2013-14: Bennie Edens Basketball Classic?

Amid the flourishing mid-season “shootouts” is Point Loma High, among the increasing number of schools hosting all-day, nonleague “showcase” games.

The contests don’t always turn out to be showcases, because games often have to be scheduled a year in advance and teams’ fortunes change, ebbing and flowing for myriad reasons.

The Pointers call their  annual event Saturday, January 18,  the “Bennie Edens Basketball Classic.”

Let’s try that again.

The “Bennie Edens Basketball Classic”.

Yes, that’s what it’s known as.

Edens, who passed away in 2008,  was an outstanding coach at Point Loma from 1955-97. His teams won 239 football games, second highest total in San Diego Section history.

Bennie never  blew a whistle, diagrammed a play, or called a time out in  a high school basketball game.

Or got a technical foul.  At least not on the varsity level.

The Edens name still resonates, but a more likely coach to honor in the basketball context probably would have been  Hilbert Crosthwaite, who holds a singular distinction among all Point Loma hoop mentors.

(Lee Trepanier was a legend among girls’ basketball coaches, most notably with the 32-0 state championship team of 1983-84, led by Terri Mann).

Crosthwaite’s 1959-60 Pointers came out of the weeds to win the Southern California AA championship, the last by a local team before the San Diego Section became reality the following year.

Crosthwaite moved on after the championship run to coach the San Diego Junior College team  and took the Knights to the 1962-63 state championship game, losing to Fresno City, 76-69, and finishing with a 25-5 record.

The San Diego State graduate coached at Point for 11 seasons, from 1947-48 to 1951-52 and for five seasons beginning in 1954-55.  His overall record at Point Loma was 116-116 and his last squad was playing at that pace for most of the season.

The Pointers tied coach Jim Poole’s Kearny Komets for first in the Western League but were only 12-10 overall when they launched their playoff run.

The Pointers won their opening game at Hemet High against Beaumont, 32-24, then defeated  Yucaipa at Redlands University, 55-23.  They followed by knocking off Rosemead Bosco Tech, 54-37, and Lompoc, 54-40, quarterfinals and semifinals games at home, and San Marino, 52-36, in finals at Los Angeles State.

That Point Loma probably was the school with the largest enrollment in the AA division was not lost on the straight-shooting Crosthwaite.  “We had everything to lose.” he said.  “We couldn’t have walked out of here unless we won.”

Winning Pointers, back row from left:  Larry Moore, Mike Dolphin, Dick Walden, Doug Lawrence.  Front: Winston Yetta, Don Sadas, reading newspaper account, and coach Hilbert Crosthwaite.

Winning Pointers, back row from left: Larry Moore, Mike Dolphin, Dick Walden, Doug Lawrence. Front: Winston Yetta, Don Sada, reading newspaper account, and coach Hilbert Crosthwaite.

Crosthwaite and forward Winston Yetta didn’t have to walk.  They were paraded around the court after the victory on the shoulders of the other Pointers before a crowd of about 5,200.

As Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union said, paraphrasing Winston Churchill,  who spoke after the British Royal Air Force had defeated the more heavily armed German Luftwaffe in World War II: “Winston (Winnie) Yetta enjoyed his finest basketball hour here tonight, collecting 22 points….”

The 6-foot Yetta was joined in the starting lineup by 6-1 Don Sada, 6-2 Larry Moore, 6-0 Mike Dolphin, and 6-0 Doug Lawrence, or 6-6 1/2 Dick Walden.

Meanwhile, action was slow in the UT-San Diego Top 10 last week.  Francis Parker dropped a 53-52 decision to 21-0 Brentwood Buckley and went from sixth to eighth. Eastlake replaced Poway at 10th.

Hoover, apparently gaining traction, elevated to ninth after victories of 71-65 over Serra and 73-65 over Woodland Hills Taft.

# Team (1st place votes) W-L* Points** Previous*
1 St. Augustine (9) 14-2 121 1
2 Mater Dei Catholic (2) 14-2 118 2
3 La Costa Canyon (1) 15-2 105 3
4 Torrey Pines 13-2 91 4
5 Sweetwater (1) 12-0 67 5
6 El Camino 13-3 60 6T
7 San Marcos 11-4 48 8
8 Francis Parker 14-2 47 6T
9 Hoover 10-7 14 10
10 Eastlake 15-3 9 NR

*Last week.
**Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis
NR–Not ranked.

Others receiving votes: Cathedral, 6; Foothills Christian, Grossmont, 5 each; Mission Hills, 4; Escondido, 3; Steele Canyon, 1.

Thirteen sportswriters, sportscasters and CIF representatives from throughout San Diego County vote in the weekly poll:
John Maffei, Craig Malveaux and Don Norcross (U-T San Diego);
Terry Monahan (U-T San Diego correspondent);
Bill Dickens, Andrew Smith (eastcountysports.com);
Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions);
John Kentera and Jack Cronin (The Mighty 1090);
John Labeta (CIF San Diego Section office); Rick Smith (Partletonsports.com); Bodie DeSilva (sandiegopreps.com); Aaron Burgin (fulltimehoops.tumblr.com).

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6 Responses to 2013-14: Bennie Edens Basketball Classic?

  1. Bob Cluck says:

    Who was bigger, Bennie Edens or Punky Friestrom?

    • Rick says:

      Size-wise it was no contest. Bennie was a burly guy, well over 200 pounds. Kermeen (Punky) Fristrom was much shorter and partially disabled. Bennie is a legend on the Point Loma peninsula. Fristrom does not hold as much sway but he turned out excellent baseball teams in the ‘sixties after succeeeding I believe Murray Callan.

  2. Kevin Bear says:

    The first Bennie Edens Memorial Classic was on January 17, 2009, with four games. This year is the sixth annual edition. At least in the beginning the classic was used to raise funds for the Bennie Edens Scholarship Fund and for whatever reason instead of using one of the football games, Pt. Loma decided to start a basketball showcase. Likely, with only five home games per year, the school may not have wanted to use one of their few home games for that purpose, with Senior Day, Pop Warner day, Parents Day etc. filling up the home schedules of many teams. Plus, football teams sometimes have a difficult time raising funds for their own program so to take one home game away may have been too much. It is strange to have a football coach honored at a basketball showcase but I can see Pt. Loma’s possible reasons.

    • Rick says:

      A very reasonable observation, I’d say. Bennie was a classic all right, if you talk to any of his legion of former players. I wonder what he thinks of all this, from his perch on high.

  3. Roger Conlee says:

    I couldn’t agree more. That tournament should be named for Hil Crosthwaite. Edens never had much to do with basketball.

    • Rick says:

      Kevin Bear’s observation made some sense. I still can’t picture Bennie in a basketball environment. If this was a girls’ event I would have been shocked if they didn’t honor Lee Trepanier, whose teams in the ‘eighties lost one game in four years and arguably featured the greatest of all San Diego Section players, Terri Mann.

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