2017: San Diego Thinclads Rate in State

With Arcadia behind them, San Diego Section track and field athletes settle into  three more weeks of dual meets, weekend invitationals, and league trials before Section trials May 20 and finals May 27 at Mt. Carmel, and the state meet in Clovis on June 2-3.

Scripps Ranch’s Alex Barr ran :4:14.51 in the 1600 meters last month in the Mt. Carmel Invitational and holds the state lead. Equally impressive was sophomore Karson Lippert of La Costa Canyon.

Lippert’s :47.83 clocking in the 400 at Arcadia ranks No. 17 all-time in San Diego County and is the best ever for his class. Rashid Shaheed of Mt. Carmel was the San Diego Section leader at :48.47 in 2016.

Leading among the girls is the 2:11.24 800 by La Costa Canyon’s Kiley M cCarthy,  fourth in the state.

San Diego performers in the state top 10, followed by the state leader in those events:

GIRLS

100 Fletcher, Scripps Ranch :11.91 (10T) Reed, Gardena Serra :11.58
800 McCarthy, La Costa Canyon 2:11.24 (4) Brewer, San Ramon California 2:07.90
Roberson, La Jolla 2:11.54 (10)
1600 Brown, La Costa Canyon 4:58.77 (9) Herberg, Capistrano Valley 4:52.06
300 Hurdles Scott, Vista :44.26 (10) Anderson, Norco :40.41
High Jump Phillips,  Santa Fe Christian 5-6 ½ (6) Trupe, Santa Ynez 5-10
Hickey,  Coronado 5-6 (7T) Hamm, Bakersfield Stockdale 5-10
BOYS
200 Ellis, Mt. Carmel :21.6w (8T) Hampton Yucaipa, :21.20
400 Lippert, La Costa Canyon :47.83 (2) Bowens L.N. Poly, :47.34
800 Barr, Scripps Ranch 1:53.8 (4) Scales San Jose Bellarmine 1:50.64
1600 Barr 4:14.4 (1)
Shot Put Hardan, San Pasqual 58-1 ¾ (6) Wilson, Clovis Buchanan 66-1
Pole Vault Sheldon, Mission Hills 15-7 (8) Curran, Redondo Beach Redondo 17-1
Long Jump Hull-Littleton, Olympian 23-9 ¾ (4) Enochs,  Yucca Valley 23-11 1/2
Olave, Mission Hills 23-6 (7)

 

Taylor-Stewart, St. Augustine 23-4 ½ (10)
Triple Jump Mitchell, Point Loma 46-5 ¼ (6) Stevenson, Temecula Great Oak 48-6
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1954-55: The Saints Get Some Glory

St. Augustine felt better about itself, assuaging some of the long-standing frustration from thwarted attempts to secure a league affiliation.

The small, independent Catholic entity that opened its doors in 1922 enjoyed an in-your-face season and earned the first playoff berth in school history.

The hard way.

With community honchos in support and shrewd politicking by principal John Aherne, the Saints eventually would gain membership in the City Prep League, but as freelancers they faced more daunting challenges than the snooty public schools that continued to deny them.

Teams in leagues would be eligible for the playoffs as long as they finished first or second in the standings.

The Saints, with no league and little margin for error, were given a finite number by the CIF:  Lose no more than six games and get to play in the extended season.

Coach John Finan’s squad came through with a 17-6 regular-season record, but there were some nervous moments along the way.  A 53-38 loss in January to the San Diego State freshmen could have torpedoed its chances..

Although no official announcement was reported in San Diego newspapers, the CIF apparently didn’t consider the loss to the Frosh an official game, since it was not against a high school team.

Cunningham, guarded by Grossmont’s Lowell Raper, led Saints and area shooters in scoring.

Finan’s freelancers also helped themselves with a 6-1 finish.

John Cunningham, a 6-foot, 4-inch, center who went to play for the University of San Francisco and become baseball coach at the University of San Diego, averaged 19 points a game, led the County with 474 points, and was the main man of the 18-7 season.

CARDINALS FAVORED

St. Augustine was a substantial underdog to Hoover, one of the City League big shots aligned against the Saints, in the opening playoff test, having lost to the Cardinals, 48-34 and 61-43, during the season.

Cunningham and teammates Charlie Smith and Hector Sanchez combined for 42 points and the Saints upset the Cardinals, 46-44, before a standing room crowd of 1,200 at Hoover.

(Perhaps most satisfying was a measure of redemption.  The Saints played Hoover in football amid some fanfare for the first time since 1934 and were destroyed the previous fall, 66-0).

Their breakthrough season ended in the second round on the road, 75-53, to the tall, 22-2 Alhambra Moors, who won the championship with ensuing victories of  55-53 over Baldwin Park, 52-48 over Los Angeles Mt. Carmel, and 46-35 over Burbank Burroughs.

SIZE? NOT TO WORRY

Coronado’s starting lineup averaged 5 feet, 9 inches, with one starter at 6 feet, but coach John Kovac’s speedy Islanders rushed to a 21-4 record and reached the Southern California Southern Group finals for small schools in the lower geographical half of the CIF.

