Crete’s John Larsen one victory away from all-time wins record

Crete's girls basketball coach will go for a record 627 career wins on Friday when the Cardinals host Aurora.

CRETE, Neb. (KLKN) — John Larsen doesn’t like the attention. The longtime girls basketball coach prefers to credit his players and assistants to his success.

But Larsen is in the spotlight once again, whether he likes it or not. The Crete girls basketball coach won his 626th game last Tuesday, tying former Adams/Freeman coach Ken Cook for the most wins in state history in girls basketball.

“I’m old, and I’ve had a lot of great players,” Larsen said in an interview with Channel 8. “A lot of great assistant coaches. Those things combined contributed to the 626.”

Most of Larsen’s wins came during his 31 years as the head girls basketball coach at Lincoln Southeast. He led the Knights to 24 state tournament appearances and nine titles during that stretch, building a powerhouse at Southeast.

“They didn’t care about the individual,” Larsen said. “They cared about the team. That’s what made us successful.”

However, Larsen’s time at Southeast abruptly ended in 2011, when he was cited for a DUI following a loss in the state tournament. Larsen didn’t coach girls basketball again for seven years.

“I think I’m more careful about my choices,”Larsen said. “I think I’m more aware of how choices effect other people. That’s one of the things I preach to the kids you know? Your choices can be good or bad and they can end up with good or bad consequences. You have to live with those.”

Larsen moved past the incident, but never let himself forget it. Always learning from his past mistakes.

In 2018, Crete came calling with an open coaching job. Larsen jumped at the opportunity.

Since then, he’s led the Cardinals to a runner-up finish in 2019 and then a Class B championship in 2020, the school’s first title since 1981. Again, Larsen credited his players.

“I’m just kind of the director. They follow me so it’s more about them.”

Fast forward to 2021, Larsen and Crete are again in the thick of the Class B title race. The Cardinals are 18-2 and third in the wildcard standings.

Larsen will get his first crack at the all-time wins record on Friday when the Cardinals host Aurora at 6:00 p.m. If it happens then, Larsen will take in the moment. But he’s not going to worry about it, at least not for himself.

“A few years from now it will mean a lot more,” Larsen said. “I’m more concerned about getting to win No. 19 and then to 20. You know, see where we can go if we can get to the state tournament. The record would be nice. Probably more for my family and friends then it is for me to be honest with ya.”


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