The lucky number for Waterloo High School boys hoops is 33.
Waterloo last won the Cahokia Conference title in 1981 under coach Rick Keefe, finishing the season with a record of 20-7.
That team was made up of seven seniors and two juniors, all of them big guys who played an up-tempo style of ball averaging 70 points per game.
“We were one of the top five teams in the area. We were a very consistent team and we played very well together. We hung out together on the court and off. We were a very close team,” said Tim Lenhardt, a senior on that ’81 championship squad. “It was a lot of fun, but we underachieved at the end, unfortunately. It’s unbelievable it took us 33 years to win another conference title.”
But it did take 33 years for the ‘Dogs to get another conference title. And one of the seniors on this year’s team is Tim’s son, Shane Lenhardt.
As interesting as that is, there is one more intriguing fact: Shane’s jersey number is 33.
Was it fate, coincidence, luck or destiny? Whatever the case, it is something very special for a father and son to be able to share with future generations.
Coach (C.J.) Cruser always looks at the banners in the gym during practice because we had never won a Mississippi Valley Conference title and one day he said it’s been 33 years since we won a title and I thought that was weird it’s been that long and I wear 33,” said Shane Lenhardt of the coincidence. “I think it’s really cool. It would have been different if a team had won in between the 1981 team and us winning, but since we were both seniors and 33 years apart and I wear number 33, it was really cool.”
There are some similarities between the two title teams — both were consisted of mostly seniors and had similar regular season records — but they played a very different style of ball.
“We were not near as quick as this year’s team is,” Tim Lenhardt said of the ’81 team. “They are averaging like 49-50 points a game. It’s just the difference between an up-tempo style of coaching versus their half court set style of play. We would get 20 points a game on fast breaks and layups.
“This year’s team is much more physically gifted than our team was. I think they only allow like 40 points a game. We allowed way more than that, but our mentality was ‘we are going to score more than you do.’”
Shane has worn the number 33 since about fifth grade when he played AAU ball in St. Louis and was coached by his dad for a few years. He really had no reason for picking the number other than he just liked it.
“It’s neat, the 33-year deal and him wearing 33. He has had that number no matter where he played. Coincidence, isn’t it?” Tim Lenhardt said. “It’s just really cool.”
There’s another father-son connection between the two conference winning teams — Craig Hoffman was a junior on the ’81 team and his son, Reid, is a senior on this year’s team.
“It is very interesting and unique,” Cruser said. “I have seen 10 to 20 (years) between titles before, but 33 is a long time.”
Cruser said the hardest thing to do is win that first title.
“After that, it gets easier. Triad went 25 years between titles, then won four in a row. So maybe we can do the same. But yes, the ’33’ connection with Shane and Tim is very cool.”