Basketball Blog

1956-57: A Red Devils Reset

Rick : July 5, 2017 2:12 pm : Basketball

Who would have thought a team that started the season with a 1-8 record and finished 10-10 would be celebrated?

Hats off to the Sweetwater Red Devils!

An eighth loss in nine games was where coach Wells Gorman’s team stood on January 6, 1957, after a 55-50, Metropolitan League opening-game loss at Helix.

But that score against Helix, the reigning and decidedly favored league champion, was a tell.

Sweetwater’s Roger Lively (center) and Bob Jordan contest Mt. Carmel’s Tom Arnerich for ball in Southernb Section playoff battle,.

Sweetwater had  found a different track, shedding the memory of an awful December. They began a run that extended deep into the CIF Southern Section Central Group playoffs.

Coach Wells Gorman, who coached the Class B squad at Coronado before moving across the bay to the National City school this season, directed the sudden and remarkable turnaround.

What followed the loss to Helix was a string of league victories as opponents floundered against the Red Devils’ tight zone defense and patient, pass-oriented offense.

Sweetwater startled favored Chula Vista, 46-31, for its first league win; punished El Cajon Valley, 48-23, suffocated Grossmont, 54-16, and got even with Helix, 51-47, in a game that ended with a near melee between players and fans on the Sweetwater court.

Roger Lively, a 6-foot, 3-inch center who affected an outer-space look with thick, prescription glasses, scored 26 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, as Sweetwater got even with the Highlanders.

Lively was joined in the starting lineup by John Dial, Jack Lensing, Bob Beardsley, and Bob Jordan, a 5-11 sharpshooting guard and blossoming star.

At 4-1 in the circuit and 5-8 overall, the Red Devils stepped out of league play and were briefly interrupted, 45-43, by City League honcho Mission Bay.

The National Citians returned to the league fray with a 56-54 win over Chula Vista on Lively’s hook shot basket with 30 seconds left and followed with a 69-31 dismissal of El Cajon Valley.

Grossmont, closing out a 4-19 season, strategized.

Helix’ Jerry Goins attempts to dribble around Long Beach St. Anthony defenders with Highlanders John Drumm (13) and Gael Barsotti (53) lurking.

The Foothillers decided to played keep away.  They held the ball after the opening jump ball and didn’t attempt a shot for the first four minutes. Guards Mickey Bruce and Larry Dearing played catch along the half-court line.

Sweetwater trailed, 3-0, at the end of the first quarter but had finally nudged ahead, 19-16, in the fourth quarter.  At that point, the ‘Devils went into their own stall and finished a 23-19 victory.

THE RUN CONTINUES

More surprises were in store.

Jordan made 10 of 14 field goal attempts and scored 22 points, the Red Devils rapped in 24 of 45 overall for 53 per cent, and shot the favored host San Diego (16-10) out of the playoffs, 57-47.

Lively got past San Diego defender Edward Lee Johnson for reverse layup and basket.

Next up were the Newport Beach Newport Harbor Tars at neutral Kearny High. Sweetwater won a tense battle, overcoming the visitors with a 15-10 fourth quarter in a 49-45 victory.

Sweetwater won at the free throw line, converting 23 of 27 attempts, with Lively making 10 of 12, and with Dial converting three to give the winners a 47-41 advantage with 2:03 left.

The Red Devils finally were eliminated, 49-41, by tall (one starter 6 feet 7, another 6-4) Los Angeles Mt. Carmel in a quarterfinals game at Point Loma.

The Crusaders (30-1), who reached the finals before losing to El Monte, 55-54, pulled away with a succession of free throws after leading 34-33, at the end of three quarters.

DECEMBER CHAMPIONS

A weekend doubleheader in mid-December seemed to indicate a changing of the guard.

Helix defeated Hoover, 63-46, on Friday night and San Diego, 64-58, on Saturday.

The Highlanders’ parlay, against two City Prep League powers, was usually reserved for Los Angeles-area teams.

Hoover was 25-5 in 1955-56 and returned several players from the squad that finished third in the  playoffs.  San Diego’s eminence extended almost back to the days of peach baskets.

Helix, although occasionally successful against its urban neighbors, had never been so convincing.

With 6-6 Ronnie Mulder, 6-3 Gael Barsotti and vest-pocket guards John Drumm, Jerry Goins, and John Wible, the Highlanders appeared set to make a run.

Under fourth-year coach Bob Divine, the Scots had shown some muscle during a 15-8 season in 1955-56.

Although stunned in a major surprise earlier by Point Loma, 45-43, Helix had a 6-1 record going into the Kiwanis Tournament and was favored to win its second straight Metropolitan League title.

