, he was elected to the CCSD Education Hall of Fame for efforts to increase requirements for student eligibility.

Visit NIAA.com for more information or to purchase tickets for the induction luncheon. Tickets are $35 per person.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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