Seldom was a defeat as disappointing as that which knocked out Hoover in the semifinals of San Diego’s swansong in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Cardinals sustained a numbing, 39-34 loss to Anaheim in the semifinals round in a season when they were unbeaten for 26* straight games.
Coach Charlie Hampton had returned several key players from the 20-7 club of 1958-59, including twin towers 6-foot, 7 ½ inch Walt Ramsey and 6-5 Bill Wylie.
Ramsey and Wylie were joined again by John Bocko a sharpshooting 6-foot forward, and 6-foot, 1-inch Johnny (Bo) Williams, the glue in Hoover’s backcourt.
Baseball ace Dave Morehead moved up from the junior varsity and became the only underclass starter.
The Cardinals’ almost perfect season:
1—HOOVER 46, ALUMNI 42.
Unlike usually pliant, slightly out-of-shape graduates, the former Cardinals were competitive, losing, 46-42. Ramsey led the varsity with 19 points.
Norris Greenwood, who set a school single-season scoring record of 446 points in 1957-58 and had moved on to Cal Western University, played for the alums along with former first stringers Tommy Dobyns, Art Samuel, Wayne Britt, Harry Stadnyk, and Bill Lee.
2—HOOVER 48, GROSSMONT 32.
The Foothillers couldn’t find the basket and trailed, 25-5. at halftime. Ramsey scored 25 points.
3—HOOVER 61, HELIX 36, @San Diego.
Surprising, actually shocking, was this win over a team considered by some to be the best in the area. Helix had all of its weapons intact, including high scoring Jim (Bones) Bowers and Clayton Raaka. Ramsey (20), Bocko (11), Norm Potter (10) led the way.
4—HOOVER 57, @GLENDALE 49.
The Cardinals and San Diego High made December trips north for several years. The favored Glendale Dynamiters featured 6-5 Tom Dose, destined to be Southern Section player of the year, but Wylie (20), Ramsey (17), and Bocko (14) kept the hosts and Dose (15) at a distance.
5—HOOVER 64, @GLENDALE HOOVER 51.
The Cardinals pulled away the next night after leading 39-33 at halftime. Bocko scored 23 and Williams 19.
6—HOOVER 72, MOUNT MIGUEL 15.
Hampton emptied his bench as 12 players scored and 14 saw action in the opening round of the 12th annual event.
7—HOOVER 62, KEARNY 38.
The Komets’ Jim Johnson led all scorers with 19 points but that was offset by Ramsey’s 17, Bocko’s 15, and 11 by Morehead.
8—HOOVER 39, HELIX 30.
The Highlanders switched gears and played a slow-down game, this after Helix set an Unlimited Division record with 99 points the day before.
9—HOOVER 54, CRAWFORD 34.
Crawford, in its first year under coach Jim Sams, who would go on to compile one of the San Diego section’s all-time coaching records, took an 8-1 record into the contest.
The Cardinals’ stiff, man-to-man defense kept the Colts scoreless from the field for more than 10 minutes beginning with the start of the third quarter.
In winning its first Kiwanis Tournament since the inaugural event in 1948, the Cardinals’ average victories were by a score of 54-29.
10—HOOVER 49, @POINT LOMA 34.
The Cardinals stepped into the Western League for their last pre-Eastern League competition.
As it had been most of the season the refrain of Bocko and Ramsey, Ramsey and Bocko was heard as John scored 20 and Walt 13.
11—HOOVER 47, LINCOLN 45.
The Cardinals opened the Eastern campaign against the 4-3 Hornets, a talented team that hadn’t lived to its so-called potential under first-year coach Warren Barritt.
In a gritty struggle, Hoover finally put Lincoln away on Williams’ 30-foot jump shot with 3 seconds left.
Williams scored 24 points as Hoover survived. Bill Wylie was out with a leg infection. Hampton was “barely audible” from effects of the flu, and Ramsey, battling the flu, played only one quarter and scored one point.
Norm Potter, 6-2, and Dave Sickels, 6-5, replaced Ramsey and Wylie. Lincoln’s Joe Cisterna sustained a possible shoulder separation and was hospitalized.
The Cardinals made only 18 of 50 shots from the field for 36 per cent. Lincoln, behind T.W. (Tommy) Bell’s 24 points, shot 43 per cent, 19×43.