Coronado’s speedy Islanders (from left): Ernie Wright, Jon Crawford, Charlie Love, Roger Nix, coach John Kovac, Robin Dean, Herman Wright.

Coronado, enrollment 384 in four grades, dressed nine players on the first day of practice, according to coach John Kovac.

“When we started winning a few more turned out,” said Kovac.  “Now we have 13 (and the ability to scrimmage and simulate game conditions).”

The Islanders, who had some late-reporting football players after the team got to the Southern Group semifinals before a 23-14 loss to Brawley, raced to an 11-1 Avocado League record, losing only at Escondido, 64-63.

Coronado was beaten by future NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer and Azusa Citrus, 63-58, in the championship game at Point Loma High after knocking out San Jacinto, 43-38, Puente, 53-43, and Grossmont, 59-57.

CAVEMEN SURPRISE

San Diego coach Merrill Douglas wouldn’t have been blamed if he didn’t expect a run from his team, which had lost three December games to Northern squads by an average score of 53-35.

But Douglas also was waiting for football players.

Art Powell ,Willie West, Pete Gumina, Eldridge Cooks, Alden Kimbrough, and Edward Heard were late arriving after going to the playoffs with coach Duane Maley’s gridders.

With a full complement the Cavemen swept the City League with a 12-0 record and were 18-4 when they earned a first-round playoff bye.

San Diego opened with a 49-39 win at Riverside Poly and then faced 31-2 Huntington Beach at Hoover.

Only 400 or so fans showed for the Tuesday night game but were treated to a thriller.  The Cavers topped the favored Oilers, 55-53.

Art Powell, who would earn all-Southern California first team honors, scored 44 points in the two victories.

San Diego moved into the semifinal round three nights later at Long Beach City College against 24-6 Burbank Burroughs.

The Cavers led, 47-46, early in the fourth quarter but a flurry that included seven consecutive free throws helped the Indians ease to a 59-50 win.

The Cavers’ two best players, the 6-foot, 2-inch Powell and the 6-5 Bob Rees fouled out, Rees in the first minute of the fourth quarter and Powell a minute later the next night in

Helix’ Gael Barsotti (center) and Rudy Rudzinski affected novel horizontally striped socks as they pursued Mar Vista’s Dee Pollock.

the third place contest, a 52-48 loss to Mt. Carmel. The Cavers led for most of the game but were swept on the backboards in the final six minutes by the taller Crusaders.

MANY IN PLAYOFFS

A total of seven San Diego-area teams gained the playoffs and occupied four of the 16 berths in the Southern Group competition.

Grossmont advanced to its semifinal test with Coronado by defeating Brawley, 48-44, and Ramona, 46-33.

Ramona faced Grossmont after a 48-32 win over Twentynine Palms.

Escondido, without leading scorer Don Willis, was rocked at Calexico, 70-38.

Mar Vista defeated Coachella, 46-43, and Calexico, 63-38, before being eliminated by Citrus, 66-46.

OVERTIME SOLUTION

When their teams were tied, 45-45, at the end of overtime, coaches Locke Olson of Grossmont and Don Smith of Lincoln agreed to play the second overtime in sudden death.

Grossmont’s Don Cole quickly scored a layup and Grossmont walked off with a 47-45 win.  The clubs were deadlocked, 43-43, at the end of regulation play.

WHERE’S HOME?

The lack of gymnasiums continued to hamstring City League scheduling.

Lincoln and Mission Bay would open their own facilities in 1955-56, but until then there would be odd venue matchups:

Lincoln played San Diego at Hoover.  Hoover played Kearny at Point Loma.  Kearny played Mission Bay at San Diego.

RANDOM

Football star John Adams also was starting forward on 17-7 Hoover basketballers.

–Six Escondido players fouled out and accounted for 30 of the 37 personal fouls assessed the Cougars in a 71-59 loss to Vista, which cashed 41 free throw attempts.

–Hoover, with 6-5 Bill Kupiec and 6-2 John Adams controlling the backboards, was able to survive a putrid field goal percentage,  20 of 75 shots for 26.6%, but led, 26-3, after one quarter and beat Kearny, 54-32.  The Komets were more putrid, 10×52 from the field for 19.2%.

–Chula Vista made 26 of 41 free throws attempts in a 44-30 win over Helix.  The host Highlanders held a 22-18 advantage from the field but were only 8 for 25 from the line.

–Frustration probably was the motivation when Sweetwater’s Allen Redman swapped punches with Grossmont’s Dick Cole.  Grossmont (8-2) sent Sweetwater to its ninth consecutive Metropolitan League loss, 37-28.

–Fallbrook trailed Escondido, 49-14, at the start of the fourth quarter…and went into a stall.  The Warriors did not score in the final eight minutes and lost, 59-14.

–Poor shooting  Point Loma, which finished 3-9 in the City League and 3-16 overall, hit 13 of 17 attempts from the floor for 76% and was 12 for 16 from the free-throw line, including two winning attempts by Frank Rogers, and upset La Jolla, 38-37.

