By RANDY GONZALES
PLAINVILLE -- Familiarity breeds content for the Plainville High School boys' basketball team.
When first-year head coach Chris Drees got the Cardinals' job after six years at Palco, as luck would have it, not everybody would have to learn his system.
Blake Gehring, a 2010 Palco High School graduate who played under Drees, is serving as Drees' assistant. Gehring's younger brother, Brent, a 6-foot-2 junior, is a starting guard for the Cardinals after moving to Plainville from Palco. His mother, Lisa, is the new principal at Plainville High School this year.
The Gehring siblings have been able to share a memorable season for Plainville boys' basketball. The Cardinals are headed to the Class 2A state tournament in Manhattan, where No. 3 seed Plainville (21-2) will play No. 6 seed Meade (20-3) at 8:15 p.m. Thursday in Bramlage Coliseum. It's the Plainville boys' first trip to state since 1994. A pep rally and send-off was planned for today, and school will let out at 2 p.m. Thursday.
"I never made it to state as a player; I always wanted to, never made it," Blake Gehring said. "Now going to one as a coach, I've been nervous since we made it."
Drees, who was an assistant at Thomas More Prep-Marian for seven years before landing the Palco job, added Blake Gehring as his assistant when he took over at Plainville. That familiarity has proved helpful.
"That's huge for me," Drees said. "I can send him to one end of the floor, and he knows exactly what I want to happen."
It's also been helpful to have Brent Gehring know the system after playing for Drees last season at Palco.
"I know the system probably as well as anyone does," Brent Gehring said. "I could help players, if they needed help."
Having one brother coach the other also helps.
"It's definitely easier to communicate with him, since I've done it forever," Blake Gehring said.
"He can tell me things a normal coach can't tell you. He's my brother; he doesn't have to be all nice about it, I guess," Brent Gehring said with a laugh.
Now, both of them are going to state -- together.
"It's definitely more special being able to do it with him," Blake Gehring said.