1951-52: Six of Significance

1) Point Loma’s almost rags-to-almost-riches season ended with a call from Uncle Sam.

2) Hoover’s 11-1 ride through the City Prep League and 23-win campaign stalled after an 11-point lead in the playoffs.

3) Helix, without a gymnasium, or a campus, did not play like a first-year team.

4) Chula Vista made the small schools finals again.

5) San Diego High took a back seat despite winning the Kiwanis Tournament and surprising in Beverly Hills.

6) A St. Augustine player brought new meaning to term basketball doubleheader.

Taking them in reverse:

TRY TO TOP THIS

Don McElhaney, a guard on the Saints’ Class B team, was pressed into action for the varsity game with La Jolla.

McElhaney, according to writer Gene Earl’s “High Line” column in The San Diego Union, started and went all the way in a 44-23 loss.

Not finished, McElhenny also started went all the way in the B game, a 37-26 loss to the Vikings, said Earl.

Two, probable 32-minute games in one day, equivalent to more than three overtimes in the NBA!

CAVERS HARD TO FIGURE

The 16-8 record, third-place, 7-5 finish in the CPL, a 55-33 loss to Long Beach Poly in December, and the broom from Hoover, 40-35, and 42-41, overshadowed some strong performances by San Diego.

The Hillers won the Kiwanis Tournament, defeating St. Augustine, 52-35, riding out overtime victories of 38-35 over Inglewood and 41-38 over Beverly Hills, and became an unexpected winner in the finals, 50-43 over Santa Monica after Samohi knocked out Hoover, 40-35.

The Cavers’ in-and-out CPL campaign was interrupted in midseason by the Beverly Hills Tournament.

San Diego’s Carl Beyrer and Chuck Pappert (from left) augmented tough-around-the-hoop Tom Cofield (middle).

The Cavers rebounded from their earlier loss to Poly, winning, 56-43, and defeated Huntington Beach 49-48, ending the Oilers’ 18-game winning streak.

San Diego was beaten in the semifinals the next day by Long Beach Wilson, 37-36, before coming back to top Ventura, 52-41, for third place.

BACK IN TITLE GAME

Chet DeVore, who took on added responsibility as Chula Vista’s football coach in September, guided the Spartans into the Southern California finals again.

The Spartans raced to an 11-1 Metropolitan League record and were 16-11 overall but couldn’t repeat their 1950-51 championship.

A 41-32 win over Southern Prep champ Ramona in the first round was followed by a win over Hemet that snapped the Bulldogs’ 17-game winning streak, but Claremont, a loser to the Spartans in ’51, won the rematch, 34-33.

SURPRISING HIGHLANDERS

It could be said that Grossmont tolerated the arrival of first-year Helix.

The Foothillers were forced to share their campus with Helix students while the new school was being constructed on University Avenue in La Mesa.

Nor could Grossmont athletic personnel have been happy with the necessary, new enrollment boundary.

Grossmont standouts Noel Mickelsen and Chuck Lehmkuhl resided in the Highlanders’ district.

Another inconvenience was basketball coach Ralph Chaplin’s also moving with his star players.

The Highlanders became heroes to all other first-year teams when they edged El Monte, 35-32, for the Kiwanis Limited Division title and were a credible 6-6 in the CPL and 16-7 overall.

A final indignity came when the Highlanders swept two league games from the their big brothers at Grossmont.

PLUS 14 VICTORIES

Point Loma coach Hilbert Crosthwaite whistled the Pointers’ first practice in October, determined to improve on the 5-17 record in 1950-51 and pondering his future.

A few weeks later Crosthwaite, a Lt. Cmdr. in the Navy Reserve, received orders to report on Jan. 1 to the Brooklyn Naval Yard submarine command in New York.

Point Loma coeds are agog as action gets close. La Jolla’s Don Clark and Pointers’ Dave Gibson (behind Clark) scramble for loose ball.

Crosthwaite subsequently was able to receive a deferment until the end of the Pointers’ season, in which they were 10-2 in the CPL and with a 41-21, late-season victory over Hoover.

Point Loma’s finish earned a CIF playoff berth.

Playoffs?

The military wasn‘t interested in the Southern Section’s postseason or Point Loma’s first-ever appearance.

Crosthwaite headed to his Korean War assignment after the Pointers’ final regular-season game, a 31-30, upset loss in overtime to La Jolla that robbed the Lomans of a co-championship with Hoover.

B team mentor Ed Thomas coached a 43-36 playoff loss to Colton, leaving Point Loma with a 19-7 record.

