SYCAMORE – It’s a question Matt Listy hears all the time.
“Everyone asks me, ’Who is Leland Strombom?’” the Sycamore man said.
His friend John Garman knows.
“He and Pete Johnson were my teachers,” Sycamore’s self-professed “Super Fan” said. “He was in industrial arts; he was my shop teacher. He also coached Pete Johnson in basketball. ...He was a special man.”
The longtime Sycamore High School coach, athletic director and administrator is also the namesake of the annual Leland G. Strombom Boys Basketball Tournament held the week of Thanksgiving at SHS.
There were seven schools besides the host school in this year’s tournament: Dundee-Crown, Power House, Newark, Burlington Central, St. Francis de Sales, Hampshire and Rockford Lutheran. The tournament began with pool play on Nov. 19 and concluded last Saturday.
The tournament has been running continually since 1963. The Spartans won the very first crown and have won the tournament more than any other school: 13 times, including four years straight, 2001-2004. Their last title was in 2007.
Entering this year’s tourney, Sycamore’s Andy Thomas held the records for the most points scored in a single game (60) and for a tournament (118), which he set in 1992.
DeKalb, which no longer plays in the tourney, has captured 10 crowns, the last coming in 1993.
West Aurora has won the most titles in a row with six, from 1970 to 1975.
Garman, who arrives an hour before the start of each game so he and Listy can claim their customary seats in the front row at half-court, figures he’s seen all but one, or maybe two, of the tournaments. The only one he clearly remembers missing is the year he went to see his friend play a college football game in Las Vegas.
“I love the Spartans,” he said, adding that he’s seen virtually every home game for the last 55 years.
Listy, who likes to chat with referees before the start of games, said he’s been going to every game with Garman for as long as he can remember.