ENTERPRISE — Two individuals who could stake a claim to the Mount Rushmore of Oregon high school girls basketball coaches — especially at the small-school level — will square off in a unique matchup — one that hasn’t happened in close to 20 years.
When Enterprise hosts Crane at noon Wednesday, June 16, it will pit Enterprise coach Mike Crawford and his 505 career wins against Crane coach Stub Travis and his 504 career wins (win totals as of Monday).
Only eight coaches have ever won 500 games in girls basketball in Oregon history. Crawford was the seventh to reach the feat in February 2020. Travis reached the milestone in May of this year, making him the latest to join the club, according to ORHSsportsrecords.com. (The site does not have a record for Travis’ first season in Crane in 1994).
The similarities between the coaches are plenty. In addition to both being in the 500-win club, both have coached their squads to state championships (Crawford in 1996, Travis in 2004 and 2020). Both have decades under their belt at their respective schools (Travis is in his 26th season, Crawford his 32nd). And both pointed to their players as part of what has allowed them to have a successful career.
“I’ve had great athletes,” Travis said. “That helps, and kind of built a program where we are doing a lot of summer stuff. When I first started a lot of teams weren’t doing summer stuff. It was definitely an advantage. I started probably 18 years ago having a camp at Crane and expanding it each year. I bring in college coaches. Definitely having a lot of great athletes through the years (helps).”
Crawford added the backing of the community — in addition to top-level athletes — is vital.
“In order to survive as long as I have in (this) job, I’ve had a lot of community support, also, that has helped the program and supported the program,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing when you are in a small community. (You) get to know a lot of people, good families, good parents. In my career I’ve been fortunate that I have had good families (and) kids who want to be a part of the program.”
Prior to Wednesday, only two Oregon girls coaches with at least 500 wins had ever met after reaching that milestone — Lake Oswego’s Gary Lavender and Oregon City’s Brad Smith, as the two schools are longtime Three Rivers League rivals. Both coaches reached 500 during the 2001-02 season, and faced off on several occasions with 500 Ws until Lavender retired after the 2004 season with 544 wins. Smith, the winningest coach in Oregon history, called it a career two years later with 628.
It’s not the first time the Mustangs under Travis — who has an additional 70 wins during three seasons coaching the Crane boys program — have face the Outlaws under Crawford, though the teams didn’t meet until two years ago. They played early in the 2018-19 season in Enterprise, and again in the 2019-20 season in Crane, with the Mustangs winning both contests — 53-44 in the initial contest, and 49-29 the following year.
The two have a longer history coaching in summer camps, and met years ago at the Pine Eagle basketball camp.
Travis said the work Crawford does outside of the regular season is a big part of the success he has had.
“He does a lot of stuff in the offseason,” Travis said of Crawford. “I remember when I first started going up there to (the camp at) Pine Eagle, the number of kids he would bring, he was bringing 30 kids or more up there. He had a great turnout every year. I was amazed how many kids he would bring up to camp. That is a big part of his success. He has built a good program and had great turnout each year, and commitment for his players.”
Crawford said that like himself, Travis has had a good run with athletes, but has a group currently that has grown a lot.
“He had a young group, this group he has right now, that showed some moxie,” Crawford said of the Mustangs in 2018-19. “Up tempo, aggressive defense (and it’s) always good to have a big girl in the middle. Seeing him one year later and the distance they had come … I knew they would be a tough beat for anybody.”
Off the court, the two share interests, too.
“Stub is a really level-headed, down-to-earth guy,” Crawford said. “I like to hunt and fish, he likes to hunt and fish. We hit it off for the first time I met him.”
Neither is too focused on their career win totals, but both will be working hard to steer their teams to another in Wednesday’s once-in-a-generation matchup.
“It’s rare. There is no doubt,” Crawford said. “Stub and I both barely broke the 500 mark, so to have it happen is pretty unique.”