The Highlanders dismissed Point Loma, 52-40, in their opening Kiwanis game and withered defending champion Beverly Hills with 26 consecutive points in a 29-4 fourth quarter that resulted in a 61-37 victory, punctuated by Barsotti’s 25 points.

CARDINALS ANSWER 

Hoover, taking charge with success on 58 per cent of 24 shots in the last two quarters, broke from a 23-23 halftime deadlock to oust Helix, 57-45 in the Kiwanis semifinals.

The Highlanders gained a share of the Metropolitan League championship with Sweetwater and met Hoover again in the playoffs after a 55-50 victory over Long Beach St. Anthony.

The Cardinals were superior again, topping their La Mesa rivals, 51-44, and closing out the Highlanders, who completed a 22-6 season, best in school history, but were an early playoff casualty for the second consecutive season.

Seven-foot Engesser, flanked by shorter teammates Bob Delgado (left) and Dave Haynes, was thorn in Hoover’s side.

Hoover (22-4) was knocked out in the next round by 24-4 El Monte, 57-54.

Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union described El Monte’s 7-foot Bill Engesser as a player “who seemed to move with great gnashing and clanking of gears.”

Engesser did not have to move much.  He took high lobs from his shorter teammates and dropped in 25 points, off-setting 19 in the second half by Hoover’s Wayne Adams, the City Prep League’s player of the year.

KIWANIS

The 10th annual event featured 32 teams, 8 playing floors, 28 assigned game officials, and 46 total games.  All City, Avocado, and Metropolitan league squads were joined by three teams from the Southern Prep League, and St. Augustine.

At the same time, host Sweetwater’s annual Class B tournament began, with teams from Chula Vista, El Cajon Valley, Grossmont, Helix, Coronado. Mar Vista, and St. Augustine.

ALL-SAN DIEGO FINAL

When four area teams, Hoover, Lincoln, Mission Bay, and Helix, reached the Kiwanis Unlimited Division round of four an all-San Diego final was assured for the first time since 1953, when San Diego defeated Hoover, 54-44.

The 22-4 Hoover Cardinals’ starting lineup, from left: coach Charlie Hampton, Wayne Adams, Norris Greenwood, Steve Evans, Tommy Dobyns, Walt Baranski.

Hoover was in the finals again but lost for the fourth time.

Upstart Mission Bay, bolstered by the transfer from La Jolla of starters Jim Anderson and Doug Crockett, and the arrival of 6-7 ½ Dave Hinds from Leadville, Colorado, nipped the Cardinals, 43-42.

Mission Bay added transfer Dave Hinds, at 6-7 1/2 the tallest player in City Prep League.

Crockett dribbled half the court after a stolen Hoover pass by Jerry Dinsmore to score the winning basket on a layup with 2 seconds remaining.

The Buccaneers also got past Hoover, 42-40, with a basket in the final eight seconds in the league opener and were 18-7 in their third varsity season but finished third in the CPL with a 7-5 record, including a late-season 50-39 loss to the Cardinals.

The sentries apparently didn’t get the memo.

The old guard maintained, as Hoover and San Diego, with a predominantly underclass starting five led by Artist Gilbert and Edward Lee Johnson, finished 1-2.

THE SHOOTER

Shaules’s shooting style was effective.

Tom Shaules, a 5-foot, 8-inch, 123-pound junior guard, burst on the scene, scoring 22 points in his first game, a 44-37 win over Lincoln, and followed with 36 a week later in a 53-45 triumph over Escondido.

Shaules accelerated the trend to more offense by setting a one-season County record of 587 points.  He averaged 25.5 points and improved on the unofficial record of 474, set by the Saints’ John Cunningham in 1954-55.

Shaules averaged 33.5 with 201 points in his final six games. His 49 points in a 87-55 win over Brown Military broke the County record of 47, set by Fallbrook’s Paul Lockridge in 1951 during a 90-31 romp over Brown.

Shaules did not load up on the poor.  He also had six other games over 30, including 36 in an 86-72 defeat of Helix that reversed an earlier, 82-58 loss to the Scots.

Still campaigning as an independent, the Saints posted a 13-10 record against varied competition, a decided improvement over the 7-17 of the post-Cunningham squad in 1955-56.

St. Augustine would gain entry to the City Prep League in 1957-58 and Shaules would set additional records with his unorthodox delivery, a jump shot that featured a backward spin on the ball.

OUTSIDER PREVAILS

Sherman Burroughs High of Ridgecrest, adjacent the China Lake Naval Air Station, made the 224-mile trip to San Diego and the Kiwanis Tournament a rousing success.

The Burros defeated Mar Vista, 47-29, for the Limited Division championship and interrupted an Avocado League dominance of four championships in the previous five years.

REDEMPTION

Lincoln guard Bob Byrd, who missed two free throws with six seconds to play in regulation time, sent San Diego to the sideline in the Kiwanis quarterfinals when he drained a 15-foot jump shot with five seconds remaining in overtime for a 51-50 victory.

