SportStars Magazine

Streak Smarts

A 50-plus Game Win Streak Has Chino Hills Boys Hoops In Rare Territory

   Win streak records are especially fun to keep track of because when challenging teams come along over the years — and there aren’t many — it’s natural to relive those moments and bring back those previous teams into the spotlight.

   That is what happened when De La Salle-Concord went on its historic march to 151 straight wins in football. As the Spartans approached, and then surpassed, other schools on the all-time state and national list, players at those schools would gather and recall what they did together. Who will ever forget those former players who flew in from Hudson, Mich., in 1997 on a night at Diablo Valley College when De La Salle broke Hudson’s national record with its 73rd straight win?

   Such is happening now in California basketball with the Chino Hills boys team. Although the Huskies still have a way to go to reach the state record of 66, their first two wins of Baseline League play on January 11 and 13 put their win streak at 53 games, which tied the No. 6 mark on the all-time list of 53 that was set in 1974 by Stagg-Stockton.

   Based on the totals in the Cal-Hi Sports state records, Stagg’s 53-game win streak will sit at No. 2 in Northern California history no matter what Chino Hills does the rest of this season.

   Chino Hills eventually may challenge the all-time state record of 66 games set in 1969 by Compton. The all-time NorCal record of 65 was set in 1960 by McClymonds-Oakland. Chino Hills’ last loss was to San Ramon Valley-Danville in the 2015 CIF Division I title game, a contest that went to two overtimes.

   One Stockton resident who was interested to see what happened in those two Chino Hills league games is retired former Stagg coach Tom Conway. His teams reached 53 straight wins by compiling back-to-back unbeaten seasons of 25-0 and 28-0 in 1972 and 1973. It’s still the best two back-to-back season records in NorCal history.

   Stagg’s first unbeaten season concluded with a 79-72 victory over Placer-Auburn in the first-ever CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. In the second year, the Delta Kings had to get past Elk Grove and its standout sophomore center, Bill Cartwright, in the semifinals and then topped Grace Davis-Modesto 73-61 in the championship.

   “It was hard to do that twice, especially win the sections two years in a row and when there hadn’t been section playoffs before,” said Conway, who retired in 1997 after a 30-year coaching career that also included stints at Edison-Stockton, St. Mary’s-Stockton and Modesto Junior College. “In the first year, our center was only 6-4. But then in ’73 the Washington brothers (Carl and David) transferred in from Balboa (San Francisco) as juniors and that made a big difference.”

   Stagg’s best players during the streak were guard Russ Coleman (who later played at Pacific and USF), John Hurley, Rich Witzke and Craig Minetto.

   Conway also was loaded on the bench. Two of his assistants during the streak were Bob Thomason and Rob DeWitt. Thomason can joke that the streak left with him since he left the school following the 1973 season for a job at Escalon. He later became the winningest coach ever of Pacific men’s basketball. DeWitt later became a head coach at Tracy and in 1984 guided the Delta College men’s team to its only state title.

   Even with the Washington brothers both returning, the streak didn’t last long in the 1973-74 season The Delta Kings lost in their opening game to Amador Valley-Pleasanton.

   Conway said he’s seen Chino Hills on TV several times and calls the accomplishments of the Huskies, who went 35-0 last season and had started 18-0 this season, “simply incredible.” This year’s team has continued to win behind senior guard LiAngelo Ball (who has a 72-point game) and sophomore guard LaMelo Ball. They’re the younger brothers of 2016 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Lonzo Ball, who is currently starring at UCLA.

   And what about the pressure of winning every time on the court for 53 consecutive games?

   “Actually, it was just a lot of fun,” Conway said. “We did have some close games, but survived all of them.” 

   If Chino Hills’ win streak does reach 65, it would tie the total of McClymonds teams that included Paul Silas, one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history. 

   See what we mean about these kinds of records bringing back memories?

Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at markjtennis@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.

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