A palpable buzz was heard throughout San Diego gymnasiums this season, hummed to a pitch by a 5-foot, 8-inch sharpshooter with an unorthodox jump shot.
St. Augustine’s Tom Shaules set scoring records and drew huge crowds, but Shaules and his husky teammate, Sammy Owens, were a virtual two-man team and the Saints, while making the scoreboard blink, did not make the playoffs despite a 20-6 record and 11-5 City Prep League standing.
San Diego, Mission Bay, Hoover, and eventually Lincoln, were able to stop the Saints in the fratricidal circuit that embraced nine teams and 16 games. The league season began before the annual, pre-Christmas Kiwanis Tournament and produced Tuesday afternoon and Friday night dramas seemingly every week in January and February.
Meanwhile, Chula Vista and Sweetwater, blood rivals only four miles apart, separated themselves in the Metropolitan League. Escondido had to win a playoff with Oceanside to earn the Avocado League’s postseason bid, and Ramona went on a winning streak in the Southern Prep.
Artist Gilbert and Edward Lee Johnson, the team’s leading scorers the year before, and Barry Landon and Eugene Sheridan formed a solid nucleus of veterans. Football players Ezell Singleton and Bobby Anderson joined after the Southern California finals loss to Downey, and a spindly junior, Arthur (Hambone) Williams, who did not play basketball as a sophomore, became the team’s playmaker and would forge a legendary career that took Williams all the way to the Boston Celtics and an NBA championship.
The Cavers lost a fourth-quarter lead of 56-48 in the league opener at St. Augustine as Shaules scored 14 of his team’s final 18 and 35 overall in a 62-56 victory. Johnson fouled out with 3:05 left in the third quarter and Gilbert with 30 seconds remaining in the third. San Diego also was upset, 55-53, by Beverly Hills in the Kiwanis Tournament.
The Kiwanis loss was San Diego’s last in a 23-2 regular season that culminated with a 15-1 run through the City Prep League. The Hillers won the return match with the Saints, 65-57, swept Mission Bay, 47-45, in overtime and 62-50, routed Hoover, 68-42, and 54-46, and stopped Lincoln, 63-45, and 68-52.
(Shaules scored 27 in the second game against San Diego but 14 of those points came in the fourth quarter after the Cavers had taken a 50-38 lead.
(Allan Zukor, a two-year Cavers letterman in ’57-58 and ’58-59, remembered. Coach Dick Otterstad’s employed Zukor as “Shaules” in practice. “It was so much fun, launching it from everywhere with that side step that Tom perfected,” said Zukor).
Dick Otterstad, a portly, foot-stomping coach, looked on in disbelief with others in a crowded San Diego gym as the Cavers stumbled in their first-round playoff against a Chula Vista squad they had beaten, 50-34, in December. San Diego trailed, 48-47, and had a chance to win when Ezell Singleton was fouled as time ran out. Singleton missed two free throws and one of the best teams in school history suddenly was out of business.
Gilbert was CPL player of the year with a high of 35 points and 24 rebounds in a 61-38, Kiwanis Tournament win over Sweetwater. Johnson’s 37 points in an 85-38 romp against La Jolla came within one point of Ivan Robinson’s school record, set in 1944. Gilbert and Shaules each scored 98 points in the Kiwanis, one less than the 99 by Inglewood Morningside’s John Arrillaga in 1954.
Kenny Hale, a member of San Diego State’s 1940-41 small-college championship team, was coming to the end of a distinguished coaching career. Hale was 76-45 from 1947-52 at Hoover and had nurtured the Buccaneers’ program from its beginning in 1954-55. They were 8-16 their first season and 10-15 the next but advanced to 17-7 in ’55-’56 and 18-7 this season.
As in other sports and other years, Mission Bay’s emergence robbed La Jolla of its favorite area of athletes, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. These Bucs were mostly home grown with Frank Schiefer, Jerry Dinsmore, Andy Saraspe, and Tom Tenney, but forward Doug Crockett, their leading scorer, had played his sophomore season at La Jolla, where Crockett’s older brother, Clyde, was the league scoring leader.
The Bucs dropped their first meeting with St. Augustine, 49-42, but stunned the Saints, 74-44, in the Kiwanis Tournament, exposing the first chink in the armor of the high scoring North Park team. Mission Bay defeated Beverly Hills for its second straight Kiwanis championship, 43-33, and was 6-0 in the league when it went to San Diego in mid-January.
Hale’s club at one point trailed San Diego by 11, fought its way back to take a 39-38 lead but was forced into overtime and lost, 47-45.
The Bucs were 5-6 overall the rest of the way and they finished 11-5 in the league, same as St. Augustine and Hoover, but their 4-0 record against the Saints and Cardinals earned the Pacific Beach team the CPL’s second playoff berth, and it exited early, losing to Los Angeles Mt. Carmel, 68-45, at Loyola University.
