Skip to main content

Centerville's secret to a 45-game winning streak heading into the state championship? Prioritizing process over results

6-foot-7 senior Rich Rolf: “Our mindset is to not seek comfort, and that is what got us this far.”

By Ryan Isley | Photos by Ben Jackson

DAYTON, Ohio — Surrender the outcome.

That's been the mantra for Centerville, which has won 45 games in a row.

The latest victory for the defending OHSAA Division I state champions came when the Elks steamrolled St. Ignatius 64-33 in the state semifinals Saturday night to run their record to 29-0.

“We talk about surrendering the outcome and just preparing yourself to play and just letting it go,” Centerville coach Brook Cupps said. “That seems really easy, but that’s really hard to do, and this group has done an incredible job of that.”

The outcome Saturday was never in doubt, as Centerville jumped out to a 15-7 lead after one quarter and led 29-13 at the half. 

The Elks were led — as they have been all season — by the trio of Gabe Cupps, Tom House and Rich Rolf, who combined to score 40 points in the semifinal win.

Cupps led the way with 15 (on 5-for-5 shooting from the field), House had 13 and Rolf added 12.

Ben Jackson Centerville Miamisburg boys.7

That group also led Centerville to the Division I state title last year, winning their last 16 games of the season after a setback against St. Vincent-St. Mary on Jan. 30. The Elks haven’t lost since. 

But that hasn't been on the minds of the players this season, and up next is a tough Pickerington Central team in the state championship game Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

“We haven’t talked about it, and I feel like our mindset hasn’t even been on our streak,” Rolf said. “Our mindset is to not seek comfort, and that is what got us this far.”

“No comfort” seems to be a buzz phrase around the Elks program. 

When asked about the streak and the chance for an undefeated season, Gabe Cupps used the same words, even though he was nowhere near Rolf when he said them.

“It’s just something that comes from the process and the goal of seeking no comfort that we set at the beginning of the season,” Gabe Cupps said. “It’s a lot of great guys that could be other places. They are coming together and surrendering their role and ego.”

But why has Centerville been able to put together this streak and a chance for back-to-back state titles after never making the state semifinals before last season? 

The Elks follow the system, and they cherish the chance to play together as many times as they possibly can.

“We have a special group of guys that have stayed very faithful to the process,” Brook Cupps said. “They have not strayed from it. ... Every one of those opportunities to go play together is something they don’t want to take for granted.”

While most teams might feel the pressure of a possible perfect season, Centerville has come at it from a different angle — the Elks don’t worry about the result. They play the game and let the chips fall where they may.

“We may win, we may lose, but we are going to be good with that result,” Brook Cupps said. “This group has done that. Part of the reason we have won is we have released ourselves from the fear of not winning. They just play.”

The younger Cupps echoed his dad’s thoughts.

“We just play, man,” Gabe Cupps said. “That’s all we do.”

And Sunday night, they play for a chance at perfection.

Ben Jackson Centerville Miamisburg boys.4