San Diego was leaving the Southern Section at the end of the school year but was going out with an unprecedented show of force.
Hoover was ranked No. 1 and Helix No. 2 in seeding for the 32-team major playoffs. Glendale, beaten by both Hoover and San Diego, was seeded fourth.
Hoover’s undefeated regular season and the high scoring Highlanders had earned the respect of Southern Section commissioner Ken Fagans, who’d won championships as coach of the dominant Compton Tarbabes in the early ‘fifties.
But the Cardinals and their neighbors in La Mesa eight miles to the East were beaten by the two teams that would play for the title, third-seeded Anaheim (search 1959-60: Cardinals Come Up Short at Finish Line) and unseeded Long Beach Poly.
Helix was beaten, 50-48, at Poly in the quarterfinals, bringing an end to a record-setting, 26-4 season and to the career of coach Bob Divine, who had announced in January that he was stepping down to go into administration.
Divine’s timing was curious, coming in the middle of the season (“This basketball can make an old man of you, the way I coach,” he explained). His team’s sometimes uneven play also was curious.
Helix set a County record by averaging 67.9 points a game, breaking the mark of 64.6 set by St. Augustine in 1957-58.
They trailed host San Diego at the half, 36-13, and won, 52-50.
They lost at Hoover, 61-36, the next evening.
–They switched gears after losing the pre-Kiwanis Tournament game to Hoover and poked along on offense so effectively that the score was 33-30 late in the fourth quarter before the Cardinals prevailed again, 39-30.
They topped Santa Barbara, 65-62, to win the 11th annual Fillmore Tournament in Ventura County after Christmas.
Jim (Bones) Bowers scored 25 points in the Fillmore final and was player of the tournament. Teammates Bob Mackey, Wally Hartwell, and Larry Cook joined Bowers on the all-tournament team.
They defeated middle-of-the-road (12-11) Chula Vista, 49-26, at home but had a 14-game winning streak snapped at Chula Vista, 55-46, depriving the Scots of what would have been a 16-0 run through the Metropolitan League.
Bowers, who led the area in scoring with a 22.9 average and 670 points in 30 games, set a school record with 44 points in a 98-54 win over first-year El Capitan.
Helix had other games of 99 and 94 points and set a County record when it shot 64 per cent from the field in a 114-65 romp over the Vaqueros as Bowers (34) and Clayton Raaka (24) set the pace.
Helix defeated 13-8 Lincoln, 59-46, in the postseason first round and 16-11 Ontario Chaffey, 67-49, in the second round, played at Mount Miguel High. The crowd outside the gymnasium was almost as large as the standing-room gathering of 1,200 inside.
Helix took an 18-13 lead over Poly in the quarterfinals, but the resourceful Jackrabbits, a notoriously poor shooting team but quick and tough on defense, pulled ahead, 23-21, at the half.
After taking a 29-28 lead in the third quarter, the Highlanders “lost control of the boards and were shabby with their ball handling”, according to the Union correspondent at the game.
Bowers, who had scored 10 points in the first quarter, finished with 19. Poly defenders double-teamed Bowers and Raaka, who scored nine points, well below his average, and ignored the other three Helix starters.
The strategy worked.
Helix trailed, 49-48, with 30 seconds remaining, but the Jackrabbits’ Tom Sisk made one of two free throws to close out the win.
After losing to Glendale Hoover, 51-40, on Friday San Diego recovered to defeat Glendale and CIF player-of-the-year Tom Dose the next night, 57-49.
Willie Bolton, Ernest (Moe) Watson, and Lou Scott, who had played in the Cavers’ 53-0, football championship victory against Monrovia the night before, made the trip north the next day and saw action that evening.
San Diego’s 11-10 record was its poorest since a 6-8 record in 1934-35, but the Cavers not only trimmed high playoff seed Glendale on the road but were ahead of CIF champion Long Beach Poly before losing in the final seconds, 40-39.
San Diego overcame favored Lincoln with a 14-4 spurt in three minutes of the fourth quarter and defeated the Hornets, 64-59, in what Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union described as a “pell-mell” game in front of a shrieking crowd on the Hornets’ floor.
Alfred Willis, the younger brother of Cavers guard Albert Willis came out of the stands and launched a punch at Lincoln’s Al Catlin, who had been aggressively guarding the older Willis.
Lincoln coach Warren Barritt rushed off the bench and literally back-pedaled Catlin to the end of the gym as referees Doug Harvey and Nolan Harvey sought to maintain order.
San Diego’s victory was achieved despite coach Dick Otterstad’s suspending leading scorer Ben Pargo, who was not at the game.
Football star H.D. Murphy and Watson each scored 17 points as the normally offensively erratic Cavers controlled the backboards and shot 44 per cent on 26×58 shooting. Lincoln was 23×44 for 52 per cent.
