The 1974 Gonzaga team

With a special appearance by Bob Cole!


The 1974 Gonzaga team is almost certainly the CBC-era Reach for the Top team with the most coverage today. Many Canadians are nostalgic for the games on CBC, whether through playing or watching, but few squads get as much attention as the underdog team from St. John’s. The Telegram ran a retrospective article in 2015 with the four members of the team. CBC published an article this past week in the context of a book launch about the 1974 team. In addition, the whole final match is available on YouTube (part 1, part 2).

1974 was near the beginning of Reach’s prime years. I have previously written about the paradigm shift of 1972/73, and within a year, top teams were all studying hard and becoming the most competitive teams of the CBC era. Archbishop O’Leary HS, which I believe is the birthplace of year-long practices, made it to the 1974 final as a favourite to continue the string of two consecutive titles for Alberta (O’Leary in 1972 and Lorne Jenken HS in 1973). Meanwhile, Gonzaga HS from Newfoundland, receiving a swell of local support thanks to Reach opting to film Nationals in St. John’s in celebration of the 25th anniversary of joining Confederation, was picking off established teams with a group of grade 11 students (Newfoundland, like Quebec, went only to grade 11 in high school at the time). The final was Gonzaga’s “David” to the O’Leary “Goliath”.

The final was a tale of two halves. O’Leary spent the first phase flustered with incorrect buzzes, giving Gonzaga early leads of 65-0 and then 170-30 by mid-game. O’Leary also got burned by a few tough (and possibly inconsistent) calls of “time” in the quick pace moderator Bill Guest was running. However, O’Leary started clawing back with assigned, scramble, and what-am-I questions on geography. About three-quarters of the way through, Gerry of Gonzaga accidentally hit his buzzer at the start of a question and was forced to give an impossible response; he was visibly shaken by this and went from being the most dominant player on the team to failing to give a correct answer for the rest of the match. In the final snappers phase, O’Leary was on fire and held a 280-270 lead with about one minute to go. However, two incorrect O’Leary buzzes (with -5 penalties) and the up-to-now quiet Peter’s answers of “[Beatrix] Potter” and “the” sealed the close 300-270 victory for the home team.

This was Gonzaga’s (and Newfoundland’s) only Reach title. They would continue to make national appearances consecutively until 1979, but not reach a final again. Gonzaga, as well as the whole province of Newfoundland and Labrador, did not continue participation into the SchoolReach era. O’Leary became overshadowed by Lorne Jenken for Alberta representation after this, but that province continued to make regular semifinal appearances through to the 1980s.

The 1974 team’s legacy lives on. Member Tom Harrington, a veteran host of several CBC programs over the years, holds some clout for keeping his team’s success in the public eye. While there have been some other teams of that era with notable members (including Richview’s Stephen Harper, who lost to the eventual 1978 champions), the Gonzaga team gets the spotlight. Perhaps the timing of the team winning at home at the “coming of age” 25th anniversary struck a chord. There may be a strong attachment to the show in the province since nearly every high school would have had to participate in the 1970s to fill up the broadcast schedule (Manitoba also seems to have this connection from high participation due to low population). It is also interesting that the nostalgia has not resulted in any revival of SchoolReach; though it can be difficult to manage out-of-province competition without the logistical support of a TV network.

During this offseason, I will post less often but will continue to look at past results. If there are any requests for particular topics (other than future predictions), feel free to let me know. Happy Canada Day and enjoy the summer!

Old Ontario Scores

When Reach could be picked up with bunny ears

The 2006-2009 gap in Ontario provincial tournaments is now mostly filled up. Thank you to Joe for collecting and saving the results. Here are the pages:

Most notable in these years was deviation from a field size of 40. This forced crossover matches and incomplete round-robins within a pool, which led to some teams getting rather imbalanced schedules. However, top teams usually still found their way to the playoffs, which was a whole different beast with the TVO format.

There is still some missing information on a few pages, but the database now has Ontario tournaments from 1999 to the present. Back in 1999, none of the 2018 playoff teams even participated. Things have changed!