REDBIRDS ROLL

Hoover, sailing along at 17-1 in February, with a 38-37 win over closest pursuer Point Loma, was rocked by the Pointers, 41-21 but still finished earned its first league title since 1946-47.

The Cardinals outscored Ontario Chaffey, 17-7, in the final quarter to win, 41-31, in the first round of the playoffs and took a 27-16, halftime lead over 26-4 Fillmore in a quarterfinals test at San Diego High.

Hoover’s 23-win rotation usually was comprised of (from left) Fred Forster, Bob Metzler, Harry Harrison, Dick Pomeroy, Ray Woodmansee, Ron Wiebe, Bill Hinchy, and Boice Brooks.

 

 

 

 

Hoover ace Fred Forster fouled out midway in the third quarter after scoring 12 points.  Fillmore gradually caught the Cardinals at 42 as regulation play ended.

The Flashes outscored the Cardinals, 5-0, in overtime and secured a 47-42 win. Hoover closed with a 23-3 record.

TOURNAMENTS ‘R’ US

Growing in stature each year, the fourth annual Kiwanis Tournament attracted a record 26 teams, 10 more than in 1950-51.  San Diego High and local Kiwanis clubs co-sponsored the mid-December event.

The larger field was split, with 16 teams in an Unlimited Divisions and 10 in a Limited Division for schools with enrollment of 400 or under.

La Jolla opened a new gymnasium and the Vikings’ new digs were a welcome addition. Other hosts were Point Loma, Hoover, and Kearny, which played at the Linda Vista Community Center.

The trend to midseason tournaments, longer than the one-day “classics”  that evolved with the millennium 50 years later, continued with St. Augustine taking part in the Los Angeles Mt. Carmel event and Point Loma and San Diego in the two-day Beverly Hills card.

Also on the calendar was coach Hal Niedermeyer’s annual Coronado Tournament for Class C and D clubs, plus the Santa Monica event for Class B squads that included Hoover, and a postseason foray at Vista for Southern  Prep League squads.

Point Loma went out early at Beverly Hills, losing to Ventura, 44-41. Julian upset Ramona, 35-32, for the Vista championship.

Coach Chet DeVore and his Metropolitan League champion Chula Vista Spartans (from left): Fred Armer, Lavon Baker, Carl Palmer, Jerry Stallard, Bob Neely, Jim Beasley, Stu Nodever, Dick Steiner.

DREADED ADMINISTRATIVE GLITCH

Class B teams from Chula Vista and San Dieguito forfeited four victories each because of a “clerical error” in adding exponents (height, weight, age).  A number of players became ineligible for their B teams and were “scaled” to varsity.

The teams actually used over-exponent players in five games, but the Chula Vista-San Dieguito game was declared no contest.  The Spartans fell from 10-0 to 6-3 and San Dieguito from 8-2 to 4-6.  Escondido, 8-2, backed into the championship

SCORE IT

Helix’ Noel Mickelson was the CPL leader with 150 points, a 12.5 average  for 12 games. Hoover’s Bob Metzler was next with 149 and Helix’ Chuck Lehmkuhl third with 147.

San Diego’s Tom Cofield had 127 points in 11 games and View PostCofield’s 281 overall made for a 12.2 average.

SET SHOTS

Hoover and Point Loma were part of a playoff doubleheader at San Bernardino Junior College…St. Augustine’s Dougherty Gymnasium opened on Dec. 3, 1951, with a St. Augustine victory of 56-36 over Grossmont…San Diego coach Merrill Douglas was sidelined with the flu, so assistant Duane Maley coached the Hillers at the Beverly Hills tournament…Grossmont and Point Loma postponed a game because it was in conflict with a dinner honoring the Pointers’ football team…Fred Forster’s free throw in overtime pushed Hoover past San Diego, 42-41…Coronado, led by John Hannon and Harry Sykes, split with Chula Vista in the Metro League but the 6-0 Islanders lost 54-52 to 1-6 Escondido, led by Don Portis and Rich Gehring…Ramona, led by Billy and Bobby Bivens, defeated Julian, 35-32, for the Vista championship….

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2 Responses to 1951-52: Six of Significance

  1. Roger Conlee says:

    It was Chuck (not Rick) Lehmkuhl. You got it wrong the first time but right the second. Besides basketball, Lehmkuhl was a solid shortstop in baseball. Longtime San Diego High coach Les Cassie once told me Lehmkuhl was one of the best hitters the Cavers faced.

    • Rick says:

      Thank you for writing, Roger. I’ll make the correction. I struggled writing this one. It was hard to find interesting material going through the newspaper archives.

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