SALEM — Several hundred fans stood up to chant: “OIT, OIT, OIT.”
As the clock ticked down, Danny Miles called time out. He wanted to make sure every player in uniform was able to be part of a special moment as the veteran coach reached 1,000 career victories.
“The atmosphere was just amazing,” senior Mihajlo Matic, the only player to also play in Miles’ 900th career victory, said after the Hustlin’ Owls posted a 71-51 victory at Corban University.
“It’s amazing,” Derek Evans, who scored OIT’s first points in the game, said. “Honestly, I never expected to be part of something like this, to be part of history. Coach deserves this more than anything.”
“It’s a relief,” Miles said.
Unlike victories No. 800, also on the C.E. Jeffers Sports Center court, and No. 900, it took OIT three tries to allow Miles to join an elite group of people, and just the second men’s coach at a four-year university to reach the milestone.
“(Saturday) was the first time I talked to the players about 1,000 wins, and I told them to please get it over with,” Miles said.
“He’s so humble that it’s just a big deal,” Kyle Waits said after one of his best all-around games this season. “When he got choked up (during a post-game presentation by Corban president Sheldon Nord, who once worked at OIT), I knew what it meant to him.
“I’m just so happy for him,” Waits said.
“There was so much pressure,” Miles said. “There were so many people who traveled so far the last two weeks to see us win And I can’t think of a better place to win (the 1,000th game) than here. This place has been special to us.”
There were two lead changes before the Hustlin’ Owls took control of the game and worked their way to a 48-34 halftime lead. Tech held its biggest lead at 21 points with five minutes to play.
“My mindset really was that I was happy to win on the road,” Waits said of an OIT team that has lost several close Cascade Collegiate Conference games away from the friendly confines of Danny Miles Court, where the team will play its next three games.
Special H&N souvenir 1,000-win sections will be included for fans who watch Friday’s game against The Evergreen State College.
A special Klamath Falls celebration will be part of Friday’s activities, and 1,000-win T-shirts will be on sale when the Hustlin’ Owls look to enhance their playoff hopes with three games at home.
Waits had 15 OIT points, and seven rebounds … Brandon Bautista, whose two free throws gave Tech a 68-47 lead, scored 12 points, and Austen Flint 10 … Josh Johnson also had seven rebounds … Jordan Carter led Corban with 16 points, and Josiah Sebens had eight rebounds.