EASTON — With just under two minutes left to play Friday night, and the Oliver Ames girls’ basketball team well on its way to a 72-49 Hockomock League win over Mansfield, the student section at William Nixon Gymnasium erupted with a unique, but fitting, chant.
“Seven hundred. . . . Seven hundred . . . Seven hundred.”
At the age of 22, straight out of Bridgewater State College, Laney Clement-Holbrook was hired at Oliver Ames, initially coaching freshman field hockey.
The following year, she was named girls’ varsity basketball coach.
In 2016, Clement-Holbrook passed Frontier Regional legend Vi Goodnow for the most career victories (634) by a girls’ basketball coach in state history.
And Friday night, in her 44th season, the Dedham native reached career win No. 700.
“It’s incredible,” said OA sophomore Caroline Peper, who scored a game-high 21 points for the the 17th-ranked Tigers (13-3).
“It’s such a legacy. I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
And so were many of Clement-Holbrook’s former players who were in attendance for her milestone win.
This is her legacy: 41 state tournament appearances in 44 seasons, 17 Hockomock League titles, a pair of Division 2 state championships, and a 700-237 record.
“I’m just so grateful for having had the chance to be here for so long,” she said. “It’s the first place and the last place I’ve coached. It’s a special moment for me.”
Oliver Ames athletic director Bill Matthews calls Clement-Holbrook a tremendous colleague.
“It’s a privilege to work with her,” he said. “Anyone that aspires to be a coach, she would be an ideal role model for them.”
Clement-Holbrook taught health, physical education, general science, and biology at the school until her retirement in 2011.
Clement-Holbrook mentioned Sue Rivard, Val Muscato. the namesake of OA’s outdoor stadium, and Bill Nixon, whom the gym is named after, as three of her mentors.
“This is a place where legends were born,” Clement-Holbrook said. “I will forever be indebted to them for all the lessons that they taught me.”
Clement-Holbrook and Bentley women’s coach Barbara Stevens, who has amassed 1,054 career wins, were classmates in college.
In advance of her close friend reaching the milestone, Stevens said “To reach a milestone such as the one Laney Clement-Holbrook is on the doorstep of tonight is not only a tremendous accomplishment but an indication of consistent excellence.
“Laney has worked year after year to produce winning teams . . . and in doing so, firmly establishes herself as one of the best high school coaches, women or men, in the state.”
Friday morning, Clement-Holbrook was the keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Celebration of Girls and Women in Sport Day at Faneuil Hall. The crowd of nearly 300 student-athletes from 142 MIAA schools responded to her speech with a standing ovation.
“What an incredible honor it was to walk into Faneuil Hall and be a part of such a historic event,” she said.
From there, she prepared for the Mansfield matchup. Her Tigers are back on the court Tuesday night at top-ranked Franklin, and she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.