Moundridge’s 59-game winning streak
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Remington, 58-55, OT
Little River, 65-47
Ellsworth, 42-39, OT
St. John, 75-32
Sacred Heart, 75-44
Smoky Valley, 51-31
Halstead, 41-35, OT
Sacred Heart, 86-39
Jackson Heights, 80-38
Valley Falls, 76-55
Heights’ 56-game streak
Junction City, 68-33
BV Northwest, 56-50
Nixa (Mo.), 86-69
Lawrence Free State, 78-59
Junction City, 69-31
BV West, 55-33
Olathe East, 70-62
BV Northwest, 58-51
Raytown (Mo.) South, 54-48
St. James Academy, 60-43
Dodge City, 47-33
It doesn’t have a fancy nickname. It’s not something that Kansas high school basketball fans talk about.
Moundridge’s 59-game winning streak in boys basketball has stood as a state record for 18 years. And it soon could be broken. That may be news to you. It’s definitely news to those who were part of the Moundridge streak.
“I wasn’t aware,’’ said Dwight Helms, a four-year starter for Moundridge during the era that also produced four Class 2A championships in a row from 1990-93. “But I was wondering if Heights was going to get it.’’
Heights is chasing its own four-peat in Class 6A and has won 56 straight games. Four more and the Moundridge record falls. The Falcons, behind Perry Ellis, next face Southeast on Tuesday night, then play games at West (Feb. 7), at Northwest (Feb. 10) and at Bishop Carroll (Feb. 14).
“It’s cool that they’re close,’’ said Helms, who works for BP and lives in Houston with his wife and two daughters, 5 and 3. “We had a lot of fun at Moundridge in those years. But when you’re doing something like winning all those games in a row, you don’t really know what you’re doing.’’
Jacy Holloway, a guard who teamed with Helms to form one of the finest high school duos in the state’s history, hasn’t been following the Heights winning streak, either.
“But it doesn’t surprise me that they’re getting close,’’ said Holloway, a teacher and boys basketball coach at Garden City High. “It’ll probably be pretty easy for them now.’’
Or perhaps not. But it’s a good time to re-visit the Moundridge streak, which included a few close calls and a harrowing slow-down game against Ellinwood (win No. 44) that the Wildcats were able to pull out 27-25 during the 1992-93 season.
“That was in the Sterling Black Bear Classic and Dwight had rolled his ankle earlier in the week and we didn’t have him,’’ said Moundridge coach Vance Unrau, in his 25th season coaching the Wildcats after two years as an assistant. “Jacy ended up scoring 25 of our 27 points because Ellinwood ended up holding the ball on us. And we ended up holding the ball on them some because we just got into terrible foul trouble.’’
But the most nerve-racking game of the streak was without a doubt a 41-35 win over Halstead in overtime, also in 1992-93. But the OT was not the most difficult part.
The Wildcats were chasing their 52nd straight win that night, on the Dragons’ home floor. A group of Halstead players from the mid-1940s were in the gym that night to be recognized for the 53-game winning streak they helped construct from 1944-46, which at the time was the state record.
“I’m there standing in the foyer outside the gym before the game and I already knew those guys were there,’’ Unrau said. “But I’m getting extra nervous about it. I said to myself, ‘OK, this is just too weird.’ And then the game went into overtime. I’m sure some of those guys from those old Halstead teams had their hearts sink.’’
Moundridge tied Halstead’s record in a first-round sub-state game, easily beating Salina Sacred Heart. They won the sub-state and broke the record by beating Lincoln 80-47.
“But even when we beat that record, nobody said much about it,’’ said Holloway, who went on to become a standout Big Eight player at Iowa State. “It just wasn’t a huge deal. The big deal was to go on and try to win another state tournament.’’
Winning streaks are sexy because they’re so difficult to sustain. Even the best teams have bad nights. So to run off 59 in a row — including three games that went into overtime — is an incredible feat.
“We were just high school kids, but for some reason we had this thing about really wanting to win,’’ Helms said. “Having kids now, I don’t want to focus them on the only thing that’s important is to win. But that’s the mentality we had at Moundridge. If we weren’t going to win, or compete as hard as we could compete, then why play?’’
There is no 1972 Miami Dolphins thing going on here. If Heights does lose before it breaks Moundridge’s record, nobody associated with the Wildcats’ win streak is going to pop open a bottle of champagne.
But that doesn’t mean Moundridge doesn’t cherish its record. Or that Helms, Holloway and Unrau wouldn’t like it to survive Heights’ threat.
“Do you think the Miami Dolphins were cheering for Green Bay this season?’’ Unrau asked. “Do you think Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Bob Greise didn’t want to keep that record of going undefeated?
“Here’s the thing, you can’t talk about Heights approaching the record without talking about whose record they’re close to breaking. There’s a lot of pride in the kids that I coached back then. What we accomplished was something incredibly special.’’
That’s why it was so surprising that, until they were told, the Moundridge guys weren’t aware their winning streak record was in jeopardy.
Unrau and Holloway have their own teams to worry about. Helms has a family and a demanding job. High school for the players was 20 years ago.
After Moundridge won its fourth state championship in 1993, Helms and Holloway graduated. So did several other key players during that dynasty.
Moundridge did win its first game of the 1993-94 season, beating Andale. But the streak ended in the second game and without drama. Hesston beat the Wildcats 47-15.
“I remember the newspaper called me at midnight that night because they thought someone had sent in a bogus score,’’ Unrau said. “They obviously didn’t figure there was any way we would lose 47-15. But there was such a mental letdown. Our team that season was 11-11 but those kids wanted to at least help the streak move forward somehow, so it was pretty important for them to win that first game against Andale.’’
No team has gotten close to 59 until now. Heights is lurking. Just three more to tie, four to get to 60.
“Obviously, it’s nice that our record has stood for this long,’’ Holloway said. “But if it’s broken, I might have a little moment because another one of my records was broken this season by Trey Unrau.’’
Unrau, only a junior and the coach’s son, passed Holloway as Moundridge’s career scoring leader a few games ago. As Holloway has learned, records are made to be broken.