On the edge of northeast El Paso—right off Dyer Street—there’s a high school basketball program whose run of dominance will go down in not just the city’s record books, but the state of Texas’ as well.  

The Chapin boys basketball program, led by head coach Rodney Lewis, has won 65 straight games against El Paso area teams, and they are currently ranked No. 4 among 5A teams from the state of Texas by TABC (Texas Association of Coaches).

Their unprecedented run has been led by a plethora of different stars in different years, highlighted by standouts such as Arizona freshman KJ Lewis, UTEP sophomore Antwonne Holmes, and UNK freshman Bryson Goldsmith. This year, the Huskies have seen senior Brandon Hymes and junior Jayden Leverett step up to continue the program’s winning ways.  

But, as is the case with most dominant runs in sports, this version of the Huskies’ program wasn’t built overnight.

Building a dominant winner requires a special coach: Rodney Lewis


Before Lewis was hired in 2018, Chapin hadn’t had a 20-win season in al


most a decade, having an eight-year stretch that resulted in just one winning season. That was a far cry from all the winning the school had experienced since its opening in 2000, which constituted a change at the head coaching position. Lewis was officially introduced as Chapin head coach in the summer of 2018. 

Lewis’ journey to becoming a head coach was not easy. He started his coaching career at Chapin in the early 2000’s as an assistant before moving to Andress to work under legendary head coach Jim Forbes in the same position. While at Andress, Lewis helped the Eagles turn into a perennial power across both the city and the state. His time there was highlighted by multiple deep runs into the Texas state playoffs, including a final four appearance in 2015. That team remains one of the only El Paso squads to make it to the final four.  

After over 14 years of coaching in El Paso, Lewis took an assistant coaching job at Apollo High School in Glendale, Arizona. In his one year at Apollo, the Hawks went 17-12 and made it the elite 8 in the Arizona state playoffs.  

Meanwhile, back in El Paso, Chapin had just finished up another disappointing season at 14-18. The Huskies fell in the first round of the playoffs to Eastlake. They only had one playoff win since 2010 and were on a 16-game losing streak against their northeast rivals Andress. It was time for a change, and Lewis was the obvious choice for the job. 

"There is a rich history at Chapin, there is a rich history in the Northeast," Lewis told the El Paso Times’ Felix Chavez in an interview after he was hired. "I want to help them get back on the right track competing for district titles and going far in the playoffs. There are only two schools I'd come back to El Paso for and that was Andress and Chapin." 

It’s safe to say he has got the Huskies on the right track. In his first year at the helm, the Huskies posted their best record since 2010, going 16-14, and had only their third winning district record in eight years.  

Year two would have even more winning in store, as Lewis led his squad to their best record in over a decade. They went 26-6 and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2009. They won their bi-district championship game against El Dorado before falling to Wichita Falls Rider in the next round. Nonetheless, in only two years, Lewis had put Chapin back on the map. A once storied program was again one of the best teams in the city.  

Perhaps the most important part of their 26-win season was how young and talented the Huskies were. Led by the aforementioned Lewis and Holmes, the Huskies also had stars like Manuel Flores, James Holmes, and Michael Herrera. All seven of their top scorers were slated to return. Chapin was back, and better than ever.  

Even a pandemic-shortened season couldn’t halt the momentum coach Lewis and the Huskies had built since his arrival, and Chapin would go 21-2. Their 91% winning percentage is one of the best in El Paso history and they beat Andress for the first time since 2010, breaking a 20-game losing streak against their rivals.  

The trio of Lewis, Flores, and Holmes dominated in the backcourt, with Lewis putting up over 24 points per game. After losing in the area round of the playoffs the year prior, Chapin was eager to prove they could compete at the state level. They did just that with a sweet 16 run. 

It started off with a convincing 18-point victory against Horizon in the bi-district round, following that with a nice 79-67 win over Plainview to become area champions for the first time since 2009. That set up an El Paso showdown against Ysleta in the regional quarterfinals, which resulted in a 76-41 Chapin win. 

Just like that, Chapin was in the sweet 16. They would fall to Mansfield Summit 64-56 to end a historic season. But, as it goes with a lot of winning teams, people doubted whether Chapin could replicate their success. 

Little did they know, they were just getting started. 