AFTER THE HOLIDAY

Chula Vista (12-12)  reached finals of the post-Christmas Chino tournament before bowing to Azusa Citrus and high scoring Billy Kilmer, 54-48.  Kilmer scored 17 points after 43 in an opening-round, 78-35 win over Grossmont, and 28 and 22 in the next two games.

Corona, after eliminating Mar Vista (14-15) in the semifinals, defeated Escondido (12-13), 59-44, for the consolation championship.

Helix lost to 12-0 Oxnard, 66-64, after defeating Ventura, 70-60, in the Fillmore Tournament.  The Highlanders finished third in the eight-team event, overcoming a 16-point, third quarter deficit to top Burbank Burroughs, 70-69.

ICE                                                                                                                                       

Mission Bay’s zone defense never was more effective than against Lincoln (12-12).  The Hornets made one of their first 32 field goal attempts and shot 15 per cent overall, 10 for 63, in a 38-24 loss to the Buccaneers.

SIGNS OF THE TIME

Fifteen players got into the game and 14 scored as Helix set a Metropolitan League scoring record in a 97-50 win over El Cajon Valley.

Oceanside emerged with an Avocado League record after an 83-48 victory over San Dieguito.

St. Augustine was a 66-32 winner at Brown Military although Tom Shaules was held to a season low 11 points.

Gael Barsotti, with Helix coach Bob Divine, added 30 points in playoffs to his season and career total.

Julian, Ramona, and Army-Navy tied for first in the Southern Prep League but Army-Navy was odd man out in coin flips to determine which teams went to the playoffs. Julian and Ramona advanced.

Oceanside (14-7) was one and done in the Southern Group playoffs after a quarterfinals, 71-57 loss to San Jacinto, which had beaten Ramona, 49-36, in the first round.  Tustin eliminated Julian, 62-45.

Rancho del Campo finished with three players on the court after 4 of the seven-man roster fouled out in a 55-32 loss to Brown Military.

There were 17 lead changes, four in the game’s final minute, before Hoover’s Wayne Adams, laboring with 4 fouls since midway of the second quarter, converted two free throws in the last five seconds to give Hoover a 51-50 win over Lincoln.

Cheerleader Beverly Svalstad urges Helix to play defense and score points in 63-59 win over Point Loma.

JUMP SHOTS

Julian’s Quinten Fernald led all Kiwanis scorers with 88 points in four games, the final a 45-35 loss to Hemet in the Limited Division consolation windup…also starting for Julian was Quint’s brother, Denny…Helix coach  Bob Divine missed several games in December after  contacting pneumonia…assistant coach Dave LeFever directed the early victory over Hoover…Hoover made 17 successive free throws and defeated Glendale, 47-36, and host San Diego nipped Glendale Hoover, 43-42, in a December twinbill at San Diego…switching sites, host Hoover beat Glendale Hoover, 54-25, and Glendale topped San Diego, 52-46…Lincoln was a loser, 46-33 and 53-31, in Long Beach against Wilson and Millikan…first-year Escondido coach Gene Taylor was 107-23 in the previous five years at Clifton, Arizona, 12-13 in his only season here…Chick Embrey replaced Walter West as head coach of Escondido football after West moved to Oceanside as basketball coach…Kiwanis director Darrell (Snuffy) Smith  reported that at least 60 per cent of the 400 participating players were 6 feet or taller…Mission Bay coaches Kenny Hale and Chuck Coover produced a Buccaneers “press brochure”….

Bob Byrd (left), whose basket defeated San Diego in Kiwanis tournament, is flanked by teammates Leonard Burnett, Albert (Angel) Vinson, Luther Hayes, and Bill Beatty. Not pictured is Hornets’ redoubtable forward Bob Moss.

He was better known for outstanding coaching success in football at Sweetwater and Orange Glen, but David Lay, defending against Kearny’s Glenn Smith, also played basketball at Grossmont.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments »

1955-56: Islanders Square Account

Rick : June 22, 2017 5:06 pm : Basketball

Coronado paid off an old debt.

Hoover’s playoff advance was halted at the foul line.

Merrill Douglas ended a great run at San Diego High.

Lincoln showed that patience pays off.

–John Kovac was a football coach who happened to come along at the right basketball time at Coronado.

The dour Kovac without prompting often recalled that he coached future professional stars Lenny Moore and Roosevelt Grier when Kovac guided the Penn State freshman team.

Relocating to San Diego’s trans-bay community in the early ‘fifties, Kovac still saw football in his future but found himself directing the Islanders’ basketball program, with stunning success.

Kovac’s teams posted a three-season, 63-13 record with players who weren’t very tall but had roadrunner speed and hounded opponents with swarming defense.

