1948-49: “Little Guys” Hold Sway

City schools Hoover and San Diego usually wielded the sharp end of the stick, but smaller schools, for the second year in as row, stepped up.  Coronado, from the mostly suburban Metropolitan League, and Vista from the rural Southern Prep represented the area in Southern California playoffs.

There was no minor division or small school postseason alignment, in which the Islanders and Panthers, with relatively paltry enrollment numbers, probably would have been included.

You make the postseason, be prepared to play anyone, size of school no matter. One bracket of 16 teams met on successive weeks, two days each, almost all games at Redondo Beach Redondo.

A Small Schools division for the postseason would not be in place until the 1949-50 season, according to CIF historian John Dahlem.

Coronado likely would have enjoyed similar success in a group with more even student body numbers, as did the mid-1950s Islanders, who advanced to the finals two years in a row.

Coronado coach Keith Broaders is surrounded by his starting five of Dick Tulley, Don Davis, Tom Brown, John Kurtz, and Mark Davis (from left).

Thus, when Coronado thumped Inglewood, 46-28, in the first round, John De La Vega’s account for the Los Angeles Times began: “Little Coronado high school, unbeaten champions of the Metropolitan league in San Diego county, furnished the big surprise yesterday….”

The Islanders, coached by Keith Broaders, hammered the Bay League champions but were beaten, 39-29, by Ventura in the second round, closing out a 21-2 season.  Loyola earlier eliminated Vista (14-8), 48-24.

The exiting teams had faced the Southern Section’s premiere squads.

Loyola reached the round of 4 and defeated Coast League champion Compton, 34-33, and Ventura handled Alhambra, 58-41, for the championship.


Coronado’s record was listed as 21-1 in Bill Finley’s Evening Tribune High School Record Book 1945-69.

The obvious loss was to Ventura, but research showed that Broaders also scheduled a game in which he reportedly utilized only substitutes and the Islanders were upset by Brown Military, 29-27, in overtime.

Finley’s excellent publication reflected the difficulty finding complete, individual scoring statistics or total won-loss records from newspapers’ coverage in the early years until well into the late 1950s.


The three local teams, Grossmont, San Diego, and Hoover, won six of seven games at home on the opening weekend of Coast League play. The only setback was Grossmont’s 36-35 loss in overtime to Compton.

Three days later Grossmont beat San Diego, 41-40, on Herbie Fennel’s free throw with three seconds remaining before a full house at Grossmont.

The Cardinals and Foothillers soon dropped off the pace, however, and San Diego assumed the lead, taking an 8-1 record into its final game against 6-2 Compton.

The Hilltoppers had edged the Tarbabes, 34-27, early in league play but Compton prevailed in the rematch, 31-29 and then defeated Muir, 50-48, to forge a tie for the title.


One San Diego report declared that Compton and San Diego would flip a coin to determine the champion, but another said the winner of the teams’ first-round meeting in the Beverly Hills Tournament would determine the league’s sole playoff representative.

The Hillers came up flat, losing, 55-33, and closed out a 15-7 season.  Grossmont signed off at 10-8, Hoover at 9-11, and St. Augustine at 11-6.

John Davidson, curator of Junipero Museum in Presidio Park, has bird’s eye view of unusual sight, water in the San Diego River near channel leading to sea.


The dateline said San Diego, not somewhere in northern Minnesota, or numerous other wintry outposts.

Snow had forced postponement of two games.

That is not a misprint.

In the dead of winter a couple high school basketball contests in San Diego County were called off because of the flaky white stuff.

Southern Prep League games sending Brown Military to Mountain Empire in Campo and Vista to Julian could not be played “because of bad traveling conditions,” according to The San Diego Union on Jan. 14, 1949.

Five feet of snow in the higher elevations, the newspaper reported, “silenced rural telephone circuits so completely that the Police Department rushed a mobile radio transmitter to Julian to establish an emergency communications center.”

Down below the 4,000-foot elevation the coastline was hit with storm waves that caused damage to small craft and wreaked havoc on the beaches along U.S. 101.

San Diego rainfall totals were almost two inches above normal.

A view of the San Diego River from the Junipero Serra museum in Presidio Park showed water runoff to the ocean for the first time in three years.


Eight of the 11 San Diego-area teams in the 23-team, two-division, second annual Kiwanis Tournament were defeated in the first round of the three-day event at San Diego, Hoover, and San Diego State.

Hoover played twice on the first day, defeating Long Beach Poly, 34-31, and then lost to Beverly Hills, 22-18.

San Diego, outed by Long Beach Wilson, 36-33, came back to win the Unlimited Division consolation title, 43-27 over La Jolla.  Chula Vista defeated Oceanside, 23-20, for the Limited Division conso’ crown.

Sweetwater won the Limited Division championship, 40-24, over Brawley.  El Monte trimmed Beverly Hills, 60-40, for the Unlimited title.

San Diego’s Bob McClurg and Eddie Simpson made the all-tournament team.  Simpson scored 42 points in the 4 games.  Jim Loews of El Monte was leading scorer with 56.


While the Metropolitan and Southern Prep leagues got ready for league openers, the three Coast League locals went north to Compton College for the annual Western States Tournament.

San Diego topped Alhambra Mark Keppel, 45-37, and then went into the consolation bracket after a 43-37 loss to Los Angeles Mt. Carmel.  Hoover topped Long Beach Poly, 43-41, but lost to Compton, 48-36.

Grossmont fell to Mt. Carmel, 47-37, in the opening round.

The threesome were quickly sent back home from the losers’ bracket.  Long Beach St. Anthony nudged San Diego, 39-38, Long Beach Wilson nipped Hoover, 56-55, and Santa Barbara beat Grossmont, 50-44.


Alan Logan of Ramona had the highest reported individual scoring total with 30 points in a 40-25 win over Brown Military.  Bob (Bama) Shell scored 28 in St. Augustine’s 47-39 victory over Chula Vista.

Shell scored 23 points and Lou Kuslo 17 as the Saints defeated Los Angeles Cathedral in the Southland Catholic League event.

Shell was denied an opportunity to score more when Long Beach St. Anthony backed out of its own hoop carnival so team members and students could trek to the Los Angeles Coliseum to watch their football team play Santa Barbara for the Southern Section title.

Bob (Bama) Shell and Lou Kuslo (from left) pushed the ball for St. Augustine.


The timeworn maxim that “they couldn’t hit a bull in the — with a barn door” resonated with those watching a Grossmont junior high tournament middleweight division game.

Coronado shut out Ramona’s Mt. Woodson Mountain Lions, 37-0.


Sixteen-year-old Casey Moffet of Shelby, N.C., drove to the basket, missed a layup, and crashed through a wooden wall in a game against Waco, N.C.

Moffet penetrated the ½-inch plywood (?) barrier and fell 10 feet to the frozen clay surface outside the gym.  He sustained, head, shoulder, and arm injuries.


Ivan Robinson scored the winning basket for the San Diego High alumni against the Hilltoppers’ varsity and played the next night for the Alumni against the San Diego Junior College Knights…Vista defeated San Dieguito, 40-30, to gain a tie for the SPL title and then won a playoff, 34-31 over San Dieguito to earn the league’s playoff berth…future Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian was a starting guard for the Pasadena Bullpups…after opening with a victorious Coast League weekend, San Diego stumbled against Point Loma, 30-14, and St. Augustine, 42-33…the Saints won the sixth annual Coronado C  & D tournament, 21-9 over Hoover in the Cees and 18-17 over Coronado in the Dees…


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