Shaules set County records with 60 points in one game and 736 for the season and Owens added 422. Together Shaules and the 6-foot, 185-pound Owens accounted for 69.5 per cent of their team’s 1,665 points. The Saints were 16-1 at one point but their rivals, with second opportunities to execute more effective zone defenses and double teams, took advantage.
Mission Bay repeated its Kiwanis triumph with a 61-42 victory in Round 2 of the CPL. Hoover swept the Saints, 55-48, and 71-57, and Lincoln, beaten, 74-50, in Round 1, stifled Shaules, holding him to a season-low 12 points with a “box and one” zone, the “one” being guard Pete Colonelli, won the rematch, 55-38. Shaules fouled out with 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
A 102-38 win over first-year Crawford (search also ”1957-58 Shaules and Saints…”), in which Shaules set a record with 60 points, did not break the County standard, or even the school record. The 1951-52 team topped San Diego Vocational, 104-19. Coronado also was reported to have beaten Rancho del Campo, 103-31, in 1953-54.
The Saints cleared up the little matter about the single-game team scoring record with a 105-34 win over La Jolla a few days later. Shaules scored 37 points and Owens 30. Coach Jerry Moriarty’s team averaged 88 points in the last four games of the first round. Shaules averaged 42 in that stretch and had a 30.7 average after his first 16 games.
Saints students and followers were so vocally abusive and disruptive in a 61-42 loss to Mission Bay that school principal John Aherne twice walked onto the basketball court and admonished the team’s followers.
Shaules scored 53, second highest total in County history, as the Saints went past 100 for the third time in a 104-43 repeat romp over La Jolla. Tied with Mission Bay going into the final week, each with an 11-3 record, the Saints lost their last two, at Lincoln and at home versus Hoover. Mission Bay also dropped a pair but advanced.
Forward Norris Greenwood, who would set a school record with 446 points and become the first African-American Senior Class president at the school, was coach Charlie Hampton’s only returning starter in what essentially was a rebuilding year after two straight league championships and deep runs in the Southern California playoffs.
The Cardinals managed to earn a three-way tie for second with Mission Bay and St. Augustine and they upset the Saints and dealt them their first CPL loss, 55-48. Hoover swept St. Augustine but lost a pair to Mission Bay, allowing the Bucs to win the league vote for the second playoff bid.
Hoover’s downfall in the 17-8 season was a 69-52 upset loss to Lincoln in Round 2. The Cardinals had beaten the Hornets in overtime in the first round.
The Hornets were 6-1 down the stretch after a 5-8 start and they overcame Hoover and Mission Bay, teams that had meted out misery to the Hornets the last two seasons. A 50-47 loss in 1956-57 was virtually repeated when Lincoln visited Hoover in the first round and led, 42-40. “We finally beat Hoover!” shouted vice principal George Parry, as the game apparently ended.
Parry groaned, however, as a foul had been called on Hornets center Juarez Meals, who committed an offensive violation going to the basket as time ran out instead of passing the ball or doing nothing. Hoover’s Wayne Britt drained two free throws with no time on the clock and the Cardinals went on to win in overtime, 48-47.
Lincoln dominated the Cardinals in the rematch and then got even with Mission Bay, which had punished Southside school, 50-33, 38-24, 55-33, and 67-39, in four recent meetings. The Bucs led the Hornets, 48-41, with four minutes to go but Kern Carson’s eight points down the stretch pushed Lincoln to a 53-49 victory and their second big win in a week. They stopped St. Augustine, 55-38, three days earlier and finished with a 10-6 league record, 11-9 overall.
Sweetwater won its second straight Metropolitan League title with a 9-1 record, losing only in the final game to 8-2 Chula Vista, 44-32. The Red Devils won an earlier match on Wayne Sevier’s late jump shot, 42-40, on the Sweetwater floor.
While vaunted City League teams went out in the first round of the playoffs, Sweetwater (13-5) and Chula Vista (16-9) won their openers. Sweetwater outlasted the 23-6, visiting Anaheim Colonists, 41-37, and Chula Vista scored a stunning, 48-47 victory over the heavily favored San Diego Cavemen.
The Spartans were not awed by San Diego’s record or reputation. They took a 14-10 first-quarter lead and increased it to 26-19 at halftime. The Cavers seemed to be in command after knocking down all 10 of their field goal attempts and taking a 39-32 advantage at the end of three quarters.
But Coach Al Gilbert’s Spartans did not shrink. They pecked away at the Cavers’ lead and finally went ahead on Art Johnson’s looper from the baseline with 50 seconds left and then rode out what they thought was a one-point victory.
The Spartans began celebrating at the final gun but an official had called Dick Baumann for a foul on San Diego’s Ezell Singleton, who could not convert, and Chula Vista, behind Baumann’s 11 points, 10 each by Phil Lind and Bill Foley, and 9 and 8, respectively by Johnson and Dennis Mesker, moved on to a home game at the Chula Vista Recreation Center against the Colton Yellowjackets.