Despite starters Charlie Love, Willie Dickey, and Roger Nix returning from the 21-4 squad in ’54-55, Kovac’s preseason appraisal was loaded with typical coach speak:

“We will be very short and not nearly as fast or sharp as last year.  We hope we’re not in for a long year.”

Coronado raced through the Metropolitan League schedule, finishing 12-0 and winning by an average score of 65-40.  They were 27-1 overall, losing only to Hoover, 49-45, in an early December game.

Love, Dickey, Nix, Jon Crawford, Steve Solier, and Dennis (Swede) Grimaud, none taller than Nix’s 6-feet, 1 inch, were the principals as the Islanders won their last 25 and the CIF Southern Section Southern Group (small schools) championship.

As one of the top seeds, the Islanders had a first-round bye in the playoffs, and then blew out Tustin, 75-55, with a 28-13 fourth quarter on the neutral Sweetwater floor.

Islanders and Kovac reached heights.

They sweated out  a 55-50, semifinals victory over San Jacinto, after having  built a 34-19 halftime lead at neutral Hemet High and then seeing top scorer Roger Nix foul out midway through the second half.

(“Neutral” courts, as mandated by the CIF, meant that host teams usually played at venues close to home.  Hemet was less than three-and-a-half miles from the Tigers’ facility.)

Nix and his teammates then surprised and silenced most of the 2,300 persons in attendance at Azusa College with a 60-54, championship game victory over Citrus and high scoring Billy Kilmer.

Winning on the road was the sweetener.  Citrus had beaten Coronado, 63-58, in the finals the year before as the visiting team at Point Loma High.

Kovac left Coronado and moved to Hoover as an assistant football coach in 1956.

Two years later the transplanted Pennsylvanian joined the staff at San Diego Junior College and became the Knights’ head coach in 1961.  Kovac started the new Mesa College program and posted a 30-14-2 record from 1964-68.

–Hoover won the postseason Beverly Hills Tournament title in 1944-45 when there were no CIF playoffs because of World War II.  The East San Diego squad had not gotten this far before or since.

Three days prior to their win over Coronado, the Cardinals came from behind in the fourth quarter for a  41-39 win at Long Beach Poly, giving them victories over two of the three eventual Southern Section champions in less than a week.

Poly won the Central Group (large) playoff championship, defeating Montebello, 74-63, after the Oilers had beaten Hoover, 69-57, in the semifinals.

Hoover was 11-1 in the City Prep League and opened the postseason with a 63-52 win at Point Loma over Newport Beach Newport Harbor, which had knocked out Helix, 66-60, in the first round.

Hampton (lower right) in fourth season as coach, had 25-game winners with this group.

Next was a quarterfinals test at Manhattan Beach Mira Costa against nearby Redondo Beach Redondo.

Hoover led, 54-47, with 2:45 remaining.  Redondo went into a press.  Rex Hughes scored with 46 seconds left to forge a tie at 54.

The Seahawks stole a pass as Hoover attempted to get the ball down court after Hughes’ basket.  Traveling was called on Redondo.  Hoover inbounded again and Bill Landry saved the San Diegans with a 25-foot set shot with 15 seconds remaining for a 56-54 win.

The Cardinals were eliminated in the semifinals before an overflow crowd at Long Beach City College by Montebello and jump-shooting Jerry Pimm, whose lovely floaters and 28 points kept the Cardinals at a distance and in foul trouble.

Pimm found the range firing behind screens as Hoover’s man-to-man defenders, trying to keep up with Pimm, constantly bumped into one of Pimm’s teammates, usually center Bill Doner.

The Cardinals outscored the Oilers, 46-40, from the field, but the winners, had an 18-point advantage at the free throw line, converting 29 of 39 attempts, 10 by Pimm, and 13 by Doner.  Hoover was 11 of 23.

Larry Elliot, Hoover’s all-City forward and second-team all-Southern California selection, scored 22 points, 14 in the second half, but Elliot fouled out, as did guards Bill Landry and Walt Baranski.

Landry actually held Pimm scoreless for the game’s first seven minutes, but acquired four personals during that time.

Hoover defeated Glendale Hoover, 57-53, the following evening for third place and a final, 25-5 record.

–Lincoln, 2-18 and 6-16 with virtually the same squad in its first two seasons, reaped the fruits of their sometimes painful development, which originated with games on the Hornets’ outdoor, asphalt court and in Municipal Gym.

Coach Don Smith’s club, with City League player of the year and three-year starter Bob Mendoza leading the way, were 10-2 in the league and 20-4 overall.

A 62-46 loss to Hoover in the first round of play was erased with a 56-43 victory before a packed house in Lincoln’s new gymnasium in the second round of CPL play.

