For coach Darrel Knoll, who coached his 1997-98 and 1998-99 teams to 41 consecutive victories, 15 years is an appropriate time to celebrate an accomplishment he and most Trojan players and fans were hardly aware of at the time it was happening.
?To be honest, I never really paid attention to the streak,? said Knoll who will begin his 27th season as head coach in December. ?I?m not sure it ever came up with the teams either. We just approached the next game we needed, and we also knew there were teams that could have beaten us.?
Hillsboro?s streak?along with streaks established by eight other boys? teams and 12 girls? teams?are now immortalized by author Steven Michael Farney in a book released earlier this year titled, ?Streakin?: Con?secu?tive Game Winning Streaks in Kansas High School Boys and Girls Basketball.?
The players, managers and coaches from the two teams that combined for Hillsboro?s streak will be publicly recognized this Friday during halftime of the Hillsboro-Hoisington football game at Joel H. Wiens Stadium.
?The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a really great honor for the teams,? Knoll said about the book and the public recognition. ?I guess I never realized the streak was long enough to be part of any kind of Top 10 in boys? basketball history.
?The more we?ve thought about it, the more we feel what a great honor, what an awesome accomplishment. Looking back on it, maybe we?ll appreciate it even more than we did at the time.?
String of successes
Ironically, Belleville also ended the streak 14 months later when they edged the Trojans, 41-39?again on a last second shot, this time in the state tournament finals March 13, 1999.
In between, a special group of Trojan players accomplished what few players could even hope to dream about, including a state championship at the end of the 1998 season.
Knoll remembers his players? dedication to the game and to each other as being keys to their success.
?We had a lot of guys who played a lot of basketball in their free time,? he said.??Anytime they had a chance, they got together and played. Several spent quite a bit of time on their individual skills.
?It was something they loved, something they took seriously?and I think they all knew they had good teammates and had a chance to be a really good team.?
Knoll said those teams also had a lot of depth.
?Practices were high quality with lots of competition,? he recalled. ?In fact, some of the guys who didn?t play as much as they would have liked, in different years likely would have gotten a lot more playing time.?
Abundance of talent can lead to jealousies, but the spirit on both teams was mostly positive because of their commitment to each other, according to their coach.
?I think they all understood what people could do well and what they didn?t do so well?so I think people understood their roles pretty well,? Knoll said. ?I think they liked each other and believed in each other.
?That was a really big thing. They really played for each other.?
When the 1999 team saw its goal of an undefeated season and back-to-back state tournament titles end so suddenly on a freakish finish, it was a crushing disappointment.
?Maybe they?re still disappointed by it?but what a great team,? Knoll said. ?It probably ranks right up there as one of the great teams in Hillsboro High School history.
?I think maybe having their names in a book like this may help them feel a little better about ending as state runnerup instead of state champions,? he added.
?No matter what happens from here on out, we?re still in that book. It?s something that will kind of validate how good those guys were.?
Knoll said the release of the book and the renewed interest in a great era of Trojan basketball has prompted some introspection.
?What a special group of guys?but I can say that about a lot of teams I?ve coached,? he said. ?Just thinking about those two teams and how much enthusiasm they played the game with, it made we realize how much fun I?ve had and how blessed I?ve been as part of Hillsboro High School tradition.?
?Streakin?: Con?secu?tive Game Winning Streaks in Kansas High School Boys and Girls Basketball? is available online for $30 plus tax at hillsborofreepress. com/online-store/?product= streakin. Books also will be available for purchase from 2-5 p.m. at El Lorito restaurant, 117 S. Main St. in Hillsboro.
Hillsboro?s 41-game winning streak over two seasons began following a 57-55 loss to Belleville on a buzzer-beater Jan. 23, 1998, in the semifinals of the Trojan Classic, and ended March 13, 1999, on a buzzer-beater by Belleville in the Class 3A state finals. Following are the 41 consecutive victories that occurred in between.
HHS 72, Smoky Valley 56
HHS 68, Ellinwood 42
HHS 66, Lyons 39
HHS 72, Hesston 47
HHS 66, Halstead 48
HHS 53, Wichita Collegiate 40
HHS 93, Sterling 62
HHS 64, Ellinwood 44,
HHS 59, Ellinwood 37
HHS 85, Marion 39
HHS 84, Herington 32
HHS 71, Halstead 59
HHS 73, Horton 53
HHS 70 Jefferson Co. West 45
HHS 49, W. Collegiate 44
HHS 58, Andover 56 (OT)
HHS 63, Chase County 29
HHS 59, Hesston 28
HHS 73, Sterling 47
HHS 73, Marion 30
HHS 70, Haven 57
HHS 67, Halstead 41
HHS 58, W. Collegiate 28
HHS 83, Belle Plaine 36
HHS 59, Inman 47
HHS 52, Smoky Valley 46
HHS 52, Smoky Valley 46
HHS 60, Ellinwood 46
HHS 52, Lyons 41
HHS 58, Hesston 35
HHS 67, Halstead 41
HHS 55, W. Collegiate 51
HHS 72, Sterling 45
HHS 49, Ellinwood 47
HHS 79, Nickerson 40
HHS 68, Marion 39
HHS 43, Ellsworth 31
HHS 60, Wichita Collegiate 51
HHS 45, Conway Springs 27
HHS 48, Central Heights 30