–The score was tied on 8 occasions and the lead was exchanged 25 times as Coronado held on to defeat Grossmont, 59-57, in the semifinals.  On the same night, Mar Vista led Citrus, 25-24, at the half before bowing, 66-46.

JUMP SHOTS

Many  coaches did not like a new rule, which awarded a second free throw if the first was made, saying the legislation put too much emphasis on  the charity toss, according to Jim Trinkle of The San Diego Union…Brown Military’s 46-39 win over Army-Navy  ended the Warriors’ 22-game, Southern Prep League winning streak…Beverly Hills won the Kiwanis Tournament Unlimited Division, 53-33 over defending two-time titlist San Diego…Newhall Hart, behind future NFL quarterback Joe Kapp, won the Limited division, 50-46, over El Centro Central  after opening with a 104-33 win over Oceanside…the Normans got to the Unlimited final with a 39-37 win over Inglewood, which received a last minute technical foul for calling a sixth timeout..the fine led to a pivotal free throw for the winners…Inglewood Morningside’s John Arrillaga scored 39 points in an 82-52 win over Escondido and broke a Kiwanis record set the night before when the Saints’ John Cunningham scored 34 in a 77-64 win over Arrillaga’s Monarchs…Morningside went on to win one of the two Southern Section small schools championship by defeating Beverly Hills, 64-62, in the Northern Group final…Grossmont topped Chula Vista, 53-43, for the consolation championship in the post-Christmas Chino Tournament…Allen Good, former Hoover athlete, became coach at La Jolla after Don Hankins stepped down because of a health issue…five years before his brother attain similar honors at Mission Bay, La Jolla’s 6-1 center Jack Cravens would graduate with 8 varsity letters….

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2016-17: Saints Rise to No. 6 in Final Ratings

Another good season of San Diego Section basketball is in the books.

St. Augustine finished sixth in the final, expanded Cal-Hi Sports listing of the top 40 teams in the state and the Mission Hills girls were seventh in rankings of the top 35.

The Saints (28-5) were a preseason No. 21 in the newsletter’s top 25  but rolled through local games and showed continued improvement.

An example of the Saints’ rise came in the three losses to No. 2 Mater Dei.  Coach Mike Haupt’s team lost by 23, 12, and finally by 6  to the Monarchs in the Southern California semifinals.

Torrey Pines (28-5) rose to 13th after not being in the preseason top 25.  Preseason-ignored Vista (28-5) finished 24th  and Foothills Christian (24-7)  26th after starting No. 16.

Foothills was third in Cal-Hi’s final rankings for the 2015-16 season, with Cathedral 14th, and St. Augustine 23rd.

St. Augustine was 23rd, Torrey Pines 24th, and Foothills Christian 36th in 2013-14.

Helix, the winningest San Diego team this season with a 31-6 record and a state finalist in Division IV, was not in Cal-Hi’s  top 40.

Schedules matter.  The Highlanders annually do not play the level of opponents of the section’s big three.

HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH…

The girls’ team at Mission Hills repeated its third place rating of a year ago.

The Bishop’s (30-4), with state career scoring leader Destiny Littleton,  was 12th.

La Jolla Country (18-12) was ranked 26th, “the best 12-loss team in the state,” according to Cal-Hi Sports, which respects the schedules and teams annually turned out each season by coach Terry Bamford.

TRACK

The spring thinclad season officially commands center stage this week at the Arcadia Invitational, where dozens of San Diego Section runners, throwers, jumpers and vaulters will compete in a variety of classes.

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1953-54: Spartans Footballers Get Basketball Legs

All coach Clarence Burton and the Chula Vista Spartans needed was the rounding into shape of several football players fresh off the CIF Southern Section small schools championship.

The Spartans started slowly in December while Chet DeVore’s gridders were engaged in the postseason, which concluded with a 12-6 win over Brawley.

With Larry Armbrust, Bob Neeley, Dave Erwin, Wally Anderson, Cecil Hall, and others on hand, the South Bay squad caught fire in January, raced to a 12-2 Metropolitan League record, and swept three playoff games to win another CIF title.

Closing at 19-9, the Spartans were 17-3 after a first-round loss in the post-Christmas Chino tournament.

Footballers Wally Anderson (center) and Cecil Hall get back to basics with coach Clarence Burton.

Burton replaced Chet DeVore, who had led the program from its beginning in 1947-48 and who had assumed the additional responsibility of coaching football in 1951.

DeVore probably bought principal Joe Rindone a box of cigars or took his boss to lunch.

Without basketball on his plate, the coach would not have to end one season and plunge into another, as was the situation in 1952, when the playoff-bound Spartans’ football schedule overlapped into the winter sport.

It was not uncommon for the era.  Basketball coaches relied on football players, baseball and track coaches on basketball players.

REMATCH DIFFERENT

After topping Army-Navy, 49-39, in their first playoff, the Spartans advanced to a semifinal contest at Chaffey College in Ontario against Claremont, a 53-48 winner over Burton’s team in the Chino tournament consolation finals.

