Chassel Wins Title, Again
There are many great records set in high school sports in the Upper Peninsula, but most don’t last more than a few years. One record that may never be surpassed was set by the Chassell High School boys’ basketball team between 1956 and 1958. Over three consecutive seasons, the Panthers compiled 65 straight victories and three Class D State Basketball Championships.
This incredible streak began in 1956, under the leadership of head coach Ed Helakoski. Midway through the 1955-1956 season, the Panthers lost to Trout Creek. This would be the last loss for the next three years. Chassell went on to win the rest of its games, culminating with a 71-68 victory over Portland St. Patrick in the State Championship (overcoming a 15-point deficit with four minutes left to play).
The winning streak continued during the 1956-57 season, as the team survived a close call against L'anse (64-63) but won the rest of its games with by an average margin of 27 points. The team stormed through the state tournament with its closest game being the State Final against Stevensville, which Chassell won 58-50.
With the winning streak at 39 games, the Panthers began the 1957-58 season gunning for the winning streak record held by nearby Mass of 59 games in a row. This was no sure thing with only one returning starter (Don Mattson) and only 30 boys to choose from in the school. Though the team would have some close calls, it broke Mass’ record with the 60th win against Marenisco in the Districts. The Panthers would return downstate and defeated Owosso St. Paul for their third straight state championship, 66-61.
On November 24, 1958, Chassell’s record breaking streak ended when they lost the first game of the season to Ewen. Though it was a devastating loss for the team and community, it is a record that has lasted for more than 50 years. There have been a couple of schools that have contested Chassell’s record, but the winning streak of 65 games has yet to be bested.
Images courtesy of the Chassell Historical Organization.