The Chelmsford girls hoops coach passes 200 wins with no signs of slowing up.
Back on January 24, Kevin Branco won his 200th game in his 20th season as the head coach of the Chelmsford High School girls basketball team. The Lions traveled to defeat Lowell 38-28 in a sloppy game which at the time boosted Chelmsford to an 11-1 overall record.
After that, Branco won game No. 201 with a 48-29 win over Dracut. The tally now stands at 205 heading into the final week of the regular season.
After the final buzzer went off in the win over Lowell, quickly the Chelmsford players and assistant coaches gave hugs and celebrated with Branco for reaching the incredible milestone. He was presented with a signed ball from the team and then took many pictures with family, friends and former players.
“This is just about the kids and all of their families, who have been with me and my entire coaching staff, past and present, with Sherrill (Erickson) and then Jenn (O’Rourke) who played for me,” he said.
“And just having kids come back (after they graduate). We have a lot of kids in the program who come back and we stay in touch with. The 200 wins is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really about having a positive program. I think it’s either 13 or 14 times of the 20 years that we have made the state tournament. It means a real lot to me, especially to do with this group as they are one of the better teams I’ve had here in a long time.”
Chelmsford had the lead right from the get-go and never looked back, despite many turnovers and missed bunnies and free throws. They led 17-10 at the half before breaking it open in the second half. Senior Hannah Polce led the way with 14 total points and she also had nine rebounds.
“To get 200 wins is very impressive,” said Chelmsford Athletic Director Dan Hart. “Kevin’s teams have been a part of the large school division and the small school division and he’s had success in both. He’s a basketball lifer. The girls absolutely love playing for him. He coaches with a lot of intensity and he’s always into it. His biggest strength is the relationships he builds with everyone, but especially the kids. They love playing for him and would run through a wall for him.”
Branco was a three-sport athlete at CHS, playing football, basketball and tennis, graduating in 1992. From there he went to Westfield State and took on a new sport of baseball. After graduating, he knew that he wanted to get into coaching immediately and he served as the JV Girls Coach at Tewksbury High for two years, before being named the head coach at CHS. Over the 20 years, he also served as the head boys’ tennis coach an an assistant football coach.
“Honestly, I got lucky coming here. I was over at Tewksbury, just to get some experience because you’re not going to get a job in the MVC without any experience,” he said. “When this job opened up, I jumped on it and have loved it ever since. I have loved every second of it. The girls game is a little bit more technical in terms of running sets and stuff like that, but when they all work together, it’s pretty special to see.”