Montverde Academy of Florida won its third straight mythical national title by virtue of finishing No. 1 in the final 2014-15 Grassroots Hoops FAB 50 national rankings. We take a look back at the first team to finish ranked No. 1 for three straight seasons — McClymonds (Oakland, Calif.), which turned the trick between 1958-1960.
After Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) put the finishing touches on its 70-61 victory over Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), the question, “has anyone done it before?” quickly came to mind with regards to the Eagles’ historic 3-peat: three consecutive mythical national titles.
In the era of weekly boys basketball national polls (which for our record-keeping purposes began in Basketball Weekly for the 1975-76 season as compiled by Dave Krider) the answer is “no.” Oak Hill Academy won back-to-back titles in 1993 and 1994 and in 2005, Steve Smith’s club was ranked No. 1 by USA Today after capturing the mythical national title in 2003-04 with its excellent 38-0 club. The No. 1 team in the FAB 50 for 2005 was Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls, N.Y.).
Had Oak Hill not lost a memorable final game of the 2005-06 season to Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) to finish 41-0 instead of 40-1, the Warriors would have had a legitimate claim to a third straight mythical national title. That didn’t happen, however, so we have to go back before weekly polls began to find a team that accomplished what Montverde Academy did.
McClymonds High of Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California was an athletic power in the 1950s and 1960s and not just for boys basketball. When the Art late Art Johlfs of Minnesota compiled his end-of-season National Sports News Service rankings, he put Mack No. 1 for the 1957-58, 1958-1959 and 1959-1960 seasons.
Some novice high school basketball followers might feel what McClymonds accomplished pales in comparison because of the pressure, national competition and media demands that Montverde Academy deals with in today’s game — and in some respects that’s true. To say, however, that McClymonds didn’t dominate some pretty good competition as Montverde has or is not worthy of its status as a three-peat mythical national champion would be ignorant.
McClymonds was loaded with D1-level talent and two of its players from that era — Paul Silas (Creighton) and Joe Ellis (USF) — went on to long NBA careers while center Jim Hadnot (Providence), who starred on the 1958 team with Silas, played for a brief time in the ABA. Guard Aaron Pointer played basketball at USF, then went on to play MLB baseball, while reserve guard Wendell Hayes went on to play running back in the NFL.
Between 1958 and 1960, McClymonds won a then state record 65 consecutive games, which is still a Northern California mark. Not only was McClymonds mythical national champions those three seasons, the Warriors went 84-1 between 1958-61 and an incredible 107-1 between 1958-62.
Mack didn’t travel nationally as Montverde Academy does nowadays, but it played the toughest competition it could find. In fact, one of the best team feats coach Paul Harless’ program achieved during that era was winning six consecutive Northern California Tournament of Champions titles between 1958 and 1963. The TOC ran all the way until 1980 and was a precursor to the modern CIF state tournament.
Looking over the list of all-time national No. 1s also shows another California program with three consecutive No. 1 finishes — Verbum Dei (Los Angeles, Calif.) for 1973-75. Verb indeed was a national power in the 1970s, but it’s 1975 “mythical” national title comes with a huge asterisk.
That was the season Verbum Dei, with guard Roy Hamilton and center David Greenwood, was riding a 39-game winning streak and being talked about as the best team ever from SoCal. It all came crashing down when it lost to Palos Verdes (Calif.) 61-58 in the CIFSS 4A semifinals. Palos Verdes’ best player was future NBA center Bill Laimbeer.
So why did the 28-1 Eagles finish No. 1 by Basketball Weekly when they lost their last game and didn’t win a section title?
“It was my first year doing national rankings and the publisher and I had a dispute over my payment, so I never got to publish my final rankings,” Krider said. “I would have put Kashmere No. 1 after Verbum Dei lost.”
Kashmere (Houston, Texas) finished 46-0 and was named mythical national champion by the National Sports News Service. That team is considered one of the best in Texas high school basketball history.