The game was no classic, with lots of whistles and a high level of anxiety in the fourth quarter, when neither team scored a field goal.

But Chula Vista advanced, 44-41, in a tense battle that saw the game tied 11 times and with 12 lead changes.

The Spartans made 16 of 20 free throw attempts and ex-footballer Cecil Hall, usually unsuccessful at the charity stripe, converted 9, including 5 in a row in the fourth quarter.

“I don’t think Chula Vista is better than us, but we couldn’t match that free-throw magic,” said losing coach Dave Stern.

The Spartans defeated St. Bernardine of San Bernardino, 61-44, for the championship.

CAVERS AIRED OUT

Not particularly well regarded despite its 22-4 record, San Diego was ushered out in the quarterfinals, 56-51, by the favored Fillmore Flashes, who brought a 23-5 record and a portable oxygen tank for use during time outs.

As they had when playing Hoover in 1952, the Flashes shortened the 180-mile trip by busing 38 miles to Burbank and then flying to San Diego, arriving at the Hoover gym an hour before tipoff.

City League champion San Diego High, with coach Merrill Douglas, Larry McDonald, Art Powell, Alfred Hudson, Al West, George Taylor, James Rothwell, and Jerry Davee (from left) made it to playoff quarterfinals round.

The Cavers had surprised the playoff field by defeating favored Alhambra, 68-56, at Whittier with a 40-point explosion in the second half.

Point Loma, the other San Diego playoff qualifier, completed a 18-8 season with a 58-43 loss at Huntington Beach.

LIKES INTERSECTIONALS

“Maybe I’ve got a peculiar idea on this, but I think our boys learn more playing some tough, outside opponent than by scrimmaging a neighbor whose system we already know,” said Kearny coach Ken Dowell.

The Komets made a peculiar road trip.  They traveled to Los Angeles to play the Pepperdine College freshmen.

Kearny coach Ken Dowell is surrounded by Komets Lee Buchanan, Ken Bailey, Gene Shaw, and Gene Chambers (from left).

Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe.   Dowell’s brother, Robert (Duck) Dowell, coached the Waves’ varsity.

The Peps’ freshies won, 48-33, and 69-46.

Kearny also took part in a doubleheader at La Jolla, where the Komets and host Vikings traded opponents, San Bernardino Pacific and Bishop, on successive nights.

La Jolla coach Don Hankins thought the scheduling might have represented a first in San Diego.  Doubleheaders weren’t new but not with two local teams participating on the same court.

The Vikings and Komets each swept the Northern opponents.

BUSY DECEMBER

Hoover and San Diego were not as successful in the North as their City Prep League counterparts.  Long Beach Poly defeated San Diego, 43-40, and Hoover, 69-39.   Jordan beat San Diego, 50-42, but lost to Hoover, 63-58.

Grossmont dropped a pair on the road to Redlands and Claremont.  San Bernardino came South for a single game at Point Loma.  Fallbrook hosted a tournament.  St. Augustine played in the Los Angeles Mt. Carmel tournament.

While Art Powell (left) and Cliff Lindroth of San Diego battle for rebound, Oceanside’s Dan Holmgren (16) appears mesmerized. Cavers won Kiwanis opener, 59-31.

All action was a prelude to the seventh annual San Diego Kiwanis Tournament, which attracted 24 teams, including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Inglewood, and Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.

San Diego topped Hoover, 54-44, for the Unlimited Division championship.  Coronado defeated Mar Vista, 48-33, for the Limited title.

Play began on Thursday afternoon and led to some unintended consequences.

The event was scheduled to end on Monday, but that meant that Beverly Hills would have had to spend four consecutive nights on the road.

Beverly coach Steve Miletich received the Kiwanis bosses’ permission to cancel the Normans’ game for fifth place against Point Loma.

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS

Tournament personnel had to adjust when a power outage darkened much of the Point Loma peninsula at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, delaying two games scheduled for the Point Loma High gym.

Officials scrambled, moving the Grossmont-St. Augustine game to the Saints’ gym. The Kearny-Helix game became the fourth on the day’s card at San Diego High.

Future Evening Tribune sports writer Roger Conlee remembered years later:  “I was in the Point Loma gym that night.  Man, it was eerie, black as a cave.  A few people lit matches. Some Point Loma High person, probably a custodian,  eventually showed up with a flashlight.”

As Conlee recalled, about 20 minutes later the announcement of the venue shifts was made.

Helix and Kearny tipped at 10:30 p.m.  Until we hear otherwise we’ll call that the latest start ever for a couple local teams.

SCORERS

Coronado’s Tom Noonan was the County leader with a 19.4 average and 448 points in 23 games.

Leading scorer Tom Noonan (right) and Coronado’s Bob McInerney squeeze Chula Vista’s Cecil Hall, but Spartans defeated Islanders, 47-42, in Metropolitan League game.

Point Loma’s Homer Krantz was the City League leader with 339 in 26 games (13.0).St. Augustine’s 6-foot, 5-inch,  junior center John Cunningham scored  43 points in an 86-33 win over Brown Military.