The Hornets’ foray into the playoffs started with a 62-54 win over Grossmont.

The postseason ended quickly and with finality in a 71-52 loss to Long Beach Poly, led by the  Southern California player of the year, 6-foot, 7-inch Jim Hannah.

Two busloads of Lincoln students arrived at Long Beach Jordan at halftime of the second-round contest.  Poly led, 36-23.

The seemingly awestruck Hornets were outnumbered everywhere. Poly had more cheerleaders than Lincoln had players and the Jackrabbits’ bench was a long, green and gold line.

“We were like a bunch of elementary school kids (in that environment),” said Hornets guard Brad Griffith.

–Merrill Douglas, who succeeded Bill Schutte as head coach in 1940, stepped down at San Diego High and moved across Russ Boulevard to San Diego Junior College.

Douglas, who missed three seasons serving in the military in World War II guided teams that averaged 19 wins and posted a 223-86 (.722) record in 12 seasons.

The San Diego JC Knights won the Metropolitan Conference championship in Douglas’ first season.  He also served as the school’s athletics director and took the same position when Mesa College opened in 1964.

Olympians teams and high schools eventually would play football and compete in track and field and soccer in the Merrill Douglas Stadium on campus.

–Lincoln, 2-18 and 6-16 with virtually the same squad in its first two seasons, reaped the fruits of its sometimes painful development, which originated  in 1953 when the school had no senior class and games sometimes were played  on the Hornets’ outdoor court and in Municipal Gym.

Coach Don Smith’s club, with City League player of the year and three-year starter Bob Mendoza leading the way, were 10-2 in the league and 20-4 overall.

A 62-46 loss to Hoover in the first round of play was erased with a 56-43 victory before a packed house in Lincoln’s new gymnasium in the second round of CPL play.

David Washington, rebounding against Chula Vista, and Bob Mendoza (37) were veterans enjoying success at Lincoln.

The Hornets’ foray into the playoffs started with a 62-54 win over Grossmont.

The postseason ended quickly and with finality in a 71-52 loss to Long Beach Poly, led by the  Southern California player of the year, 6-foot, 7-inch Jim Hannah.

Two busloads of Lincoln students arrived at Long Beach Jordan at halftime of the second-round contest.  Poly led, 36-23.

The seemingly awestruck Hornets were outnumbered everywhere. Poly had more cheerleaders than Lincoln had players and the Jackrabbits’ bench was a long, green and gold line.

“We looked like a bunch of elementary school kids (in that environment),” said Hornets guard Brad Griffith.

DAVEY, DAVEY…?

No, not Davey Crockett, but La Jolla had a couple sharpshooters by the same name. Clyde Crockett led City Prep League scores with 209 points in 12 games, a 17.4 average. Crockett’s younger brother, Doug, had 94 points and a 7.8 average.

Mission Bay’s Leroy Brandt (15.2) was runner-up to Clyde in league scoring, followed by Jim Gilchrist (14.0) of San Diego, Lincoln’s Bob Mendoza (13.6),  Willie West (13.2) of San Diego, Bill Landry (11.7) and Larry Elliot (11.3) of Hoover, and Brad Griffith (10.8) of Lincoln.

Helix’ Gael Barsotti led Metropolitan League scorers with an 18.4 average in eight games. Chula Vista’s Bill Collins (15.8), Helix’ Ronnie Mulder (15.4), and Grossnont’s Lowell Raper  (12.5)  followed.

Doug (left) and Clyde Crockett carried La Jolla banner.

Prep writers of the day did not list scoring beyond league play and Avocado and Southern League scorers, such as Coronado’s Roger Nix and others, were not listed at all.

NORMANS DEFEND

Beverly Hills defeated Hoover, 45-42, for its second consecutive Kiwanis Tournament Unlimited Division title.

San Diego, waiting on several players still playing football, surprised Inglewood Morningside, 51-46, in the first round. Months later Morningside scored a 64-62 win over Beverly Hills for the CIF Northern Group (small) playoff title.

Mar Vista’s Larry Boyd, who earned all-Southern California second-team honors in 1954-55, scored 99 points in four games to break the tournament scoring record of 96 set the year before by Morningside’s John Arrillaga.

Boyd scored 25, but the Mariners couldn’t overcome the 19 each by Jon Crawford and Willie Dickey, who led Coronado to a 53-49 triumph in the Limited final.

ABOVE THE TREE LINE

Helix reportedly had 14 players on varsity and JV, standing at least 6-3.  The varsity measured 6-6 Bill Turpin, 6-5 Ronnie Mulder, and 6-5 Mel Robinson.

Tallest Metro Leaguer was Grossmont’s Lee Carick, a 6-9 reserve center.

Andy Dunn, a reserve forward at Point Loma, and Lincoln backup center Bill Beatty stood highest in the City League, each at 6-5.