In 2021, Chapin was coming off their sweet 16 appearance. Since being hired in 2018, head coach Rodney Lewis had led the Huskies to back-to-back playoff appearances, 2 bi-district championships, an area championship, and now a sweet 16 appearance. Turning around a program that quick doesn’t come without establishing a culture, which is what Lewis did when he first arrived at Chapin. 

In the northeast, basketball is different

To understand how Lewis instilled such a strong culture so quickly at Chapin, we first have to understand how in northeast El Paso, basketball culture runs deep.

Schools like Parkland, Andress, and Irvin have all experienced their share of success on the court. So, naturally, when Chapin opened in 2000, they immediately became one of the better programs in the city. Tom Shukitt, the first coach for the Huskies, jumpstarted the program and made it one of the most respected in the city. He did that with the help of an abundance of talented players, but none better than Cliff Tucker.  

Perhaps the greatest basketball player to come out of El Paso, Tucker was a four-time all-district and all-city selection at Chapin, which resulted in him becoming a top 100 recruit in the nation. The 6-6 forward averaged 21.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.4 steals, and 2.8 blocked shots per game as a senior, which won him the 2007 El Paso Times' Boys Basketball Co-MVP. He would sign to Maryland to continue his basketball career, where he played in over 130 games for the Terrapins. He would end up transferring to UTEP to play football in 2011. 

Sadly, Tucker tragically passed away in the summer of 2018 in a car crash. His death shook the community, as the 29-year-old had become an inspiration to young athletes around El Paso. As former Chapin boys' basketball coach Toraino Johnson said “Cliff meant a lot to El Paso, he meant a lot to the community here in the Northeast part of the city. He was a great person, who accomplished so much." 

Eight months later, the then first year head coach Rodney Lewis retired Tucker’s number #21. A ceremony was held before the Huskies game against Andress. Along with retiring Tucker’s number, a banner was also hung in his honor, in front of the gym.  

"Cliff had so many coaches come watch him that he would ask me to open up the Andress gym to give others a chance to get looked at by the college coaches. That's how unselfish he was," Lewis said during the ceremony.  

Tucker was the embodiment of northeast El Paso. He wanted his community to succeed along with himself. While establishing a culture at Chapin, Lewis made sure to emphasize Tuckers impact to his players. His teams carried on Tucker’s legacy on the court, playing not only for themselves, but for players like Tucker. They played for the north. 

Despite the graduates, Chapin still finds ways to be relevant

Fast forward to present day, Chapin has reverted back to a powerhouse.

The 2021-22 season was an entertaining season. When the Huskies played on the road, they faced packed-out away gyms with fiery student sections. They had some classic games against teams like Andress, Franklin, and Las Cruces. The trio of Lewis, Holmes, and Flores, backed up by a great supporting cast, started 6-4, but rattled off 25 straight wins and won their second outright district championship in as many years. They took care of Horizon in the bi-district round, then, without star KJ Lewis, fended off a fiesty Tascosa team to advance to regional quarterfinals to face Palo Duro. With a chance to advance to another sweet 16, Chapin cruised against the Dons with a 20-point victory.  

Back-to-back sweet 16’s for an El Paso team is extremely improbable, but Chapin just did it. They would fall to eventual state runner up Mansfield Timberview. Nonetheless, they proved to the state of Texas they weren’t just a fluke, and were here to stay. 

In what would be the most successful season in Chapin history, the 2022-23 season brought along more doubters than anything. The Huskies lost 4 of their top 6 scorers, including the 4-star Lewis, who transferred to Duncanville in Dallas. The big three of Lewis (transfer), Flores (graduated), and Holmes (graduated) was no more.

The silent doubters questioned if Chapin could find success, but the doubt would be shushed quickly. 

While enjoying success in the games, Lewis was busy developing his younger talent in practice. Underclassmen from that 2021-22 squad like Brandon Hymes and Jayden Leverett played crucial minutes that season, while junior returnee’s Bryson Goldsmith and Diego Villanueva were awaiting their opportunity to lead the Huskies. 