Cunningham bettered the school record of 36, set by Hank Zumstein in 1953.

The Saints, struggling to book a full schedule of games as an independent, won 10 of 18, with Cunningham scoring 330 points, for a 18.3-point average.

IN REVERSE

San Dieguito center Vincent Vint tapped in a Mar Vista shot for two points.

Let’s try that again.

San Dieguito center Vincent Vint tapped in a Mar Vista shot for two points.

We were correct the first time.

Vint’s wrong-way hoop proved the difference in the Metro League contest.

The Mustangs and Mariners tied at 53 in regulation play and Mar Vista won in overtime, 55-53.

TROUBLE WITHOUT HARRY

Hoover was 5-5 in its last 10 games and out of the playoffs after starting 12-2.  The Cardinals could not overcome the loss of forward Harry Wilson, who sustained a broken ankle.

Wilson was leading City scorers with 188 points and 13.4 average in 14 games.

LOOPS TO GET BREAKS 

The 14-game City League round robin was the longest for any team in local history but the massive restructuring that took place at the CIF Southern Section executive committee meeting in Los Angeles in December promised to loosen schedules.

Army-Navy coach Richard Gronquist huddled with Sam Wood, Arnold Bennett, Nyal Stamolis, Ed Peterson, and Ted Wieseman en route to 20 straight Southern League victories.

The formation of the Avocado League would take North County schools and Coronado out of the Metropolitan League beginning in September, 1954, and the Metro would welcome Helix and Grossmont from the City.

Changes were necessary because the City added Lincoln to the lineup this season and Mission Bay would join next school year.

BOSSES TO SAINTS:  DROP DEAD!

Although shut out at the December CIF re-leaguing meeting (see “1953: Welcome Avocado League”), St. Augustine tried again, but the Saints were rebuffed by the City and Metro leagues.

The City rejected a Saints application on grounds that the “new loop was set up to include schools under the supervision of the San Diego school superintendent,” wrote St. Augustine alumnus Harry Monahan and prep chronicler for The San Diego Union.

“A few days later the revised Metro League had advised St. Augustine that its request to join that loop had been disapproved because the applicant was a private school,” said Monahan.

HORNETS?

They originally were called the “Pennies” or “Presidents” but Lincoln, without a senior class until next year, was destined to become known as the Hornets.

Leonard Arevalo was a starting forward on the all-underclass, first-year Lincoln squad.

Coach Don Smith’s team practiced at Municipal Gym in Balboa Park and played “home” games at San Diego and Hoover.

“We’re not thinking about any league championships, but we’ll be out to win and learn as much as we can…” said Smith, who played at Hoover and San Diego State before launching his coaching career at Mar Vista.

The Hornets staggered to a 2-18 record.  Their first game was a 49-30 loss to Chula Vista at Municipal gym and they opened City League play with a 50-26 loss to Helix.

JUMP SHOTS

Coach Richard Gronquist’s Army-Navy Warriors were 15-6 overall, wrapped up a second consecutive Southern Prep League title, and extended a streak of 20 consecutive league victories…Helix, 7-14 overall and 5-9 in the City League, upset Hoover, 43-41, and stunned San Diego, 52-40…Hoover coach Charlie Hampton, looking for the right combination  or giving everyone a chance, or both, had used 16 players who scored at least one point through December…St. Augustine’s B team finished with a 19-1 record…Chula Vista B’s defeated Escondido, 34-32, to wrap a 14-0 Metropolitan League campaign…Hoover’s B’s played in the postseason Santa Monica B tournament, defeating Torrance, 36-31, and bowing to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, 42-20…with as many as 10 expected players still involved with the  football team, Chula Vista was no match for San Diego in the opening game, losing, 58-31 after trailing, 38-14, at halftime…Hoover was outscored, 26-18, from the field but made 16 free throws to defeat San Diego, 34-29…Alhambra coach Claude Miller revealed that he was a “shirt-tail relative” of San Diego coach Merrill Douglas’…the mentors apparently were distantly connected by marriage…Chula Vista’s Blake Neal led all scorers with 85 points in 4 Chino Tournament games…”It’s good we have so many boys named David (including starters Jarvis and Inman) on the club…they’re going to have to be giant killers (for us) to get anywhere in the City Prep League…the Vikings were third with a 9-5 record and 17-8 overall…the Christmas pageant at Grossmont ousted the Grossmont and Helix teams…the squads had to move outside and practice on the Foothillers’ macadam courts…Municipal Gym also was the practice site for Kearny, which played home games at La Jolla, and Chula Vista, a tenant at Sweetwater…San Diego played on a partially warped home floor after water leaked onto the surface and remained for several days during the Christmas vacation…the Cavers’ playoff against Fillmore was at Hoover for that reason….

La Jolla was 17-8 under coach Don Hankins, who rolled with Spike Harvey, Jack Cravens, Joe Barrington, and John Hinds (from left).

The 18-8 Point Loma Pointers were all in with coach Paul Rundell and led by City scoring leader Homer Krantz (second from left). Bill Harvey, Norman Alexander, Frank Rogers, and Chuck Boyce (from left) also contributed.

