They were cast in the 6-foot, 11-inch shadow of Bill Walton and Helix’ 33-0 team of 1969-70.
History has overlooked the Mount Miguel clubs that dominated the Grossmont League and San Diego Section in the late 1960s.
The Matadors were 25-6 in 1966-67 and 32-0 this season.
But coach Dick Ridgway’s squad did not embrace an intersectional schedule.
The Matadors won a couple December tournaments of local import and ran roughshod over area teams, eight times scoring more than 100 points.
Walton and Helix “went national”.
The Highlanders dominated the prestigious Covina Tournament, winning by 42 points in the finals against Pasadena and, in an earlier round, routing eventual Southern Section champion Long Beach Millikan by 24 points.
Walton was featured in Faces in the Crowd, a weekly feature of Sports Illustrated.
Ridgway, who played for coach John Wooden at UCLA in the early ‘fifties, employed a pressing zone defense that Wooden’s teams had perfected to domination on the collegiate level.
Junior varsity graduate Ken Barstow, a 6-foot, 7-inch center, joined 6-5 forward Mike Ela and two split-second guards, Blake Mathews, and Ken Greenman, who formed the offensive and defensive attack along with forward Dave Lower.
Bill Center of The San Diego Union covered the Matadors and Walton’s Helix squads.
Which was better?
”Very close,” said Center. “Walton was such a great athlete that I think Helix would win.”
But Center reserved a special place in his hoops hierarchy for the Spring Valley entry.
“Mount Miguel played so well together,” said Center. “It was the most fun team to watch that I covered. It was so unselfish and Mathews and Greenman were the perfect players to run his (Ridgway’s) press.”
The Matadors outscored their 32 opponents by an average score of 85.1-46.6 and set a County single-game scoring record in a 121-64 victory over Santana. They beat Point Loma, 118-54, and scored 92 points in the last three quarters in a 111-62 win over El Cajon Valley.
Ela scored 685 points and averaged 21.4. Greenman scored 594 and averaged 18.5. Mathews scored 467 and averaged 14.6.
Helix, a year away from beginning its great run, was 0-4 against its neighboring rival. The Matadors prevailed, 80-62, 86-57, and 67-56 in the regular season, and 69-55 in the CIF finals.
Oceanside got closer than anyone, bowing, 58-47, in the playoff quarterfinals after trailing, 31-28, at the half. The Pirates, led by big Jim McCargo, Steve Waddell, and Willie Buchanon, had won 14 straight.
Point Loma coach Don Buechler tossed cold water on the idea that Mount Miguel could beat the best team in the Southern Section.
Buechler would know. His team dropped a 118-54 decision to the Matadors and also played a powerful Northern squad.
Point Loma scheduled an unusual, late-season, nonleague home game against the 27-0 Compton Tarbabes, who would conclude a 32-0 season with the Southern Section championship a couple weeks later.
Compton easily raced past the 14-11 Pointers, 106-43, and Buechler was asked to compare the Matadors and the Northern powerhouse.
“They’re the best team I’ve seen in many a season,” Buechler said of Compton. “There is no team in our area that can match them man-for-man, rebounding, shooting, and individual defense.
“Everyone takes turns killing you.”
Mount Miguel won the Unlimited Division, 83-50, over Eastern League power Morse. The Matadors topped Granite Hills in an earlier game, 103-38, but fell short of the record 104 by Newhall Hart against Oceanside in 1954.
Castle Park claimed the Limited Division championship, 63-56, over Chula Vista and Vista topped Fallbrook, 55-54, in overtime to win the newly created Classified Division.
Top seed Mount Miguel defeated No. 2 Lincoln, another Eastern League big shot, 69-52, after scoring 107 in one tournament game and 118 in another.
Chula Vista, which had been playing in this post-December event almost from the time the school opened in 1947, swept to four straight victories including a 73-56 decision over Santa Clarita Simi Valley in the championship game.
