Antelope's boys basketball team has come so far in such a short time that even coach Rob Richards admits being a little amazed.
"Never as a coach do you expect to be in the third week of February with only one loss," Richards said.
No. 4 Antelope is on a monster roll: 24 consecutive wins and an average margin of victory of more than 20 points in Capital Athletic League play.
The latest to fall was visiting Rio Americano 72-53 Wednesday night in front of Antelope's boisterous Red Zone student rooting section on Senior Night. It also was Richards' 200th coaching win, which fans celebrated by waving "Mr. 200" signs after the game.
Antelope, which led by as many as 27 points early in the fourth quarter, was led by its dynamic junior duo of 6-foot-5 Gabe Bealer, who scored a game-high 17 points and 6-6 Isaiah Ellis, who added 15 points and six blocks.
Mason Pigman's 13 points topped Rio Americano (11-14, 6-3), which entered the game still in contention for a co-championship.
With the win, Antelope (25-1, 9-0) secured the outright CAL title. Last season, their first with a senior class, the Titans shared the title with Cordova en route to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II final and CIF Northern California Regional semifinals.
Now the Titans are threatening to do even more.
They are the top-seeded team in D-II and last lost 64-54 to No. 8 Franklin on Dec. 2 in the Bella Vista tournament, the Titans' second game of the season.
"This is all a little surreal," Richards said. "I'm beyond ecstatic. Most coaches don't ever get a season like this."
What's pleased Richards most is that his players have maintained their competitive edge despite playing in a down league this season. Only El Camino, which lost to Antelope 56-51 in the league opener Jan. 17, has lost by fewer than 14 points to the Titans.
The senior trio of Jarvis Watkins, Caleb King and Kei'Shaun Sinclair provide the leadership, while Bealer and Ellis are twin forces around the basket and beyond.
Ellis is a shot-blocking force (71 total) averaging 12.3 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Bealer grew up playing basketball with his teammates but attended Jesuit his first two seasons. He's the Titans' leading scorer (16.6 points per game) and second-leading rebounder (5.7).
"Gabe has grown up with these guys since elementary school," Richards said. "He's come in, and it's almost as if he's been with us the last 2 1/2 years. Chemistry is so important for teams that want to go deep into March."