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2017: Charles Sanford, Anchor of Cavers’ Great Relay Squad

Charles Sanford finished the perfect race.

Etched in my memory: Edwards Stadium, Berkeley, 1963 state track meet, final event, 880-yard relay. San Diego High against the field at the end of the two-day program.

Sanford and teammates Walter (Buddah) Blackledge, Gordon Baker, and Raymond Dixon, were considered one of the better entries coming into the meet with a best time of 1:27.2, but there were other, more favored teams  from the Los Angeles City and Southern sections.

Sanford, who passed away at age 72 recently, was an attacking sprinter, grinding out his races with each stride, and the best at San Diego High since the days of Roscoe Cook and Bobby Staten a decade before.

Sanford had set a San Diego Section record of :09.6 in the 100-yard dash the week before and had a best of :19.2 in the 180-yard low hurdles.

He qualified in neither event in the Friday trials  but was fresh and ready for the baton chase the next day.

The Cavers got off to a good start when Blackledge came out of the blocks with a :22-flat first 220, handing off to Gordon Baker, who put some distance between himself and the pack with a :21.3 second leg.

Gordon Baker, Charles Sanford, Walter (Buddah) Blackledge, and Raymond Dixon (from left) reached perfection in 1963.

Baker a sometimes erratic sprinter-quartermiler, ran  the most important leg, because he was able to make the second pass from the pole position to Dixon.

With the posse in hot pursuit, Dixon held the inside lane, running his furlong in :21.7, and maintaining  Baker’s lead as Dixon passed to  Sanford.

Anchor man Sanford closed with a :21.3 leg, increasing San Diego’s winning advantage  to about five yards.

The Cavers had covered the distance in 1:26.3, second fastest in the country that year; almost one second faster than they had run the week before,  and bettered the record they had shared with the 1957 Cook-Staten-Charles Davis-Willie Jordan team.

Los Angeles Manual Arts was second in 1:26.8.

What I remember most were the flawless handoffs as the Cavers protected the baton amid the pressure of  flying spikes, and streaking bodies in a high-powered race.

Sanford, who also was a football standout at San Diego, will be honored in a funeral service Monday, April 3, at 11 a.m. at Missionary Baptist Church in Logan Heights.

 

 

 

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1943-44: Ivan the Terrible, Not

An otherwise quiet, ho-hum campaign shortened by war was energized in the season’s last game.

Ivan Robinson, the younger brother of 1941-42 San Diego star Ermer Robinson, scored 38 points, including 25 in the second half of a 70-23, season-ending victory over Kearny.

News accounts reported that no prep in the area had ever rung up that many in one game.

Headline writers wiped figurative eggs off their ink-stained faces.

Robinson’s scoring outburst and closing rush also snatched the scoring title from La Jolla’s Bill Pince, and belied bold exclamations just days before.

Pince, who had games of 28 and 24 points and averaged 19 a game in his last three, was declared the winner, although all points were yet to be scored.  The Vikings’ standout appeared to have a lock, with 102 points in eight games to teammate Frank Fleming’s 74, Robinson’s 68, and the 67 of San Diego’s Sal Gumina.

Tribune-Sun was certain of Pince’s victory.

Pince’s season was complete as San Diego and Hoover prepared for a late-season nonleague encounter.  Pince was scheduled to compete against a representative from every Victory League team in a free-throw contest at halftime of the Cardinals-Cavers contest.

The San Diego Union also annointed Pince.

Robinson’s 7 points and Gumina’s 8 against Hoover did not count in the league scoring race, so there was little drama expected four days later when the Cavers took on Kearny in the Hilltop gym on the final Tuesday night.

Robinson divided his 38 points between 17 baskets and 4 free throws to finish the league season with 106 points and a 13.3 average to Pince’s 12.8.

DOUBTFUL LEGACY

The 6-foot, 2 inch Robinson and Gumina were part of a historically outstanding  team but one that became little more than a blip in the school’s athletic history.

The Cavers were the marquee squad on  a basketball map that spanned  Varsity (Class A) to B, C, and D classifications, with probably more than a hundred organized, high school, college, and defense industry teams commanding area indoor or outdoor courts.

But as the war continued to rage in the South Pacific and Europe, newspaper coverage of the preps was thin, sports departments limited by a lack of personnel and space.

Editors relied on wire service reports.  There were few local bylines in The San Diego Union and The Tribune-Sun, the city’s two dailies.

Stories were short, game action photos rare, and feature articles rarer.

Players continued to leave school for the military or for midterm graduation.

San Diego coach Merrill Douglas was gone until after the war.

JOHNNY ON SPOT

Douglas’ replacement was John Brose, who moved to the gymnasium from the practice field after assisting Bill Bailey’s varsity football team.

Brose inherited four lettermen, led by Robinson and Sal Gumina, who would earn an all-Southern California second team selection.

The Cavers fashioned a 13-1 record under Brose and raced through the Victory League with an 8-0 record, lording it over  their opponents by an average score of 49-17.