SAN BERNARDINO KIWANIS
A free throw with 1:30 remaining in the game was what separated Long Beach Poly from San Diego in the Jackrabbits’ 63-62 championship game victory. Cavers Steve Clifford and Orie McLemore were all-tournament.
San Dieguito won its own tournament, 48-47, over Coronado. The Mustangs posted a 4-0 record in the round-robin event, followed by Coronado (3-1), San Marcos (2-2), Poway (1-3), and Bonita Vista (0-4).
EL CENTRO ELKS
Six-foot, 10 1/2-inch Ron Dahms scored 25 points to lead Madison to a 62-47 win over Orange Glen, which was making its second straight appearance in the finals.
Several other San Diego teams were involved. Brawley edged Crawford, 56-55, for third place, the Colts missing Rodney Boone, who sustained a back injury the day before.
El Centro Central topped Morse, playing without Monroe Nash, home in bed with the flu, 50-46, for fifth place. La Jolla defeated Holtville, 54-43, for the consolation title.
Despite protests from Metropolitan League coaches that their top teams, Chula Vista, Castle Park, and Hilltop, were dissed in the 16-team pairings, the postseason playoff committee approved its original seedings.
No. 1 Mount Miguel ousted 24-5 Castle Park, 64-44, in the first round and 17-8 University upset 26-3 Chula Vista, 52-50. Hilltop upheld South Bay pride by bouncing 15-10 Clairemont, 69-51.
Hilltop (23-9) reached the semifinals before bowing to 21-10 Helix, 69-57. Mount Miguel thumped Madison, 67-46.
The 27-5 Warhawks defeated Hilltop, 73-54, for third place.
Steve Bajo scored 29 points as Marian (21-6) was a 91-44 winner over 11-5 La Jolla Country Day in the Class A final.
Santana defeated El Cajon Valley, 90-76, by converting 50 of 70 fouls shots.
Game officials called 72 infractions, an average of more than two a minute, including 45 against the Braves.
Seven El Cajon Valley players and three Sultans were whistled to the bench with five personals each.
The Braves converted 22 of 36 free throw attempts and would have won, 54-40, if only field goals counted.
Bizarre finish in a Western League game between University and Clairemont.
The score was tied at 62 with the Chiefs in possession when the Dons’ Kevin Madden was called for a personal foul with four seconds remaining.
Madden complained, apparently too loudly, and was additionally assessed a technical.
Clairemont’s Pat Casey missed the first free-throw in the one-and-one for the personal.
But Clairemont remained in possession as the Chiefs still had a free throw coming for the technical.
Chiefs coach Russ Cravens opted for his best player and scorer, Frank Petersen, to attempt the T free throw.
Petersen found the bottom of the net, giving Clairemont a 63-62 lead.
Four seconds still remained and the Chiefs retained possession at midcourt.
Clairemont stunningly was called for a rules violation with one second remaining.
The Chiefs, according to student correspondent Homer Williams, were called for “a violation of the rule which requires the team ahead move the ball into an attacking area.”
Clairemont coach Cravens was outraged, lashing out at the official, who promptly slapped Cravens with a technical.
All’s well that ended well. University’s Dennis Kramer, who was 4 for 4 from the foul line, missed the technical freebie.
“SCORING” THE BASKETBALL
It’s a trite term overused in the modern game, but scoring was what San Diego preps did best this season.
Ten players averaged at least 20 points a game and 10 teams scored at least 63.3 points a game. Figures unheard of as recently as 10 years before.
Madison’s Ron Dahms scored 706 points, third to the 737 that Crawford’s Larry Blum scored in 1962-63 and to the 736 by St. Augustine’s Tom Shaules in 1957-58.
Morse’s Monroe Nash won the scoring championship with a 24.3 average, with 608 points in 25 games. Dahms averaged 22.06 and was edged by sophomore Paul Halupa of Bonita Vista, who scored 574 points in 26 games for an average of 22.08.
Halupa’s total represented the most ever by a 10th grade player.
HEAVENS! MR. HAVENS
Hoover’s John Havens broke two school records.
