As Josh Jakacki stood on the sideline watching his Crestwood Red Devils work through their pregame warmups, a T-shirt caught his eye.
The back of a black-and-gold Windham shirt read: "Back-to-back-to-back champions."
Jakacki said he paused for a moment to think about what it meant to three-peat.
"Honestly, I couldn't help but think about how much hard work it had to take to do that," he remembers.
Down the stretch they come in the CVC Chagrin Division race.
Leading by a nose is ...
Wow, good question.
Because of West Geauga's 49-42 win over visiting Kenston, the Chagrin Division is a dead heat among three teams, none of which play each other over the final weeks of the regular season.
The longest conference winning streak is over.
Thanks in large part to a staunch defensive effort that held Kenston scoreless for the first 7 minutes, 35 seconds of the fourth quarter, Chagrin Falls posted a 49-33 victory over the host Bombers on Friday.
In doing so, not only did the Tigers pull within half a game of the Bombers in the Chagrin Division of the CVC, but they also snapped Kenston's 39-game winning streak in the conference.
Kenston boys basketball coach Josh Jakacki is admittedly superstitious.
So there is no surprise that Jakacki is reluctant to talk about his team's winning ways in the Chagrin Division of the Chagrin Valley Conference.
But the numbers are right there for everyone to see. The Bombers are the three-time Chagrin Division champions and are the only team in the division with an undefeated (5-0) record in league play heading into Friday's game against Orange.
The Kenston boys basketball players managed to keep their wits about them and control their emotions as the Bombers beat Chardon, 69-43, in a game marred by several ejections to Hilltopper players.
The game was very close in the first half, but Kenston started to pull away as the Bombers owned a 12-point lead with about 3:30 left to play. That's when a hard foul led to several Chardon players leaving their bench. Multiple technical fouls were called and several Hilltoppers were ejected. No Bomber ejected or called for a technical foul. Kenston was award six foul shots, all of which were made by Bernie Porter. After a basket, Kenston had made use of a very rare eight-point possession that turned a 12-point lead into a 20-point bulge.
For three and a half quarters West Geauga looked as if they were poised to knock off Kenston and end an over three-year Chagrin Valley Conference winning streak.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the last two minutes did not play out like the other 30 minutes and the result was Kenston's boys winning their 39th straight conference game, 47-43.
A marquee matchup, to say the least, no one ever would have known it was played in Chagrin Falls' home gym without its team mascot stamped on the wall.
When the Tigers' boys basketball team hosted Kenston Saturday, the Bombers' student section had a two-to-one advantage, and their not-so-young spectators filled the rest of the visitor stands.
Chagrin Falls, however, was undeterred in the early going as the Tigers roared to an 11-2 lead to begin the Chagrin Valley Conference contest.
The slow start had nothing to do with a lack of focus, Kenston 6-foot-8 senior center Sam Coverdale said.
"Next man up."
That has become the battle cry for the Kenston basketball team after a series of injuries has forced coach Josh Jakacki to dig deep into his bench.
Through it all the Bombers, already in a rebuilding year of sorts with the graduation of Eric Truog and Pierce Cumpstone off last year's 20-2 team, have responded favorably. On Tuesday, they defeated Hawken, 67-50, for their fifth win in six games.
Kenston coach Josh Jakacki was loud and clear that he wasn't overly thrilled with the way his team got out of the gate Tuesday against visiting Hawken.
Thankfully for the Bombers, they went on a second-quarter spurt that was also loud and clear that put them in the winners' circle anyway.
Sophomore guard Jay Weemhoff scored 17 points, and Kenston closed the first half on a 19-2 run to pull away for a 67-50 CVC interdivision victory over the Hawks to improve to 5-1 on the season.
Read More (with video)
The Kenston boys basketball team will be looking for the Bombers' fourth straight Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division title.
Last season, the Bombers went 20-2 and reached a Division I district semifinal. In the past three seasons, Kenston is 57-8 overall.
Coach Josh Jakacki returns for his eighth season leading the Bombers as he's 81-26 at Kenston.
"We feel, legitimately, that we can go 12 deep," Jakacki said. "We feel we can play 10 to 12 on any given night and not miss a beat."
That depth is being tested right away as returning leading scorer Darryl Richards, a senior, will probably miss a couple more weeks as he recovers from a broken ankle suffered playing football. Richards is a 6-foot-3 point guard who averaged 10.2 points, 6.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game last season.