The schedule included four games with crosstown rival Hoover.

In the only league game between the teams, Sal Gumina’s overtime basket gave the Hilltoppers a 24-22 victory.

San Diego won two other clashes with the Cardinals before dropping a 40-38 decision late in the season, when Hoover’s Bobby Greenman sank a 35-foot shot with 10 seconds remaining.

MORE HOOPS

There was no postseason, so most members from Brose’s squad hooked on with the San Diego YMCA team and won the Southern California Y championship.

It was at the Y event that several Los Angeles-area coaches voiced the opinion that Brose’s team would have been a strong contender for a CIF Southern Section title, according to Don King in Caver Conquest.

The CIF suspended playoffs after the 1943-44 and 1944-45 seasons.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Officer Walter Hunting takes part in speed photo op.

San Diego drivers were warned.

Twenty-two signs signaling a speed limit of 35 were erected on San Diego thoroughfares, with 24 more ordered.

The speed laws were in effect for El Cajon Boulevard to La Mesa; El Cajon Blvd., to Russ Blvd.; Pacific Highway from the North end of the San Diego River Bridge to Harbor Drive, and from Pacific Highway to Eighth Street and Roosevelt Avenue in National City.

SET SHOTS

“I think we’d finish first or second with an indoor gym,” said La Jolla coach Larry Hansen, whose team was 5-3 and shared Victory League “minor division” honors with Coronado…Hoover seemed to have the officials on its  side but missed 16 free throws in a 32-30 loss to the Alumni…the gulf between the good and the bad was vast…after a 46-26 loss to San Diego, Hoover turned around and defeated Vocational, 61-31…San Diego defeated Vocational, 61-17…Hoover’s late-season win over San Diego was accomplished despite the mid-term graduation loss of Don Nuttall, who had 20 points in his final game, a 32-30 win over Point Loma, which was losing Billy Kettenberg and his 11.3 average to graduation…Bobbie Phelps (15) and Eddie Crain (13) picked up for Nuttall against San Diego…San Diego (8-0)) was followed by Grossmont (7-1) and Hoover (6-2) in Class B standings….Hoover won in Class C and Kearny in Class D in the eight-team Coronado Invitational…Coronado scheduled neighboring wartime teams…the Islanders topped the Naval Air Station, 37-36, while the trans-bay team’s Bees dropped a 45-20 decision to Naval Air Ninth Division….

 

 

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2016-17 State Championship: Singer has seen all of Helix’ Best

John Singer has seen the greatest Helix teams from the bench.

He was an underclassman reserve on the 1969-70 squad led by Bill Walton that posted a 33-0 record and is regarded  as not only the best team to come out of the La Mesa foothills but the all-time No. 1 in San Diego County.

Singer’s also the coach, and the winner of 679 games in 36 seasons at Helix, of this season’s team, which will play Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent Saturday at 1 p.m. in the CIF state Division IV championship game at Sacramento’s Golden Center.

The Highlanders’ Scotty.

Helix is 31-5, and winner of 22 in a row.  It got to this point by prevailing in four successive games at home during the Southern California regional after earning a No. 2 seed following a championship run through the San Diego Section playoffs.

Walton competed  before San Diego Section teams were part of Southern California regional or state playoffs.

But that Helix team averaged 88 points a game, exceeded 100 points six times, and scored a 71-49 victory over Long Beach Millikan, the 1969-70 Southern Section champion, in  a December tournament in Covina.

Singer’s club outscored opponents by an average of 60-55 in a 9-5 December, but has not lost since Dec. 30 and are winning by an average score of 71-53 during that time.

The Scots were almost as effective against competition from outside San Diego, building an average advantage of 70-57 in the four regional games.

Vallejo St. Francis-St. Patrick of the North Coast Section is 27-7, won the Northern California regional, and outscored 4 opponents by an average of 82-43.

Helix and St. Patrick each is a bubble team in Cal-Hi Sports’ latest top state top 20, but the Bruins are ranked 37th in California by Max Preps and Helix is 69th.

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1942-43: It’s All About Victory

Galvanized Americans had Victory on their minds as the war moved into its second year.

San Diego school officials, living in the hub of the defense industry, pitched in.  They created the Victory League and put the Metropolitan League in a basketball drydock.

Call theirs a New Year’s Resolution.

Coronado coach Hal Niedermeyer had announced a Metro schedule of one round of nine games on December 10.

But on Jan. 12, when play got under way, the circuit had a new name, a positive acknowledgement of Uncle Sam’s rallying cry for Victory in Europe and Japan.

The Metro, born in 1933 and inclusive of the city’s and suburbs’ smaller schools, would not return until after the 1945-46 academic year.

OFF ROAD?

Low fuel tanks and balding tires were by-products of the need for precious wartime materials.

Jim Glasson was one of key players for San Diego coach Merrill Douglas’ squad.

Necessary gas rationing and travel restrictions were such that the league did not include all members who competed in the similar Metropolitan loop during football season.

Victory travel would be by streetcar or bus.

Suburban Sweetwater and rural Escondido and Oceanside were forced to bail.