The formula that beat San Diego was missing as the Spartans, shooting poorly, lost a lead of 20-18 early in the second quarter and were eliminated by the visitors’ three-sport star Kenny Hubbs and his teammates, 45-37.
Sweetwater was knocked out by Compton Centennial, 53-45, in the dimly-lit Compton High gymnasium. The taller Apaches held Sweetwater’s Bobby Jordan to four points at halftime and took a 24-14 lead which they extended to 37-25 after three quarters.
The Cougars, behind brothers Toby and Steve Thurlow and coached by former Point Loma and San Diego State standout Don Hegerle, posted a 20-11 record and tied with Oceanside (17-7) for the Avocado League title. Toby’s 18 points led the Cougars in a fourth-quarter run that resulted in a 55-49 playoff for the big Avocado and a berth in the Small Schools playoff quarterfinals.
Escondido edged Santa Ana Mater Dei, 50-48, at Bing Crosby Hall in Del Mar, where it had beaten Oceanside. The Cougars defeated Thermal Coachella Valley, 53-37, in the semifinals but were beaten, 49-40 in the finals by Orange at Fullerton High. The Panthers, who won 30 of 33 games, including 27 in a row, finally put away the Cougars with a 19-13 fourth quarter.
Fontana Newman topped visiting Ramona, 45-44, and ended Ramona’s 16-game winning streak on a last-second shot for the smallest schools title. Newman, which scored 124 points in a game earlier in the season, also had ousted Army-Navy, 59-38, in a first-round game.
Ramona, trailing, 41-36, at the end of three quarters, overcame a stall by Newman and took a 44-43 lead on Don Donahue’s basket with 14 seconds remaining. A basket as time ran out by Newman’s Gilbert Velasquez spelled defeat for the Bulldogs.
Donahue scored 14 points and Neal Walters 12 for Ramona, which finished with a 16-3 record.
The Chula Vista pep band and cheerleaders rallied the student body during the noon recess before the first Sweetwater game. A false threat of an explosive forced an evacuation of everyone to the football stadium, where the cheerleaders rallied the students again. Sweetwater won, 42-40.
Chula Vista took the rematch from its nearby rival before an overflow crowd of 1,800 at the Chula Vista Recreation Center. A standing-room crowd of more than 1,300 filled Sweetwater’s 1,000-seat building for the teams’ first meeting.
Crawford in the City Prep League and Mount Miguel in the Metropolitan circuit were newcomers and the results were as expected. Crawford finished with a 2-19 record, Mount Miguel, 5-14.
Crawford’s first-ever game was a 42-35 loss to El Cajon Valley. Mount Miguel, as part of the doubleheader, was beaten by St. Augustine, 55-37. The Matadors topped Crawford the next night, 53-49, as Darrell Rathje scored 26 points.
Crawford, which played only 10th and 11th graders, got a reality check when its first league game ended in a 54-15 loss to San Diego.
The Colts did not look forward to their second-round game against St. Augustine, after surrendering 102 in the first. The Saints won, 64-40, Tom Shaules played only in the third quarter and scored 14 points.
MAN WITHOUT A HOME
Having to practice on the school’s outdoor courts because there was no gymnasium didn’t stop Helix’ John Wible, the Metropolitan League’s leading scorer.
Wible scored 42 points, breaking Gail Barsotti’s school record of 32, in a 57-54 loss to Lincoln and had 27 points as Helix won third place in the Fillmore Tournament with a 67-48 victory over Santa Barbara.
Wible averagedv 20.4 with 388 points in 19 games. Helix was 7-12 and had to play all home games at Grossmont High.
Fallbrook’s Pete Sachse labored in virtual anonymity with a pedestrian Fallbrook team (11-11), but coach Jack Sandschulte said he wouldn’t trade the 6-1 sniper for anyone, including Tom Shaules.
Sachse set an Avocado League record with 33 points in a 72-54 loss to San Dieguito and broke the record again with 34 in a 63-48 win over Carlsbad.
San Diegans Don Clarkson and Shan Deniston were given a plum assignment…they were the game officials for the Southern Section championship game…Compton defeated Compton Centennial, 57-55…Chula Vista claimed the consolation championship in the Chino tournament, 35-33, over Escondido…St. Augustine converted 28 of 35 free throws in its 74-50 victory over Lincoln…Escondido’s Toby Thurlow made 11 consecutive free throws in a 69-52 win over Vista…San Diego and Hoover won three of four on their annual Northern trip in December…the Cavers beat Glendale Hoover, 58-49, and Glendale, 68-53…Hoover lost to Glendale, 51-44, but defeated Glendale Hoover, 56-39…Mission Baty became the third team to win two Kiwanis Tournaments, succeeding El Monte (1948-49) and Beverly Hills (1953-54)…