Reach Scores Audio #22

2018 Lisgar Tournament, CB vs LCI C

Final match of the day. From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 12 match has Colonel By SS against Lisgar CI “C”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • I don’t know what I was thinking of for my comments about the 28-3 comeback game. It was Super Bowl LI. Perhaps I was sarcastically surprised it was a question about the 2017 Bowl rather than the numerous ones about the 2018 one that happened about two weeks earlier at the time.
  • The Dutch basketball team is not great, despite the height of their citizenry. They have never made the Olympics, and have infrequent qualifications to the European championships.
  • Once again, the aesthenosphere pops up. The poorly-written question suggested it was part of the crust.

Thanks for listening! This ends the series of recordings for the 2018 Lisgar tournament. As a final reminder, listening to any of these games will prevent you from playing on the questions competitively, however I suspect the circulation of this set is finished. If Lisgar writes again next year, I may reconsider recording: it was not very appropriate to hold back recordings of other people for such a long time, but releasing audio would complicate the use of the set elsewhere. I hope other regions will be open to trying an independent tournament next year as a way to improve their circuit.

Reach Scores Audio #21

2018 Lisgar Tournament, LCI B vs LCI C

From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 11 match has Lisgar CI “B” and “C”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • A much more straightforward match compared to the last one, at least until the end.
  • Will Smith is “Will Smith” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A question on the character would accept “Will”, while a question on the actor needs “Smith”.
  • I called “time” before a (correct) response, and this point swing affected the outcome of the match. It was more notable because it was the last question of the game. A moderator calling “time” cannot be protested, but thanks to this audio recording, I can show that it was fair. The buzz was at 24:13.9, I called “time” at 24:19.8 (5.9 seconds available for an answer), and the answer was given at 24:20.1.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #20

2018 Lisgar Tournament, LCI B vs CB

Time for the playoffs. I read in the middle bracket. From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 10 match has Lisgar CI “B” against Colonel By SS. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • This game is a mess. Long, distracted, riddled with errors leading to protests, and a potential tie. Fatigue was catching up to me; this was the equivalent of reading at 3AM for an average person.
  • Tracks on DAMN are not in all-caps. I don’t know why the question writers did this.
  • “Paper” for the fiber question should not have been prompted. Lisgar should have been docked 10 points, but as shown later, it didn’t change the outcome in the close match.
  • As mentioned in the previous match, a team scramble was eventually thrown out and replaced with a scramble of the four tiebreakers. There were incorrect facts for both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers as potential answers. I originally left Colonel By’s answer (and the pack’s answer) of “Mississippi” proceed if it didn’t affect the outcome of the match. It did. The original game ended in a tie (including Lisgar’s “paper” answer which wasn’t caught at this point), but Colonel By went on to earn the replacement team scramble and pick up more points, giving them an outright victory.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #19

2018 Lisgar Tournament, Glebe vs UTS A

We’re at the end of the preliminary round-robin. From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 9 match has Glebe CI against UTS “A”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • The Rhodesia question was a bit misleading because “Rhodesia” did not have its nationhood well-recognized, and because Mugabe overthrew the briefly-rerecognized colony of “Southern Rhodesia”. I accepted the latter answer and nobody felt the need to protest in this matchup.
  • There is a German performance of “As Slow As Possible” on an organ that is playing its 13th note until September 2020. It still has more than 600 years to go.
  • A team scramble was a repeat. I imagine this was a mess to sort out in closer rooms; I threw it out. Without replacement team scrambles on hand, the only way to resolve it is to awkwardly read the first tiebreaker with team scramble procedure, then continue the three unrelated tiebreakers just to the team that answers.
  • A Mersenne prime is, indeed, of the form of one less than a power of 2 (3, 7, 31, etc).

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #18

2018 Lisgar Tournament, LCI A vs LCI B

From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 8 match has Lisgar CI “A” against Lisgar CI “B”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • “Cookies” can include dessert bars and other sweet baked goods that don’t rise like a cake.
  • The Cavaliers ended up not being in a freefall after all… Lebron made it to the Finals yet again.
  • I thought there was a more popular Vader/Mufasa mash-up that circulated in the past, but here is an example of Luke denying the Circle of Life.
  • The dominant Hungarian football team lost the 1954 World Cup final. They were the heavy favourites but lost to a newly-formed West German team.
  • There is a small cut to take out a loud sound spike; I hit the desk near the microphone after, yet again, blurting out an answer while reading the question.

Thanks for listening!