By CHAD DRURY
Tuesday, March 4, 2001
To say the Fairfield Maharishi boys’ basketball
team choked in Saturday’s Class 2A substate
game against Danville is just plain wrong.
Few basketball teams in the state, boys or
girls, can say they went 23-2 for the season,
with a brutal scheduled early in the season
to test the team’s mettle. Yes, Saturday’s
game at Muscatine was as disappointing as
a straight-A student getting a B+ on his
report card, but one must take a look at
what the Pioneers accomplished this season,
both on the court and off it.
The Pioneers accomplished feats that
the bar as far as the boys’ basketball
is concerned. Twenty-three wins, the
Superconference West Division title,
first Associated Press ranking in the
years of the program, three district
and one game from state are all things
be elated about. No one thought Fairfield
Maharishi would accomplish what they
this season, no one but a few people
Pioneer players and coaches and community.
When I talked to Harley Carter in November
for a preview on his team this season, he
said he had the guns to go far in the postseason.
Sure enough, his prophecy turned out to be
true. The first six games of the season got
the ball rolling, as the Pioneers cleared
five hurdles before stumbling out of the
blocks against Fort Madison Aquinas. Then,
the Pioneers embarked on a tremendous 18-game
winning streak, including two 100-point efforts
and a 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter
to defeat Central Lee in a game by three
late in the season. Following the unblemished
12-0 divisional campaign, there were the
trouncings at districts, including the first
win against Sigourney, which saw the Pioneers
score the first 26 points.
Wins over Williamsburg and powerhouse Mid-Prairie
sent the team to the substate final, and
it appeared the route to state would be for
the taking. After all, the Pioneers deserved
to be there, and would have had an excellent
shot at winning the state title. But it wasn’t
meant to be. A tough outing against Danville
resulted in a seven-point loss and the end
of a dream season and fine careers of eight
senior players, Danny Duszynski, Ben Stone,
Willy Mullenneaux, twins Alek and Benek Lisefski,
Josh Meade and Brooke Hinchman.
Even bigger than the on-court accomplishments
was what the Pioneers did for the community.
Fans lined up at districts to see this fast-breaking,
aggressive-defensive and high-scoring squad.
Students from Fairfield High School as well
as citizens of the community overflowed the
Fairfield High School Gymnasium. For two
weeks, the town of Fairfield was one. Everyone
rooting for each other, whether it be Trojan
basketball or Pioneer basketball, was the
intention in the first place, and it only
got stronger when both teams had chances
of making it to state.
The Pioneer fans are great fans, to say the
least. How many boys will you find at games
that take their tops off and spray-paint
letters on their chests? How many people
in business suits will you see dye their
hair green? How many shirts will you see
in the crowd that say “Go Green”? If Chuck
Yeager broke the sound barrier 50-some years
ago, the roofs exploded in gymnasiums whenever
Pioneers were in the stands. Deafening roars
of “On-to-State” were common, if not premature.
However, the spirit was commendable, and
the large crowds definitely served as a sixth
No team in the area may hit an 18-game winning
streak, finish 23-2 with a final No. 5 ranking
in the Class 2A poll or make it to a substate
game in the near future. But when it comes
to heart, spirit and performance, it’s hard
to argue the Pioneers are winners no matter
which way you look.