A high school basketball miracle in Minnesota

CLIMAX, Minn. -- Since 2011, the Climax-Fisher High School Lady Knights have been booting and bobbling their way into the record books. This team from western Minnesota somehow strung together 84 straight losses - that's four straight years of ridicule.

"People always make fun of you," said Michaela Burstad.

"It's honestly embarrassing to lose that many games," added Emily Love.

But the team's coach, Jonathan Vonesh, told me he's impressed by his players.

"We lost a game 90-3," said Vonesh. "But those kids played like it was 5-5."

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Climax-Fisher High School Lady Knights Coach Jonathan Vonesh
CBS News

Jonathan says a few girls have quit but the ones that remain are more determined than ever to turn this team around. Which is why it was so heartening to see what happened last month. In their game against Bagley High School, the Climax-Fisher Lady Nights, in white, got off to one of their best starts in recent memory. At half-time they were actually leading by a point.

"I just felt like, wow, we are in this," said Heather Grove.

"And the crowd was getting into it which made it even better," added teammate Grace Bowling.

But then things went really wrong. Unfortunately, in the second half, they got in major foul trouble. One by one, their seniors fouled out of the game. All of them. Before it was over, the juniors would be gone too. In fact, for the last three minutes, they only had three girls left -- two sophomores and a freshman -- the most inexperienced players on the losingest team in the state.

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Foul trouble reduced the Lady Knights to just three players
CBS News

"Are you telling them we can win this?" I asked coach Vonesh.

"I don't think I used that term, I said you continue working 'til the end," he answered.

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The Lady Knights make a foul shot late in the game
CBS News

And that's really all their coach was expecting, a valiant effort. You can't win three on five. In fact, they didn't score once from the field. But they did play stellar defense. And when they did get the ball, they were able to draw some fouls. And when they did draw those fouls, they made those free throws. Enough of them that when the buzzer sounded, the Lady Knights of Climax Fisher were on a new streak.

"All of us jumped out of our seats," recalled Love.

"We were all hugging and crying and screaming our heads off," said Grove.

"It was probably the best moment of my life," added Adrianna Vasek.

And whether they ever win another game or not, they will never be the same team again.

"You kind of learn that no matter what people say about you, if you keep putting in the time and effort, that it will pay off," Burstad told me.

And there's a lesson that will last a lot longer than a basketball season.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.