JUMP SHOTS

Grossmont won a coin flip with Helix to determine playoff pairings after the teams tied for the Metropolitan League title…Lincoln topped the Foothillers at Hoover behind 20 points by Bob Mendoza and 14 by Brad Griffith…Helix led Newport Harbor, 17-12, after one quarter at Garden Grove High, but Ronnie Mulder was sidelined for long periods with 4 fouls…Lincoln’s first victory over San Diego in football or basketball was a 55-53 thriller in which the Hornets overcame a six-point San Diego lead in the fourth quarter…Mendoza’s two free throws, after a layup by Griffith, put Lincoln in front, 54-51, in the final minute…San Diego coach Merrill Douglas surprised Lincoln in the league opener with a zone defense that stymied the Hornets, 35-30…late-arriving football stars Willie West (guard) and Deron Johnson (center) were starters for the Cavemen…Escondido made 29 of 44 free throw attempts in a 65-59 win over Vista…the Cougars and Panthers committed 46 fouls in the 32-minute game …Coronado set an Avocado League points record in an 81-55 victory over Escondido…Helix posted the highest total in the Metropolitan League in a 79-50 conquest of Sweetwater…Coronado’s starters played all but two minutes in a 71-32 rout of Escondido…La Jolla’s George Graham set a City League Class B record with 33 points in a 68-46 win over Kearny…San Diego’s sophomore team, paced by Edward Lee Johnson’s 17.2 average, was 20-0…Vista played in the post-Christmas Banning tournament and Helix was in the Fillmore event…Chula Vista topped Bell Gardens, 50-46, for the consolation title at Chino…

2 Comments »

1952-53: Gehring Leads Way to Hoop

Rick : June 1, 2017 3:29 pm : Basketball

Football, basketball, baseball, and track and field, the majors, remained seasonal sports for the best athletes, who usually participated in at least three.

Single-sport concentration and club teams were a half-century away, but a change was taking place in high school hoops this season.

There were many more games in which the competing teams scored at least 100 points.  Winning totals in the fifties and sixties were becoming common.

Sixty or more points were scored by the winning team in 19 games, compared to 4 in 1951-52.

Those 60-plus outbursts the season before had involved losing teams from tiny or barren programs: Brown Military (2), San Diego Vocational, and Julian.

City Prep League and Metropolitan League squads showed the way and Rich Gehring and the Escondido Cougars were in the vanguard.

The Cougars mounted a late-season run to tie Chula Vista and then defeated the Spartans, 53-51, in a Metro title-deciding playoff for their first league crown since 1938-39.

Coached by Jim Ahler, who had success at Hoover after World War II, Escondido started slowly, 2-5 in mid-December, but warmed following the Kiwanis Tournament and Christmas Holidays.

Chula Vista, the usual Metro League boss and annual Southern California small schools contender, was 6-0 until Gehring scored 23 points and teammate Don Portis 20 as the visiting Cougars defeated the Spartans, 62-50, and reversed a 42-38 loss in the league opener.

Gehring, with hands on knees, next to Ahler, led Cougars’ late-season run .

Escondido won its last seven league games and caught Chula Vista in the standings, both finishing at 11-3, as Gehring averaged 22.1 points.

Gehring’s 25 led a fourth-quarter, come-from-behind,  triumph over Chula Vista before more than 1,000 persons at San  Diego State three days after the regular season ended,

Escondido trailed by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter before Gehring’s basket and two free throws iced the victory after the Spartans tried to freeze a lead in the final two minutes.

Gehring, who averaged 22.8 points in his final 10 contests,  followed with 28 points in a 53-47, CIF small schools’ playoff victory over Calipatria and 20 points in a semifinals, 54-45 loss to Hemet.

The burly, 6-foot, 5-inch center also played end in  football and was the Metro League’s hurdles champion in the spring.

MORE POINTS

Gehring set a school record with 35 points in a 74-44 win over San Dieguito and averaged 18.4 with 258 points in 14 league games.

The outburst against the Mustangs was the difference in a points battle with Vista’s Ed Myers, who averaged 17.2 with 241 points in circuit play.

Gehring, who led the County with 440 points (17.1) for the 16-9 Cougars,  was almost matched in the CPL by Point Loma’s sharpshooting Ronnie Robertson, who scored 377 points in 22 games (17.1) and led the Pointers to the major CIF playoffs.

Robertson was force for Point Loma.

Helix’ Jerry Hurst nudged Robertson for the CPL scoring championship, scoring 221 points in 12 games and averaging 18.4 to Robertson’s 214 (17.8).

San Diego’s Willie Pitts averaged 15.6 points and was third in league play, topped by a 34-point effort (16 field goals, 2 free throws) when the Cavers set a school single-game scoring record in an 80-40 win at Grossmont.

