The word that Olentangy Orange boys basketball coach Anthony Calo used to describe Friday night was weird.
“I am fully invested where I am, but you can’t suppress 28 years worth of memories,” Anthony Calo said.
Anthony Calo has been associated with Westerville South High School since he was two years old when his father, Ed Calo, was hired as boys basketball coach.
He was a ball boy and then played for his father before joining his staff for three seasons.
“After the games, ever since I could get it halfway to the rim, we would play for hours – always dreaming of being in a jersey,” Anthony Calo said. “Our whole life was around Westerville South basketball. So, I always wanted to play for him … always wanted to wear a Westerville South jersey.
“And then coaching for him was probably better than playing for him … probably because we were really good,” Anthony Calo added with a grin. “So that was really enjoyable doing that. It’s your dad – you want to have a relationship with your dad and that was our common bond. It was a lot of fun doing that together.”
So, it was surreal for Anthony to sit on the visiting bench.
It wasn’t any easier on the home sideline.
“It was bittersweet,” Ed Calo said. “To have your son head up a team – head up a program – I’m proud of him because I know what he stands for.
“I really didn’t enjoy coaching against him,” Ed Calo added. “I feel really bad when they lose and feel bad for us when I lose, so it’s not going to be a positive situation at the end of it all. It’s very difficult, but kind of neat at the same time.”
The Calo’s were forced into this new twice-a-season rivalry with the OCC realignment. When Anthony took the job at Orange before the 2012-13 season, the two vowed never to play each other.
But that changed Friday night. Anthony on the visiting bench and Ed in the same spot he’s been for the last 30 years.
The two met at center court during warmups, and Anthony tried to throw dad off.
“Right before the game, I revealed to him what game I watched,” he said. “I had to throw him off a little bit.”
And when it was over, father beat son, Mufasa bested Simba, or simply put, Westerville South beat Orange 56-34.
“Now that we’ve played, it’s obvious that he studied us quite a bit,” Anthony Calo said. “So, it’s going to be fun to hear from about what we need to do better.”
Kaleb Wesson led the Wildcats (9-1, 4-0) with 23 points and Antoine Smith added 10. Cam Barron paced the Pioneers (5-5, 0-3) with 11 points on the strength of three three-pointers.
South used a 17-0 run in the first quarter to quickly gain control and never looked back.
“Any time you play Westerville South, you have to value the basketball, you have to get back in transition and we did not do that in the first half and that cost us,” Anthony Calo said. “We’ve got to value the ball better if we want to improve – that’s just the reality for us this year.”
Will it get any easier?
“No,” Ed Calo said simply and firmly. “I don’t … I hope I’m wrong. Maybe you put it behind you.”
“It’ll get easier,” Anthony Calo said. “We’ve sort of ripped the band-aid off.”
Orange is back in action at Dublin Coffman in non-league Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.