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No. 600: Bears rout Patriots for Schaefer's milestone win

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
William Chrisman girls basketball coach Scott Schaefer, center, poses with his team after it defeated crosstown rival Truman 65-35 Thursday to give him his 600th career win. The team earned the Three Trails Trophy, front, and Schaefer was presented with a commemorative banner to mark his milestone win.

One of the best-kept secrets in the history of William Chrisman High School was revealed Thursday night when activities director Greg McGhee walked into the gym with a rolled-up banner.

Soon, boxes of plaques and posters followed as the Bears held a 63-34 lead over longtime rival Truman with just more than three minutes left.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, with the Bears holding onto a 65-35 lead, the celebration began as Chrisman coach Scott Schaefer had just won his 600th career game.

Along with that milestone, his Bears defeated the Patriots 65-35 to reclaim the Three Trails Trophy, which goes to the winner of the annual Noland Road rivalry contest.

“I’ve known about this for four days,” said senior point guard Amanda Szopinski, “I don’t know how I kept it a secret. We all wanted to talk about it, but we didn’t want Coach Schaefer to hear us talking about his 600th win.”

William Chrisman players pose with the Three Trails Trophy after defeating crosstown Truman 65-35 Thursday in the annual rivalry game. The win also gave Chrisman coach Scott Schaefer his 600th career win.

Jacque David – the Bears senior center who owned the paint all night, scoring a game-high 22 points – added, “It just doesn’t get much bigger than this. We win back the (Three Trails Trophy) my senior year and Coach wins his 600th game.

“He’s amazing! He has taught us so much about basketball – and a lot of other things, like life and how to be a good person. We all love him.”

For much of the game, Schaefer had his own personal cheering section behind the public address announcer’s table as his wife of 38 years, Brenda, and their three daughters – Kirstin Schaefer, Kendra Cooper and Kelsey Lawrence – were cheering every basket, rebound and steal.

William Chrisman girls basketball coach Scott Schaefer poses with his family - his wife Brenda, center, and their three daughters, Kirstin Schaefer, Kendra Cooper and Kelsey Lawrence, left to right - along with the Three Trails Trophy and a special banner made to commemorate his 600th career victory Thursday night after the Bears defeated rival Truman 65-35.

“I was his scorekeeper before we got married,” said Brenda, who for years has given coaches and media members a complete stat sheet after each of her husband’s games. “Tonight is so special. You could tell how special it was to his players, and he doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but I know how special this is for Scott.”

Schaefer is 600-229 for a 72% winning percentage. He is 124-53 in seven years at Chrisman and calls this year’s team “special.”

William Chrisman girls basketball coach Scott Schaefer, center, speaks with his team during a timeout in Thursday's game against rival Truman. The Bears defeated the Patriots 65-35 to give Schaefer his 600th career coaching victory.

“All my teams have been special, but this group is really special,” said Schaefer who also coached 16 years at McPherson (Kan.) High School, winning four state titles, and nine at Gardner-Edgerton (Kan.) High School before coming to Chrisman. “I’ve been here seven years and I’ve known most of our players since seventh grade. We knew they were going to be great players and more importantly, they are great young ladies.

“And right now, they are playing their best basketball of the season.”

A fifth straight win gives the Bears a 12-5 overall record and a 3-0 mark and the lead in the Suburban Middle Six.

“Tonight is all for Coach,” said senior guard Gia Moore, who hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. “He has taught us so much, and I am so thankful and blessed to be able to play for him – and to be able to play for him tonight. This is a night to celebrate.”

The Bears and Patriots were tied 9-all after one quarter. That’s when crisp passing and David’s inside presence led to a 35-19 halftime lead.

“Jacque works so hard to get open and we work hard to get her the ball,” said Szopinski, who finished with 10 assists. “We’re playing team ball, and that’s the kind of ball Coach wants us to play.”

Nearly lost in all the excitement was a double-double by sophomore Mele Taula, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

William Chrisman girls basketball coach Scott Schaefer gets applause from his players after getting his 600th career victory following a 65-35 rout of crosstown rival Truman Thursday.

“Every girl on this team knows their role and it really showed tonight,” said Schaefer, who was presented with a large banner, a plaque and a poster that was signed by each of his players. “You know, the other night (following a victory over Lee’s Summit) I was wondering why (Examiner photographer) David (Rainey) asked to get a photo. Now I know what he wanted the poster for.”

It was the centerpiece of the banner.

As he collected his mementoes, Truman first-year head coach Jimmy Page approached him and shook his hand.

“Congratulations Coach,” Page said.

Later he added, “I can’t even imagine 600 career wins. I have six (6-5 overall and 1-2 in conference). I was at Truman when Steve (Broughton) got his 400th career win and I thought that was a lot. But 600 – wow! And Coach Schaefer is a class act.”

Taliyah Scott led the Patriots with 16 points.