Night games were at the option of host schools.

As they did in football for the 1942 season, local titans San Diego High and Hoover split their squads.  Four teams included the San Diego Blues and Whites and the Hoover Reds and Whites.

WE GOT GAME

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2016-17 Regionals:  Helix and Serra Reach Finals

The Helix boys and Serra girls are still in the hunt.

Both teams have reached the finals of the Southern California Regional playoffs, last step before the state championships March 24-25 at the Golden Center in Sacramento.

Helix (30-5), the No. 2 seed in Division IV, defeated Carson of the L.A. City Section, 56-53, for its 21st consecutive victory, 15th in a row at home, and now will play its fourth straight game as host, Saturday night at 6.

The Highlanders will take on Reedley Immanuel (23-8), with the winner meeting the Northern California champion, either Salinas Palma or Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent, which also play Saturday evening.

D-III six seed Serra (23-10) qualified to meet 1 seed Anaheim Rosary (28-5) after a 57-51 win over No. 2 Camarillo.

SIX ELIMINATED

St. Augustine strived mightily against the taller and favored hosts from Santa Ana Mater Dei, but the Saints were only 6 for 22 in three-point attempts and committed 22 turnovers in a 63-57 loss.

Taeshon Cherry scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds for the San Diego club and was the best player on the floor.

The Saints should be back knocking on the door again in 2017-18.

Fourteen D-III seed Orange Glen’s unexpected ride came to an end when the Patriots were outscored, 17-7, in overtime and dropped a 72-62 decision at No. 2-ranked Villa Park.

Mission Hills was a 66-57 loser at Long Beach Poly and The Bishop’s, after a 315-mile ride, over the Grapevine and up Highway 99, were run off the floor by Clovis West, 73-31, in Girls’ Open Division contests.

Rancho Bernardo was a 57-49 loser to Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos in D-IV, and Olympian was ousted, 70-53, by Riverside Notre Dame in D-V.

FINAL STATE SELECTIONS

With Cal-Hi Sports’ last rankings to be made after the state finals. San Diego’s representation could change.

St. Augustine had moved from seventh to fourth before the Mater Dei game and Torrey Pines was 15th in boys’ play.

Mission Hills was fourth in the girls’ rankings and The Bishop’s had jumped from unranked to 12th after upsetting Studio City Harvard-Westlake, 63-60, in the quarterfinals.

 

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2016-17: And Then There Were 8

The  Southern California regional of the state playoffs reached the semifinal round after San Diego Section teams qualified eight of the 17 teams it sent to the weekend quarterfinals.

All local boys and girls teams except Helix will be on the road Tuesday night.  The Highlanders (29-5), seeded No. 2 in Boys’ Division IV, play host to 3 seed Carson (23-6)  of the Los Angeles City Section.

Beginning with Open Division  6 seed St. Augustine (28-4), a scrappy, 88-81 winner over nationally regarded and Southern California third-ranked Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, all section teams except Helix will be in against favored clubs.

The Saints will try for the third time at No. 2 Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-2), having lost to the Monarchs, 86-62, in the Diablo Inferno at Mission Viejo on Dec. 3 and 74-62 at the Nike Extravaganza Feb. 4 at Mater Dei.

If there is a potential Cinderella, the D-IV Orange Glen Patriots are the top candidate at this juncture.

The 14 seed from east Escondido visits No. 2 Villa Park.  The Patriots are the South’s ranked squad still alive in  boys or girls.

The lowest overall  seed in the state still playing is Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman, a No. 15 in the Northern California D-II regional.  Eastlake, a 12 seed in D-V, visits No. 1 Riverside Notre Dame.

Helix, should it defeat Carson, would take on the winner of No. 1 Burbank (25-9)  and No. 5 Reedley Immanuel (22-8) on Saturday, March 18, at 6 p.m. If Burbank wins, the Bulldogs would host.  If Immanuel wins, Helix would host.

GIRLS SEMIFINALS LOADED

The Bishop’s (30-3), seeded fifth in the Open, will make the South regional’s longest trip, 368 miles, to face No. 1-ranked Clovis East (31-2).

Mission Hills (31-2), seeded  third in the Open, revisits 2 seed Long Beach Poly, which sent the Grizzlies home with a 58-41 loss in the first round of the 2015 regional.

The four Girls’ opponents are ranked 2, 1, 2, and 1.  One of those top-ranked squads is Camarillo, which represents a 175-mile trip for No. 6 Serra.

BOYS

Division Team Opponent
Open 6 St. Augustine (28-4) @2 Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-2)
III 14 Orange Glen (23-9) @2 Villa Park, 25-6
IV 2 Helix (29-5) 3 Carson (23-6)

GIRLS

Division Team Opponent
Open 3 Mission Hills (30-2) @ 2 Long Beach Poly (25-3)
5 The Bishop’s (30-3) @1 Clovis West (31-2)
III 6 Serra (22-10) @2 Camarillo (30-3)
IV 4 Rancho Bernardo (23-6) @1 Rancho  Cucamonga Los Osos (25-3)

 

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