It was 25 years ago when a Hereford basketball team went longer than any other boys squad in history.
The 1993 team only finished with a 15-12 record, but they came together at the right time,winning eight straight games and reaching the Class 2A state finals.
They lost in overtime to Alleghany, 50-45, in the finals.
Players and coaches from that team were honored on Feb. 16, along with the 1968 boys team, the only other Hereford team to reach the state tournament.
While the 1968 squad lost its semifinal game, the 1993 group defeated Edgewood in the semifinals.
The state finalists included: Tom Wess, Dewayne Fowble, Jamey Mathews, Mike Bailey, Chris Bull, Matt Saunders, Mike Shive, Steve String, Garth Heagerty, John Wingeart, Will Harvey, Paulo Stegmayer, David Glenn and David Marzullo.
Assistant coaches were Mark Trotta, John Mackert and Jon Caplan, and the head coach was Steve Power.
Mathews was the team’s top player, averaging 18.1 points and10 rebounds per game.
The unsung heroes were the Hereford fans.
“We won eight in a row and the entire community pulled together, all of the sudden we had people coming that followed the team, but now they came to the games,” coach Power said. “We had hundreds of fans at Cole Field House.”
What those fans witnessed was a team that liked to press, was patient on offense and had a flare for the dramatic, winning four playoff games by a total of eight points.
“We had kids that all got along with each other and we had a horse, we had Jamey Matthews, who was an all-county player and second leading scorer in school history,” Power said.
Mathews, who was 6-foot-7, finished his career in 1993 with 1,148 points, and he had a chance to win the state title game in regulation, but his shot missed.
He did scored the game-winning points in three games during the playoffs — a 67-66 win over Overlea in the regional semifinals, a 59-58 victory over Hammond in the regional finals and a 52-49 triumph over Edgewood in the state semifinals.
After the Edgewood game, played March 12, 1993, a major snowstorm dropped 14 inches of snow on the Mid-Atlantic region, so the title game, which was supposed to be played the next day, was moved to March 17 and that had positive and negative effects for the Bulls.
Against Edgewood, Mathews was hit in the head and he required stitches.
“He got knocked out in the semifinal game, but then it snowed and it got postponed to the following week and I thought that was a good thing,” said Power, who stayed and scouted the Allegheny game after his Bulls won.
In that semifinal, Allegheny’s best player, D.J. Jessie, scored the game-winning basket in a victory over Pocomoke.
“They ran a double screen low and their best player had come off a double screen and won it, and I had seen it, and so we are up two in the final game and they called a time out and I had forgotten what their play was,” Power said. “You remember funny things like that, but mostly I remember the kids and how much they put into it and how excited they were.”
In the championship game, Mathews had given Hereford a 43-41 lead on a turnaround jumper with 1:04 left, but Jessie hit the game-tying 20-footer behind the double screen to send the game into overtime.
Jessie scored six of his 24 points in overtime to seal the win.
Fowble, who averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds per game, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Wingeart had seven points and 10 rebounds.
Mathews, hounded by double teams, had seven points.
But, it’s not the numbers that Power remembers most.
“Going down to Cole Field House was like Hoosiers,” he recalled “We walked around that afternoon and looked at the basket and we were in awe of everything, went to the locker rooms and were tremendously excited.”
Like the 1968 team, Power praised his team’s unity and chemistry.
While Mathews was strictly a one-sport athlete, Wingeart, Saunders and Bailey also played for Power and Trotta on the soccer team.
Saunders is 15th (673) on the career scoring list and Bailey is 16th (659).
“It was a family thing that’s why we tried to keep them in house,” Power said.
Current Hereford coach Jim Rhoads has also had to recruit talented athletes from other sports to play, along with players who focus only on basketball, and Power was impressed when he came back for the game against Winters Mill on the night his 1993 team was honored.
“Jim Rhoads did a heckuva job and it was really gratifying to see, and the style of play was so much faster than anything I can remember,” Power said. “It was fun.”