POINTERS TAKE ADVANTAGE
Western League teams were slotted into small schools playoff participation in all sports except football. Eastern League teams would compete with large schools for all postseason sports.
The positioning was result of the City Prep League’s dividing into two circuits after the 1958-59 school year.
Point Loma, with a 5-8 record at one point in the season and 12-10 after clinching the Western League championship, was the postseason beneficiary.
The Pointers rolled to five consecutive victories to claim the Class AA crown, along the way defeating Beaumont, 32-24, Yucaipa, 55-23, Rosemead Bosco Tech, 54-37, Lompoc, 54-40, and, finally, San Marino, 52-36.
As Jerry Magee wrote, paraphrasing Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill, “Winston (Winnie) Yetta enjoyed his finest hour, scoring 22 points…”
Point Loma players hoisted Yetta and coach Hilbert Crosthwaite and paraded them around the floor at the Los Angeles State venue.
Yetta’s 10 field goals were reflective of the Pointers’ effectiveness. They converted 21 of 44 attempts for 48 per cent.
After two disappointing losses for San Diego teams in the semifinals, Crosthwaite admitted to feeling some pressure.
“We had everything to lose,” said the coach. “We couldn’t have walked out of here if we hadn’t won.”
Helix’ Clayton Raaka was able to shed a cast on his broken left hand and burst out in a 68-38 win over Escondido. Raaka scored 15 points in the second quarter, had 20 at the half, and finished with 28.
Lincoln’s Al Catlin was discovered to have played the entire season with a broken wrist on his right, shooting hand that he sustained during the football season. Catlin then was ruled out of the Hornets’ 59-46 playoff loss to Helix.
Hilltop, a first-year school, emerged to post a 20-9 record and win the post-Christmas Chino Tournament and Metropolitan League title.
DREADED ADMINISTRATIVE GLITCH
San Dieguito, aided by some legislation, clinched the Avocado League championship with a 63-43 win over Carlsbad as John Fairchild, a 6-foot-7 sharpshooter up from the junior varsity, scored 15 points.
The Mustangs’ earlier, 64-54 loss to Oceanside had become a forfeit win after discovery of an ineligible Oceanside player and gave the Mustangs a one-game lead over Mar Vista.
MORE SMALL SCHOOLS PLAYOFFS
San Dieguito led until the final 56 seconds before bowing at Bing Crosby Hall in Del Mar to Orange, 46-45, in Class AA.
Orange was outscored, 24-18, in the fourth quarter but held on to defeat Kearny, 64-63, in a second-round game at Santa Ana.
Army-Navy’s Matt Burnett stole an inbound pass and scored with two seconds remaining to defeat Tustin, 42-40 in Class A. The Warriors then were eliminated, 60-38, by San Bernardino Aquinas.
Ramona was sidelined in Placentia by host Valencia, 62-39, the loss punctuated by a scoreless third quarter.
The Kiwanis Tournament individual scoring record was broken twice on the first night…Carlsbad’s Bob Wueste scored 40 in a 61-53 win over La Jolla…St. Augustine’s Jacob Crawford knocked down 42 points an hour later in an 83-40 win over Sweetwater…finals in the Unlimited and Limited divisions were held at one venue for the first time …Hoover was host and topped Crawford, 54-34, for the Unlimited and Mar Vista edged Oceanside, 51-49, for the Limited…for the first time there were no visiting northern teams in the tournament, only El Centro Central from the Imperial Valley… Helix’ 114-point game bettered the record set by St. Augustine in a 105-34 win over La Jolla in 1957-58…St. Augustine’s Jacob Crawford missed the team bus to Hoover, arrived late, and scored three points in the first half…the Saints, trailing, 35-12, at halftime made a game of it, outscoring Hoover in the second half, 39-38, and Crawford finished with 25 points in the 73-51 loss…Julian, scoreless until one minute remaining in the half, bowed to San Miguel School, 38-22…Fallbrook scored the first 22 points in a 51-18 win over University…Chula Vista received two technical fouls for not advancing the ball in the offensive court in its 49-26 loss to Helix…the Spartans trailed, 5-0, after one quarter and 16-1 at the half…the Spartans went into a freeze in their next game against Hilltop and got into a 15-2 hole…Hilltop won, 58-48…Mission Bay won a double-overtime, 57-55 game against La Jolla when a Vikings player was cited for goal-tending in the second, sudden-death period…Chula Vista moved out of the city’s Recreation Center into its own gym in midseason…Hilltop had a gymnasium when it opened its doors in September…Kearny coach Jim Poole, a 1950 Point Loma grad, was a national badminton champion and worked 20 years as an NFL game official…The Crawford-San Diego, Eastern League contest served as the preliminary to the San Diego Junior College-East Los Angeles Metropolitan Conference contest…the game at San Diego High featured ex-Cavers Arthur (Hambone) Williams and Edward Lee Johnson for the Knights….