Jan. 24—Fifteen hundred and counting.
That's how many victories the St. Anthony boys' basketball program has to its name.
On Friday night, ahead of St. Anthony's game against Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg, the school celebrated that milestone by bringing former players and coaches from each decade to center court at the Enlow Center before being applauded by a soldout crowd.
"It's quite an accomplishment to get your program to 1,500 wins," principal Greg Fearday said. "Many guys have worked hard to contribute to all those hard-fought wins. There are a lot of great programs around Effingham and throughout this area."
Overall, there have been 24 coaches to grace the sideline as the Bulldogs' head coach, according to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). That started with Perry Broom in 1931-1932 and continues to current head Cody Rincker in 2022-2023.
"It's well-documented how many coaches this program has had, and comparative to many other 1,500-win programs — whether that's a good thing or a bad thing — we have significantly more coaches than some other programs have had with this much success," Rincker said. "It's a tribute to the types of families we have and the caliber of families we have in the St. Anthony community, meaning the work ethic, dedication, and commitment to try and do their best."
Rincker was the coach when St. Anthony recorded win No. 1,500 on the number.
He said he was humbled to have earned the opportunity to say that.
"1,500 wins, being the coach in place when we were able to accomplish that, it's a humbling honor how I would word it. (There were) many great coaches before me; many great players came before the teams I've had that have put a lot of time, effort, and dedication into having a successful program," Rincker said. "Building a program and a tradition that has become St. Anthony basketball and drawn great coaches to it, to carry on that tradition, I'm lucky to have gotten the opportunity."
Rincker has been the head coach for the Bulldogs for nine seasons and has a 215-82 record since he started, highlighted by winning the program's only state championship in 2016-2017.
A young coach when he accepted the position, Rincker said he always knew the talent was there; they just needed the coach to bring that talent out of them.
However, Rincker noted the community as a reason for that talent being what it is more than anything he's done for them.
"The talent was here, and it's always been here, but beyond the talent, it's a community culture," Rincker said. "The constant strive to build and grow on what you're already doing. There are things in place, but you're not going to be satisfied with just being complacent and letting things go. You'll continue to work and improve, and that's how I viewed things when I took over."
Chris Kusnerick — the 19th head coach in program history — added on about the community, noting how blessed he was to be a part of it.
"It is a great community and (has) a lot of great people," Kusnerick said. "My wife and our entire family cherished our time here and missed it at times for sure.
"We had a lot of great kids and good players. It was a lot of fun times; winning is fun, and we had quite a bit of success during that time. There was a great support system to make that success worthwhile."
Kusnerick spent five seasons as head coach. He compiled a 128-24 record and won 20 or more games in his five seasons. He won two regional championships and one sectional.
Kusnerick was also the head coach when the program recorded win No. 1,000 and — alongside former athletics director Matt Hensley — helped create the victory board displayed in the Enlow Center above the visiting locker room.
"I feel honored to have the opportunity to come back and be a part of this ceremony," Kusnerick said.
Kusnerick wasn't the only one to feel that same way, though.
Mike Wilson, the 21st head coach in program history, also reminisced on fond memories during his time here.
There were three games in particular, though, that stood out more than any other.
"Winning my first regional because we had to win that regional to get to 20 wins and keep that streak alive," Wilson said. "We won that game in overtime, so that was big. Later that year, we won a sectional game against Lawrenceville and shot the lights out. Then, my last year, in 2007, we went up and played in the Lisle Benet Academy Shootout and beat Lake Forest Academy, who went 7-foot; 6-foot-7; 6-foot-7; 6-foot-5, and 6-foot-3, and we beat them by two, but probably my biggest was knocking off Teutopolis, at Teutopolis that year. They were undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the state, and they beat us at the NTC when we blew a 16-point lead at the half and got beat by 14; to beat them at their house was big."
Wilson spent three seasons with the Bulldogs, finishing 68-30 and winning three regional championships.
St. Anthony has won 25 regional championships, six sectional championships, four super-sectional championships, and placed in the state tournament four times in the program's history, with more history still to be written.
Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or email@example.com.