12—HOOVER 66, @CRAWFORD 36.
The recovered Wylie led with 15 points and 10 other Cardinals scored.
*(Did Hoover finish the regular season with 24 consecutive wins, as has always been accepted, or was their total actually 23?
(The number appears to be 23.
(Published reports were that the 11-0 Cardinals were scheduled to play only Crawford in the second week of league play. There was no record of a second game that week or a 13th win.
(The San Diego Union’s weekly, Monday morning rundown of standings, however, listed the Cardinals with a 13-0 record, although the Union’s weekly individual and team statistics were for 12 games).
13—HOOVER 63, SAN DIEGO 44.
Biggest crowd of year, probably 1,600 including standees, at Hoover. Hampton’s team collected its first victory over San Diego since 1956-57. Williams and Bocko scored 18 points each.
14—HOOVER 47, @MISSION BAY 36.
The newspaper reported this as the Cardinals’ 15th win in a row. The Union would be one game ahead of Hoover for the rest of the season.
15—HOOVER 59, POINT LOMA 44.
Wylie was picking up steam, connecting on 12 of 17 shots for 25 points and the Cardinals converted 23 of 43 shots for 53 per cent. Walt Ramsey scored one point and fouled out with 5:25 left in the game.
16—HOOVER 85, @ST. AUGUSTINE 52.
Ten players scored, with Wylie (26), Bocko (17), and Ramsey (13) leading the parade.
17—HOOVER 57, @CLAIREMONT 50.
The Cardinals apparently were not excited at the prospect of playing a first-year school with a 6-9 record, in its first game in a new gymnasium, and in the afternoon.
The seemingly disinterested East San Diegans were guided by John Bocko’s 20 points. Ramsey added 17 and Wylie 15.
18—HOOVER 66, @LINCOLN 52.
The Redbirds began the second round of league play with a convincing win at usually troublesome Lincoln. The Cardinals had beaten the Hornets five times by three points or less in the last three seasons.
Hoover converted only 37 per cent of field-goal attempts to Lincoln’s 40 but it commanded the backboards with 61 shots to 52 and with a 30-20 advantage in rebounds.
“Our all-around best effort,” said Hampton, who cautioned that if Hoover (6-0 in the Eastern) fell to San Diego in a couple weeks, “The race could end in a tie.”
19—HOOVER 60, CRAWFORD 36.
They were scoreless for the first four minutes and then solved Crawford’s zone defense, with all five starters scoring at least 10 points.
20—HOOVER 66, EL CENTRO CENTRAL 32.
Hampton picked up a late-season, nonleague game with the visitors from Imperial Valley. All 12 players on each team saw action.
21—HOOVER 59, @SAN DIEGO 43.
The floundering Cavemen were never really in it, trailing 52-28 after three quarters. Hoover’s Big Three scored 48 of the 59 points.
22—HOOVER 74, MISSION BAY 33.
Kenny Hale, whom Charlie Hampton had replaced at Hoover in 1952-53, had retired after beginning the Mission Bay program, and the Buccaneers, contenders in the previous three seasons, were not competitive.
Bucs coach Paul Beck inherited a team minus such recent standouts as Doug Crockett, Frank Schiefer, Tom Tenney, Jerry Dinsmore, and Bill Cravens.
23—HOOVER 73, ST. AUGUSTINE 51.
“Unbeaten, untied, unawed,” wrote Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union of the Cardinals, who concluded an 8-0 league season and 23-0 regular season.
Hoover led, 35-12, at the half after stunning the Saints with a 21-4 second quarter.
SOUTHERN SECTION PLAYOFFS
24—HOOVER 76, HILLTOP 58. The first-year Lancers, coached by the taciturn Paul Pruett, who had success at San Dieguito, posted a 20-win season and won the Chino tournament.
The Chula Vistans were game but not ready for prime time.
Hilltop still was in the contest when it trailed, 61-50, midway in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals eased to the win behind Ramsey’s 25 points, and 18 each by Bocko and Williams.
Writer John MacDonald identified the Hoover back court as “Don” Williams and “John” Morehead.
25—HOOVER 60, COVINA 50,@Walnut.
