Centralia Boys Basketball-Winningest Team in the Nation
2100 East Calumet
Centralia, Illinois 62801
Winningest Team in the Nation
The Centralia High School boys’ basketball program is one of the most storied in the state, having reached the IHSA State Finals 24 times (the first coming in 1909), which has resulted in three state championships. That type of long-term success led the school to become the winningest high school program in the country, as it notched the program’s 2,000 win during the 2007-08 season.
The Orphans eventually relinquished that mantle to Dobyns Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee, but regained it on March 1, 2016 with a 67-35 win over Salem in the IHSA Regional Semfinal round.
Centralia’s 2,198 wins are two better than Dobyns Bennett’s (2,196), whose season is over with a 5-21 record this year (2016).
The father of the “Orphans”
The Orphans, formed in 1906, first entered the national spotlight in the 1940’s, under head coach Arthur L. Trout. Trout truly “made” the Orphans, leading them to more than 800 victories over a 36-year career and christening the team with its truly unusual name.
Centralia is the only town in the United States-it’s probably even safe to say “in North America”-with a team named “Orphans.” But the team didn’t start that way. Early in Trout’s tenure, the red-and-white suited players were known variously as Cardinals, Redbirds, and even Troutmen. But the Coach apparently wanted something more distinctive.
According to some, Trout named the team after his favorite movie, the 1922 silent classic Orphans of the Storm. But the true origins of the name have become the stuff of local legend. In his book Trout: The Old Man and the Orphans, author Don Schnake suggest that some people thought the boys on the team looked “as sad as a band of unwanted orphans.” It’s also known that the frugal Trout had his players pick their uniforms from a stack of leftovers from past years. “When two players arrived on the floor at the same time in matching uniforms, it was by accident, not design,” Schnake writes. Again, fans were reminded of poor, neglected orphans.
Whatever the origin, the moniker stuck. And although some opponents may snicker when they hear Centralia’s cheerleaders shout, “O-R-P-H-A-N-S! Orphans are the very best,” the players take pride in having a name unique in all of basketball.