SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Hundreds of fans of the girls basketball teams from Clark County, Whitfield and California are going to travel to southwest Missouri this weekend, hoping to watch their team complete an unforgettable run to the Class 3 state championship.
The reality is, however, that they're probably going to get to watch history in the making.
Strafford, a small town of about 2,300 people on U.S. 44 in Greene County, is about 14 miles from Springfield, host of the Missouri State High School Activities Association basketball tournament that starts Thursday. Expect most of them to make the short drive to the John Q. Hammons Arena and to the Hammons Student Center to watch the Indians finish their march to a third consecutive Class 3 title.
How dominant is Strafford? Well, the numbers don't lie. The Indians ...
º Are ranked 25th in the latest USA Today expert national poll. That's every high school in the nation, regardless of class, and Strafford has an enrollment of 360. The USA Today computer poll ranked Strafford No. 1 in Missouri, regardless of class.
º Have won 80 consecutive games.
º Are unbeaten in 31 games this season. Only three teams have stayed within 20 points -- Logan-Rogersville (57-47), Skyline (64-59) and Branson (69-50). Strafford beat Logan-Rogersville 69-25 a month later.
º Have beaten five teams ranked in the top 25 of the USA Today computer poll for Missouri -- No. 4 Skyline, No. 7 Mount Vernon, No. 12 Lutheran North, No. 14 Clever and No. 25 Walnut Grove. The average margin of victory was 25.7 points (Strafford beat Mount Vernon twice), and the biggest margin of defeat among those was a 69-29 thumping of Lutheran North -- which Clark County defeated in overtime in the quarterfinal at Warrenton on Saturday.
º Average 74.9 points per game and have topped 85 points on 13 occasions.
º Beat their opponents by an average margin of 43 points per game, and they beat their five postseason opponents by an average of 44.6 points.
º Have held 13 teams to 25 points or less.
Steve Frank, a graduate of Clopton High School, has coached the Indians to 137 victories and just 16 losses. His twin daughters are juniors and the leading scorers on the team -- Hayley, a 6-foot-2 center, averages 21.6 points and 13 rebounds, while Kayley, a 5-foot-8 guard, scores 11.7 points per game. Hayley Frank is ranked among the top 50 players in her class by ESPN and gave a verbal commitment in October to play at Missouri.
Not only do the Frank twins return next season, but so does every player except seniors Zoey Mullings (9 ppg) and Alissa Collette, who has scored 22 points this season.
The winning streak is expected to top 100 games next year. The state record is 102 games, set by Marshfield in 1987-90. (The national record is 218, set by Baskin (La.) from 1948-53.)
The top Class 4 and Class 5 girls teams in Missouri are scheduled to play in Springfield next weekend, but those watching the small schools compete this weekend will get a chance to see the best girls team in the state.