Mathews honors its 1988 state title team

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems The 1988 Mathews girls basketball state championship team was honored Saturday at Mathews High School. From left, Dianne Rappach, Bobbi McLain, Jennifer Beachler, assistant coach Robert Terlecky, Carrie Clute, Christine Chamberlain and Holly Bottar.

VIENNA — A small community with a small gym once upon a time had quite the team.

In between Saturday’s junior varsity and varsity game between Mathews and Grand Valley, the 1987-1988 Mathews Division III girls basketball state championship team was honored by the school.

In 1987-1988 season, Mathews went on quite the tear as it finished the season undefeated 27-0 en route to its first and only state title in girls basketball.

“I’ve seen the banner but I haven’t seen the new court and everything else,” Holly Bottar said. “From what everybody says, it was a huge accomplishment. We brought the community together. It is nice to see everybody here supporting us still.”

It was quite the accomplishment for Mathews. The Mustangs outscored their opponents by nearly 20 points each game — including nine 50-point wins.

Only two teams got within 12 points of the Mustangs as St. Thomas Aquinas lost, 66-54, in regional semifinal and Coldwater lost, 67-55, in the state semifinal. Mathews beat Utica in the state title game, 63-48.

“They just refused to lose,” said former assistant coach Robert Terleckey. “Honestly, we had (two) 12-point games at the end of the year. They all played three sports. If they would’ve specialized in basketball with everything everybody has now with camps and AAU, I can’t imagine what they would do now.”

That team had three 1,000-point scorers in Holly Bottar at 1,282, Dianne Rappach at 1,093 and Judy Santiago at 1,176. The team also had a 1,000-point scorer graduated in 1987 as Cheryl Phillips scored 1,145.

“I remember the community and somebody even bought us rings,” Carrie Clute said. “We had state rings. We took a bus up to play with the Cavs. It was amazing. People that didn’t have kids were there supporting us. It’s really neat to see that here.”

Nearly 30 years have passed since that team, but Clute said she still loves the Mathews community that loves and supports this team.

“Dianne laughed and said that I used to sit on the bench and eat M&M’s,” Terlecky said “I told her the only reason I did that was because I didn’t want to be ignorant and read the newspaper. They were easy to coach and Dennis (Holmes) was the perfect coach for that group.”

Mathews outscored other teams by an average of 40.5 points per game. It scored 77.7 points per game.

Clute said winning was awesome, but it was expected because that team was in that position each and every year.

“This place hasn’t changed,” Clute said. “That is so weird because everything is right where it was before. We started talking about different memories we had with each other. Things that I forgot, they remembered. It has been neat to get caught back up. We all got along really well. We were playing even D-1 schools.”

This team seems to never be matched by another team in school history for what it accomplished.