Chapin opened their season with an extremly tough schedule, something that has become the norm for them under Lewis, which included traveling deep into Texas to play some of the best teams in the state. With a new look squad, the Huskies had ups and downs in their 6-5 start. They had a couple of relevant wins against Franklin and Parkland, while also battling some stiff competition hard, and still, at the time, needed to put it all together. They did exactly that in their win against Furr HS in a tournament. Furr was a top-5 4A team with state championship aspirations, and the young Huskies took them down in a complete nine point victory. 

After the 6-5 start, Chapin won 20 of their next 21 games going into the playoffs. Goldsmith broke out into an absolute star, winning the El Paso Times’ Boys All-City Basketball Player of the Year while averaging 17 points per game.

He had a strong supporting cast, with former Hanks star forward Idalius Coleman and the big man Leverett combined to be one the best front courts in the state. Hymes stepped up into a bigger role for Chapin and averaged 11 points. The Huskies were much less top-heavy and were a very balanced attack this season, with young role players like Savion Jordan, Julian Pacheco, Tobias Santiago, and Messiah Wilson all having huge impacts for their team. Anyone, at anytime, could score a bucket for Chapin. 

After falling short in back-to-back years at the regional semi-finals, Lewis and his squad were hungry for more in 2023. They began their playoff run with a convincing bi-district championship win over Bel Air. They than ran into Palo Duro again, and ending their season for the second straight season. The Huskies were once again in a position to advance to their third straight sweet 16. This time, however, their opponent was one the Huskies were familiar with. The Parkland Matadors, the Huskies other northeast rival, had made it to the regional quarterfinals and was enjoying one of their most successful runs in school history under coach Jeremy Vanley. The Matadors beat Burges and Tascosa to reach the quarterfinals, which was to be played in the Don Haskins Center. In front of nearly 4,000 loud fans, Chapin beat Parkland in a fun 56-53 affair. The Huskies controlled most of the game but fended off a fierce Parkland run late to advance to their third straight sweet 16.  

Awaiting them was Fort Worth Wyatt HS, who was on a 16-game winning straight at the time. The Huskies had fallen in this round in back-to-back years, and was looking to break the streak in Wichita Falls against Chaparrals. 

Chapin obviously would have their hands full taking on a metroplex power nearly nine hours away from home (Fort Worth is two hours away from Wichita Falls), but they weren’t going to back down.  

And despite the skeptics from around both El Paso and the state, Chapin pulled off a double-overtime win over Wyatt, as Brandon Hymes gave the Huskies the game-winning bucket with 11 seconds left in 2OT. Chapin had done it. They were going to the regional finals for the first time in school history.  

The greatest season in school history, pioneered by a tough group of players and their star head coach, would end for Chapin against Mansfield Summit 54-47. Summit, who was one of the best teams in the state, kept the game just out of reach late to secure the win.  

But for Chapin, and northeast El Paso, the Huskies had already won. Four straight bi-district championships, three straight area titles, three straight sweet 16’s, and now, an elite 8 appearance. Rodney Lewis had rebuilt Chapin back into the best team in the city, as it was in the early 2000’s. 

History aside, this year’s team is another example of a special group

Fast-forward to now, where Chapin holds its 65-game winning streak against El Paso teams and is ranked #4 in the state, Lewis may have his best team yet. Leverett has become a force in the paint, while Hymes has blossomed into a star wing. Burges transfer Osamudiamen Gbowa has stepped in and become a very important piece to his team, while their backcourt is loaded with guys who will drop 15 on any given night.  

Lewis’ team plays with a certain swagger but are also extremely humble. They force turnovers and get out in transition but can just as easily beat you in a gritty, half-court offense type of game. Lewis and his team embrace the hate they receive, using it to fuel them on the court. They’re an extremly fun team to watch. Their chemistry on the court is unmatched, and most of the time, they look like they’re having the time of their lives out there.   

And on Friday, they faced the last El Paso team that beat them, their rivals down the road, the Andress Eagles. With the spirit of the late Jim Forbes watching over them, this game is arguably the best rivalry in El Paso. The history of these two programs, the animosity, but also the connections the two schools share combines for a great game yearly.  

Chapin swiftly defeated Andress on Friday, 53-31 to improve to 3-0 in district play.

What Rodney Lewis and his team are doing is amazing. They represent the northeast side of El Paso, an area that is discredited so often, phenomenally. Get out and support this team. El Paso may never see a run like this again. 

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