Havens’ 38 points in a 91-69 win over Granite Hills in consolation play of the Kiwanis Tournament bettered the 36 by Dick Barnes in 1944-45.
Havens, who averaged 18.4 points as the Cardinals struggled to a 9-17 record, had a season total of 478, bettering the 446 by Norris Greenwood in 1957-58.
NEEDED: ONE COPY EDITOR
San Diego coach Bill Standly did not take kindly to what he considered editorial impudence by the staff of The Russ, as noted by Don King in Caver Conquest.
Standly was not amused after reading a headline in the school newspaper that described a “Bush Sports Calendar.”
After all, the coach had put together a strong nonleague and intersectional schedule as his team was defending its 1966-67 San Diego Section championship.
Standly was mollified somewhat when a Russ editor apologized and explained that the headline was a typographical error and should have read “Busy Sports Calendar.”
Helix outscored Hilltop, 24-12, in nine minutes of the second and third quarters in their 69-57, CIF semifinal playoff victory before 3,573 persons at Peterson Gym, “with sophomore center Bill Walton and forward Paul Drozd leading the way.”
Writer Bill Center elaborated:
“Walton, a spindly, 6-6 center who was brought up from the junior varsity for the playoffs, took charge around the basket, batting down two shots and grabbing three defensive rebounds, which set up Highlander scores.”
Walton also scored eight points in this first, brief appearance on the big stage, which he would command for the next several years, at Helix, UCLA, and in the NBA.
IT’S A CRAZY GAME
–Mar Vista led visiting Coronado, 43-22, at halftime and lost, 65-64, as the Islanders took their only lead in the game on Jim Haught’s looper with 21 seconds remaining.
–Lincoln’s Jerry Powell scored 20 points, including 10 in a row and 12 in the final seven minutes, as the Hornets topped Crawford, 64-56.
–St. Augustine, 2-12, beat 12-5 Lincoln, 69-66. Hoover, 6-12, beat 14-6 Morse, 51-48. Crawford, 8-12, defeated 15-5 Lincoln, 56-53.
–Monroe Nash, despite 4 personal fouls, scored 19 points in the final 11 minutes as Morse beat San Diego, 72-70, in two overtimes.
–Madison jumped to 34-16 lead over Point Loma, but then was outscored, 50-32, and the teams deadlocked at 66, forcing overtime, which Madison dominated and won, 70-67.
–James (Bouncy) Moore broke free for a layup with two seconds to go in the second overtime as San Diego defeated Crawford, 75-73, after the teams deadlocked at 62 in regulation play and 66 in the first overtime.
–Helix trailed Monte Vista, 29-12, and then led, 56-39, before finally moving past Monte Vista, 68-65. Bob Kellison and Bill’s brother, Bruce Walton, led the Scots with 13 points each.
Although eliminated in the playoffs’ first round, it was a banner year for the Chula Vista Spartans, who won their third Metropolitan League championship in five seasons under coach Larry Armbrust and tied the school record for most wins…Bob Olson scored 35 points in a 77-59 win over Coronado and broke the school record of 33 set by Koichi Yamamoto in 1956-57 and equaled by Eric Mortenson in ’65-’66…Clairemont’s Frank Petersen was the season’s single-game scoring leader with 48 points in an 85-51 win over first-year Bonita Vista…the 21st annual December Kiwanis Tournament expanded to three divisions…there now were 16 Unlimited entries, 16 Limited, and 8 Classified…the Oscar Foster era had ended at San Diego, but the Cavers still posted a 20-8 record with one returning starter (Orie McLemore) and four junior varsity graduates…Hilltop joined Mount Miguel in 100-point club with a 104-46 win over Bonita Vista as forward John Tschogl set a school record with 41 points…Tschogl played at the University of California at Santa Barbara and for two seasons in the National Basketball Association with the Philadelphia 76ers…3,075 persons attended the Saturday night playoff finals at Peterson Gym, bringing two-night attendance to almost 7,000….