Not to be outdone, Hoover got into the scoring trend, defeating Grossmont, 72-45.

Grossmont also was easy pickings for Robertson, who had 34 points in a 55-38 victory.

Chula Vista’s Lavon Baker (15.0) scored 210 points in league play and was third behind Gehring and Myers.  Oceanside’s Dick Whaley (14.3) had 200.

KIWANIS, TOO

Beverly Hills defeated Grossmont, 74-51, setting a Kiwanis Tournament record of 125 points. Two teams had scored 109 points each in 1949.

Beverly Hills forward Dick Eiler, who moved south after attending the University of Utah and became head coach at Clairemont in 1960-61, set a single game record of 30.

Eiler’s four-game total of 85 bettered the mark of 72 by Kearny’s David Miramontes in 1950.

San Diego stunned Santa Monica with a 28-point third quarter in a 57-49 victory. Samohi outscored the Cavemen, 37-29, in the three other eight-minute periods

VIKINGS SAIL

Pitts provided offense for Cavemen.

For the first time the tournament featured an all-San Diego final.

Paul Darrock’s 21 points, aided by 10 each from Dale Luther and Bob Hetzler, led the La Jolla to an overtime, 54-49 victory over San Diego on the Cavers’ floor. Tom Cofield had 20 and Ellsworth Powell 12 for San Diego.

A starting forward for La Jolla was Bob (Bones) Gutowski, who set a world track and field record of 15 feet, 8 inches, in the pole vault in 1957 while competing for Occidental College in Eagle Rock.

VISITORS RELAX

The 24-team tournament began on Thursday and did not end until Monday.

With Sunday off, Beverly Hills and others had a chance to visit San Diego tourist attractions.  Living at the Marine Corps Recruit Base allowed the visitors to get by on expenses.  Beds and meals were free.

STRANGER THAN FICTION

San Diego dropped a December game to Long Beach Poly, 47-39, although Poly, the home team, had 25 personal fouls to 11 for the Cavers, who outscored the Jackrabbits, 23-9, at the free-throw line but were outscored from the field, 38-16.

ANOTHER TIE

Chula Vista and Escondido resolved their Metro League title deadlock with a playoff, because only one team would be invited to the eight team smalls schools postseason.

CIF small schools playoffs were divided into two, eight-team groups, Northern and Southern.

San Diego and Point Loma each finished with 9-3 CPL records and both qualified for the large, Central Group 24-team tournament.

CPL president Lawrence Carr of San Diego High  conducted a telephonic vote after the final Friday night games and league bosses gave the No. 1 nod to Point Loma, which twice defeated San  Diego.

The Pointers were byed into the 16-team second round against Colton, which had eliminated Point Loma, 44-36, in 1951-52.

The Pointers (17-9) dropped a 48-39 decision to the Yellowjackets at the same venue, San Bernardino Junior College, as the previous season and by an almost identical score difference.

San Diego (17-7) went out in the first round, beaten at Anaheim, 50-39.

SIGN OF THE TIME

Dick Bogenrife of Midway, Ohio, scored 120 points in a 137-47 victory over Canaan.  Midway coach Dick Strasburg said he “had planned for several games to turn him loose.”

Perhaps coincidentally, Bogenrife’s onslaught came three days after Mel (Fatty) Frye of Clarington set a state record with 80 points.

JUMP SHOTS

San Diego High’s single-game scoring record had stood since 1935-36, when the Cavers won a playoff game against Huntington Beach by the then-amazing score of 73-45…Ramona’s Bruce Furman, all of 5 feet, 1 inch, was a favorite of Kiwanis spectators…Mar Vista’s Glenn (junior) and Al Maisey (senior) were the only brothers in the CIF Southern Section to start every game…Hoover’s 11-12 record under first-year coach Charlie Hamption, was its poorest since before World War II…Kearny was 7-5 and third in the CPL and its 16-7 record was best in school history….

Leave a response »

1951-52: Six of Significance

Rick : May 13, 2017 12:42 pm : Basketball

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….

2 Comments »

2017: George (Bud) Milke, Legendary South Bay Coach

Rick : May 4, 2017 4:26 pm : Basketball

Bud Milke was on the bench as a head coach for 500-plus basketball games in his career, more than half at Mar Vista High and Castle Park, and rolled with the deathless prose of Grantland Rice:

“For when the One Great Scorer comes To write against your name, He marks—not that you won or lost—but how you played the game.”

Milke, who passed recently at near 90, was a standout in football and basketball at San Diego State and embarked on a five-decade run as coach at two South Bay high schools and as a coach and administrator at Southwestern College.

Milke retired in 1992 after holding numerous positions at Southwestern, including nine seasons as basketball coach, beginning in 1964-65.

