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Van Dusen, coach of legendary Belleville teams, dies

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Steve Van Dusen, one of two coaches for Union Academy of Belleville that led the school’s boys basketball team to a state record 104 straight victories during the late 1960s and early 1970s, has died.

Van Dusen died early Friday morning while a patient at an Ocala, Fla., hospital. Van Dusen, who was 73, also coached at Sackets Harbor and SUNY Canton, and later was an assistant coach at JCC for Bob Williams Jr. during the 1990s. Van Dusen was a winter resident of Summerfield, Fla. He lived in Baldwinsville during the summer.

Van Dusen began coaching in the 1960s and won notice when he took over for Belleville coach Tom Murphy after Murphy left for the coaching job at Hamilton College following the 1969-70 season.

Belleville had won a record 83 straight games under Murphy when Van Dusen left his coaching spot at Sackets Harbor to take over the vaunted program. The Black Knights went on to win 21 more games without a loss before suffering defeat against Owen D. Young in the sectional championship in 1971.

“I had to go with the positive end. The parents were very supportive of what I’d done,” Van Dusen told the Times for a 2006 article.

Van Dusen coached Belleville to a 79-6 record through his first four seasons with the Black Knights and the team won several sectional titles. Belleville Academy later merged with Henderson to become Belleville Henderson.

Van Dusen later went on to coach SUNY Canton and then worked as a volunteer assistant at JCC. When Williams Jr. left JCC to coach Division II Glenville State in West Virginia, Van Dusen was an assistant there, too.

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