February 26, 2014 - As long-time head coach Dan Fife took his spot underneath the basket to watch the Wolves warm up one by one his players revealed a surprise for him.
North Farmington Coach Todd Negoshian gives the game ball to Dan Fife after his 600th win. (click for larger version)
Underneath their long sleeved warm-up shirts they wore a navy T-shirt with stark white lettering saying "600."
It represented the 600th win Fife achieved last Wednesday in an overtime thriller against North Farmington, 47-39.
"I was totally stunned the kids came out in those shirts," his eyes sparkled. "I didn't know about it. Everyone is making a big deal about it. I have gotten so many phone calls, emails, and texts. It is humbling to have all of that. I would love to have 32 years of players in here, in the gym, with me because without them it wouldn't have happened."
Fife added if it wasn't for those teams he wouldn't be where he is today.
"Being able to be with these kids has kept me stay young and helped with energy," he smiled. "It revitalizes you even through the negative. You just get through it. It has been enjoyable. I have been fortunate to be raised in a great town. We have a strong community following."
Within the strong community he pointed out great support comes from families, the teaching staff and the administration.
It also helps the players don't start playing basketball in middle school but younger as part of the McGrath League in the winter time as well as Fife Fundamentals Basketball and Dan Fife Basketball camp during the summer.
"I have watched Nick Owens, Andrew Swanson, Mitch Heaton, Jonah Newblatt, all these kids now on varsity," he smiled. "You watch them grow and now they are playing games. They used to come to games with their McGrath T-shirts down to their knees.
"To see them grow up in Clarkston, fulfill their dreams and be successful is just awesome."
He added it has been great to spend his 32 years coaching at one school and one community.
"Very few people can say that," he said.
So few that he is the third coach to accomplish 600 victories at one school. Fife's record is in the top ten of the MHSAA Varsity Basketball victories. He hit the milestone of 500 wins just four years ago in the Wolves' played thier last game ever against Pontiac Central.
"I owe all this to everyone," he said. "It is not Dan Fife it is this community. I have been very blessed."
The Wolves gave Fife his 601st win last Friday when they hosted Southfield-Lathrup as students in the Jungle waved signs saying "601."
They beat the Chargers, 58-42. with senior Michael Nicholson leading the team with 13 points.
Junior Andrew Myers was first to get on the board and the Chargers tied on with two shots from the free throw line. They built off of it to take the lead by four points.
But baskets from sophomore Tabin Throgmorton and junior Jonah Newblatt held Southfield-Lathrup at bay as the Wolves finished the first quarter ahead 14-10.
Both teams kept close on the board through the next quarter and the Wolves were without Nicholson due to foul trouble. Throgmorton kept the Wolves in the lead as the first half finished and the boys led 26-22.
"We dodged a bullet in the first half," Fife said. "We had 10 turnovers. It was from lack of concentration and focus on our part. You can't have 10 turnovers at the top."
He added Newblatt added a boost in those eight minutes.
"He has gone through some tough times so it was good to see him score those points," Fife said. "Jonah has started a lot of games so he is used to game conditions and those guys work hard in practice. He is getting his confidence back from being hurt for a year and a half. He is getting to feel better and move better. I am proud of how he came in and how he played. He was the difference in the game because if we don't get those baskets we are in trouble. He really kept us in the game."
Nicholson was back in the second half and made his presence felt in the third quarter by scoring six points in a span of a few minutes and help the Wolves continue their lead.
"He was better," Fife said. "With Mike a lot of times he doesn't have to score to be a factor in the game because he is so long and changes shots so well. He gets a lot of rebounds."
He added during the second half the boys were more concise.
"We made a couple of baskets which helped us."
The win put Fife's overall record at 601-162 and the Wolves overall season record at 15-3 and 11-1 in OAA Red.
The Wolves held their last home game on Tuesday against Bloomfield Hills. They head to Rochester on Thursday before beginning the post season.
They open MHSAA Districts on Monday against Rochester Adams at Lake Orion High School, 7 p.m.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007. Follow Clarkston sports on Twitter @CNewsWRSports.