Writer Magee said the Covina Colts resisted like a young bronc at neutral Mt. San Antonio Junior College in nearby Walnut.
Shorter Covina (23-7), with no starter taller than 6 feet, 3 inches, were coached by the legendary Windorf (Doc) Sooter, who won 647 games from 1947-72.
The Colts took an early, 11-5 lead and battled the Cardinals throughout, but Ramsey hitting jumpers and scoring under the hoop, logged 22 points and kept the Colts reined in.
Hoover, knocking down 50 per cent of its shots in the late regular season, may have felt playoff pressure in the unfamiliar environment, converting only 19 of 53 shots for 36 per cent to Covina’s 18×54 and 30 per cent.
Covina set screens for jump shooter Jerry Barron. Wylie sat with 4 personals with 6:13 left in third.
The story was similar to a 68-57, 1956 playoff loss to Montebello, when the Cardinals got into foul trouble trying to check jump shooting Jerry Pimm.
Hampton had to shift to a zone defense early in the third period. It was the first time this season Hoover had to abandon its favorite, man-for-man barricade.
Sooter wouldn’t say Hoover was toughest team he faced, “but they were toughest on the backboards. They were too big for us.”
Hampton declared the contest was his team’s poorest effort of the season. “Mainly because this was the best defensive team we had played.
“Our boys may have been scared,” added the surprisingly candid Hampton. “I told them how tough Covina was so often I may have scared them.”
26—HOOVER 41, MONROVIA 33.
Monrovia, routed 53-0 by San Diego in the football finals, brought a 20-4 record and a loss to Covina to Hoover.
Hoover led, 12-4, at the end of the first quarter and scored only 11 points in the second and third.
Monrovia played at agonizingly slow pace and the Wildcats’ 6-7 Les Christensen scored 15 points, controlled most of the tips, and held Walt Ramsey to 6 points.
Ramsey ran into foul trouble again, acquiring his fourth with 2:13 left in the half. With the visitors pressing at 22-20 in the third quarter, Hampton called on Ramsey, went into a zone defense, and pulled away.
27—ANAHEIM 39, HOOVER 34, @Los Angeles State.
“A basketball team which has won 27 (sic) straight games can’t possibly be in a slump…” wrote Jerry Magee, but Hampton was worried.
“We certainly haven’t played as well in the playoffs as during the season, but I think it has been more of a mental thing than a physical thing,” the coach told Magee.
Hampton went on to say, “We weren’t up for Hilltop. In the next two games (Covina and Monrovia) we were a little tense, more nervous than we should have been.”
Hampton concluded with “we’ve had two of our better practices. The boys have acted a lot better the last two days.”
Sunset League champion Anaheim won its 29th game against one loss in a 38-36 quarterfinals game against Santa Barbara that was decided in the last two seconds. That win followed a double-overtime, 50-49 victory over Montebello and a 50-47 triumph against Long Beach Wilson.
The Colonists, as they did versus Santa Barbara, continued to travel slowly but in style.
Magee wrote that “Hoover manfully struggled back (from a 25-12 halftime deficit) even with its 6-7 center, Walt Ramsey, out early in the third period with five fouls.”
With Wylie and Bocko scoring, Hoover pulled into a tie at 34 with 5:08 remaining.
But Anaheim continued its strategic pattern. The Cardinals scrambled for possession and fouled.
The Colonists scored the last five points on free throws, winning, 39-34, and advancing to the finals and losing to Long Beach Poly, 46-39.
28–VENTURA 53, HOOVER 50, @Los Angeles State.
Beaten by Poly in the other semifinal, 65-56, Ventura trailed Hoover, 50-45, with 4:11 to go in the third place game the next evening.
The Cardinals went scoreless the rest of the way and dropped a 53-50 decision.
BE LIKE NBA?
Jerry Magee indicated that Hampton, in the coach’s playoff postmortem, seemed to suggest that a rule similar to NBA’s 24-second shot clock should be passed down to the high schools.
“There should be something that should make a team shoot,” said the coach. “I wanted to go into a zone against Anaheim to protect against fouling but if I had I think Anaheim would have been content to just stand there.”
“Every coach thinks this, but I still think we had the best team,” said Hampton.