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Gordon Tech, Rich in Boys Basketball History, Goes For 1,000th All-Time Win

By Justin Breen | December 13, 2013 8:30am
 Gordon Tech High School has 999 all-time wins in boys basketball. The Rams can win their 1,000th game this weekend.
Gordon Tech 1,000 wins
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NORTH CENTER — Gordon Tech College Prep's Paul Chabura made a grand discovery last Thursday about his school's tradition-rich boys basketball program.

The school's athletic director was sifting through decades worth of records and realized the Rams had accumulated 998 all-time wins.

Gordon Tech beat Seton Academy last Friday for its 999th victory, and the Rams can claim conquest No. 1,000 either Friday at home against Hales Franciscan or Saturday against Nazareth Academy at the former Weber High School gym. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.

"It just worked out the numbers came out to what they did," said Chabura, a 1997 Gordon Tech graduate who was going through the archives to create a encyclopedic history of the boys hoops program. "That really would have stunk if we had already won our 1,000th game and we hadn't been able to celebrate that."

 Gordon Tech has been playing boys basketball since 1953. The Rams have 999 all-time wins. Arguably their best all-time player is their current head coach, Tom Kleinschmidt (bottom right).
Gordon Tech has been playing boys basketball since 1953. The Rams have 999 all-time wins. Arguably their best all-time player is their current head coach, Tom Kleinschmidt (bottom right).
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Gordon Tech High School/Paul Chabura/Jack Lydon

Gordon Tech was founded and began its boys basketball program in 1953. But the Rams were a combined 1-72 in their first three campaigns before they started winning consistently. From 1956-1993, Gordon Tech never had less than 10 wins in a season.

In its history, Gordon Tech — 999-638 all-time — has hoisted 19 regional trophies, six sectional plaques and reached the state finals three times. Arguably the school's best team was the 1989-90 roster that finished 30-2 and was IHSA state runner-up. Those Rams were led by Tom Kleinschmidt, who starred at DePaul University and is now Gordon Tech's second-year head coach.

"It is a good number. It's a big number," Kleinschmidt said of 999 victories. "It tells us what a proud tradition we have here basketball-wise, and a lot of great players and coaches have come through here."

Gordon Tech is likely more famous for its boys hoops coaches than its players. Although the Catholic school has never sent a player to the NBA, it's had three former head coaches — Bob Ociepka, Dan Chubrilo and Dick Versace — reach basketball's top stage. Versace was 100-18 in four seasons at Gordon Tech before eventually becoming head coach of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers.

"The coaching trees here are unbelievable, and we're proud of it," said Kleinschmidt, the school's all-time scorer with 1,989 points.

Last season, Kleinschmidt guided the Rams to 17 wins, their most since 2002. His squad stands at 4-2 this year, and junior captain Raequan Williams said the 1,000-win mark has been the subject of constant team banter since Chabura's find.

"Every player is excited about it, and the school's excited, too," said Williams, of East Garfield Park, who is considered a blue-chip football recruit, too. "Everybody wants to win now. Even more students are coming to the games."

Kleinschmidt and Williams would rather earn the win at home, and after Friday's game, they wouldn't have another chance to get victory No. 1,000 on their home court until Jan. 10.

But Saturday's tilt has extra significance, too. It will be hosted on the court of the former Weber High School (now Northwest Middle School), and, for the last three years, Gordon Tech has invited Weber alumni to the school for the game. Nazareth's head coach, John Bonk, also worked in the same capacity for many years at Weber, which closed in 1999.

"Gordon Tech is simply trying to keep [Weber's] name alive," said Chabura, noting many of Weber's old championship banners will be brought back and put on display Saturday.

With such a late notice, Chabura said he and other school officials haven't had much time to promote the milestone victory. He announced this weekend's games — and their potential meaning — over the school's intercom on Thursday afternoon, and Gordon Tech's Facebook page also made brief mention of it.

Chabura and Kleinschmidt also haven't figured out how the Rams will celebrate when win No. 1,000 takes place, other than possibly having the current players sign the game ball and placing it in a trophy case.

Said Williams: "We haven't talked too much about what we're going to do. We just want to make sure we get that win."