The final whistle sounded, the crowd of about 500 fans stood and cheered and the public address announcer in the Carpinteria High gym intoned the making of history Tuesday night.

Lou Cvijanovich's stone-faced expression did not change.

Cvijanovich, in his 41st season as Santa Clara boys' basketball coach, became California's leader for victories in a career when his Saints routed Carpinteria, 79-47, in a nonleague game.

But to hear the 72-year-old legend tell it, his mark of 803-259 is nothing over which to get excited.

"I'm very happy," Cvijanovich said after the game, surrounded by a crush of well-wishers. "It's our fourth victory of the season."

Cvijanovich confided before the game that he is aware of his place in history and appreciative of the recognition.

But a coach who pushes and goads his players to block out any and all distractions can't let himself be caught up in such hoopla.

"Coach brought up the record before the game but [said] not to worry about it," said Nick Jones, a senior guard for the Saints. "He said it wasn't a big milestone for him and that there are bigger things down the road."

Cvijanovich's path to greatness with Santa Clara basketball began with the 1958-59 season and has included 38 playoff appearances and 14 Southern Section titles.

Santa Clara also won 29 league titles, four California regional crowns and two state championships under Cvijanovich.

But it's not numbers that warm Cvijanovich's heart, it's the connections he's made with the thousands of teenagers who have learned about basketball and life while withstanding his repeated tongue-lashings.

"When they come back and thank you for getting them through school and getting them ready for the world; I go crazy when that happens," Cvijanovich said. "And it happens almost every week."

What happened Tuesday was a mismatch as Santa Clara (4-1) ran out to a 15-0 lead late in the first quarter against a Carpinteria team with only eight players. The Warriors (1-4) are missing six athletes who will play for a Southern Section Division XI football title Saturday night.

Cvijanovich, wearing his trademark red socks, spent the game placidly seated on the end of the Saints' bench, his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped in front of him. There were virtually none of the patented outbursts at referees or his own players that have become part of local lore.

In the stands behind him, diehard Santa Clara supporters such as Dr. John Arnold and his wife Diane cheered on a team that has long had a following beyond the players' peers and parents.

"We're here to see Coach break the record but we'd probably be here anyway," said John Arnold, whose four children attended Santa Clara. "We've been coming to games since [the early 1970s] because we enjoy the way he coaches and we respect his discipline."

Santa Clara's reserves allowed Carpinteria to pull to within 12 points with three minutes to play. The Saint starters were reinserted and the backups got a lecture.

Discussion of such tactical maneuvers was more to Cvijanovich's liking after the game. But conversation turned repeatedly to his standing in the record book.

"The attention never should have been on me at all," Cvijanovich said. "In a roundabout way [the record is] a thank you to all the ballplayers I've had. The coach just pulls the strings."


Victory Parade

The top five winningest boys' basketball coaches in the state:

803--Lou Cvijanovich, Santa Clara, 1958-to date

802--Abe Abrami, Emeryville Emery HS, 1955-93

735--Frank LaPorte, Alameda St. Joseph, 1982-97

Oakland Bishop O'Dowd, 1960-70

715--Mike Phelps, Oakland Bishop O'Dowd, 1992-to date

and 1979-90

Alameda St. Joseph, 1971-78

650*--Bill Armstrong, six Southern Section schools, 1944-86

* (estimated)

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