When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.
The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.
The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.
Now, with the calendar inching closer to wrapping up an unforgettable 2020, the end of this month closes out another decade. And it’s another high school basketball time period to look back on.
This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.
We present No. 33 West Aurora today and will add one program a day going forward.
33. West Aurora: 202-97
Decade’s biggest storyline: The retirement of legendary coach Gordie Kerkman, along with an accompanying storyline of a super-sectional appearance in his final season as coach, stands out above everyone thing else.
In Kerkman’s final season, West Aurora entered the postseason as the No. 6 sectional seed. The Blackhawks pulled off upset wins over Wheaton North, York and Hinsdale Central before falling to Bolingbrook, 50-49, in the super-sectional.
Kerkman retired following the 2014-15 season after compiling 805 career wins. In 39 years as head coach, Kerkman won 24 regionals, 13 sectional titles and made 11 state quarterfinal appearances. Kerkman and the Blackhawks captured a state championship in 2000 and retired as one of the greatest and most accomplished coaches in state history.
Underrated highlight: In coach Brian Johnson’s third season as head coach, the Blackhawks won regional and sectional championships. The 25-win Blackhawks’ run ended in the super-sectional with a loss to eventual state champion Belleville West and EJ Liddell.
Player of the Decade: Jontrell Walker (2014)
All-Decade Team: Juwan Starks (2012), Jontrell Walker (2014), Roland Griffin (2015), Camron Donatlan (2018) and Jared Crutcher (2018)
Other decade highlights:
-The overall program’s success this past decade was aided by just two Division I players — Roland Griffin and Jontrell Walker.
-In a program with as much history, tradition and talent as West Aurora, the fact the all-time scoring record was broken twice during the decade is a significant highlight. First, Juwan Starks broke the career scoring mark with 1,627 career points in 2012. And then guard Jontrell Walker broke it with 1,773 points in 2014. Overall, Walker was one of the real under-appreciated players in the state his senior year as he averaged 23.4 points a game.
-Jontrell Walker set the school record for most three-pointers with 189 in his career.
-Coach Gordie Kerkman surpassed both the 700 and 800 win coaching milestones during the decade.
-The 28 wins in 2018-19 were the most wins by a West Aurora team since 2005-06.