His first coaching position was in 1953-54 at Mar Vista, where Milke’s teams, seldom with a player taller than his 6 feet, 4 inches,  were 148-118 in 10 seasons, including five in which the  Mariners finished second or higher in the Metropolitan League.

Milke moved to Castle Park High in 1963-64, stunning Metro League observers when the first-year Trojans posted a 23-7 record and won the league championship.

Milke’s son, George, Jr., a longtime figure in South Bay education circles, was a baseball star at Mater Dei, pitched at USC, and was named the outstanding player of the 1974 College World Series.

2 Comments »

1950-51: Wanted: Triple-A Road Maps

Rick : April 24, 2017 5:13 pm : Basketball

The twists and turns of the season weren’t so much about the drama of last-minute shots and frenetic finishes but of quirky schedules, odd venues, and some World War II-like travel.

Coronado and Chula Vista met in the Metropolitan League’s most important game…at Point Loma!

It was Chula Vista’s home game, but the Spartans did not have a gymnasium.

There were no high school gyms in the South Bay area.  The same could be said for the city.

Most venues had basketball courts, but you could count those with adequate seating on one hand,  San Diego High, Point Loma, Grossmont, and Hoover.

WHERE AM I?

Chula Vista’s “home” court could have been Hoover.  That’s where the Spartans played Escondido, Oceanside, and Sweetwater in league clashes…but it met San Dieguito in the Southern Section playoffs at San Diego.

Chula Vista and Sweetwater played another league game…at San Diego State.

Point Loma lost a “road” game to Chula Vista, in the Pointers’ gym

“Home” was either 10 (Hoover), 8 (San Diego), or 14 (Point Loma) miles from the Spartans’ campus in west Chula Vista.

Hoover was early favorite for CPL title with starters Bob Gregovich, Bob Metzler, Roger Estey, Ray Woodmansee, and Jerry Woods (from left).

Playing at Hoover was, for the Northern schools, almost a throwback to a decade before when there was wartime gasoline rationing to keep automobiles off the road and to conserve rubber.

By traveling to the Cardinals’ East San Diego campus, Escondido shaved 22 miles off what would have been 74 miles both ways to Chula Vista.

Oceanside would have had to travel 92 miles roundtrip but instead hiked 72.

Sweetwater played Mar Vista and Mar Vista played Oceanside, both games in Balboa Park’s Municipal Gym.

Mar Vista’s game in Oceanside would have been 100 miles up and back.  The mileage would have been similar for Sweetwater.

It didn’t generate a “Hoosiers” atmosphere, but the cavernous, multi-court emporium in Balboa Park was convenient.

Within a couple years, there would be new arenas at La Jolla and Sweetwater, easing but not solving the problem. More high schools were on the way.  Helix opened later this year and Lincoln, Mission Bay, and El Cajon Valley were coming soon.

Ranglos’ hook shot spelled trouble for Vikings’ opponents.

The problem wouldn’t be solved until the mid-’sixties, when almost all schools had their own layouts.

For now, Sweetwater and several others were forced to conduct their practice maneuvers under sunny or cloudy skies or not practice at all when winter rains set in.

NEW SHERIFF

Ivan Robinson’s County-record, 38-point outburst against Kearny in the final game of the 1943-44 season had withstood some assaults in the ensuing years.

Hoover’s Dick Barnes scored 36 in one game in 1944-45.  San Diego’s Ben Cendali had 37 in 1947-48.

But Robinson’s mark finally fell this season when Fallbrook center Paul Lockridge knocked down 21 baskets and 5 free throws for 47 points in a 90-31 win over Brown Military.

The feat had the aura of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”.

Coronado’s Mark Davis led Metro League in scoring.

Lockridge’s twin, point guard Frank, backed up his brother with 20 points and dished several assists.

TRAVEL WEARY

Grossmont and Hoover competed their regular seasons with big wins on the final night of league play.

Coach Ralph Chaplin’s Foothillers clinched second place in the City Prep League with a 46-45 win over La Jolla and Hoover knocked off San Diego, 44-36, in a display befitting the Cardinals’ preseason favoritism.

(The Cardinals were 11-3 in December and averaging 44 points a game, but they were surprised by Grossmont, 48-34, in the CPL opener and flattened out to 6-5, finishing in a tie for third in the league, and 17-8 overall).

The teams pulled a three-hour trip the next day to play in the Beverly Hills Tournament.

Probably spent from the night before, Grossmont bowed to Los Angeles Loyola, 41-36, and Hoover, which led, 43-30, after three quarters, fell to Santa Monica, 48-47.

TRAVEL WEARY, CONT.

San Diego and Grossmont began play in the Southern Section playoffs almost two weeks later.

The CIF apparently “optioned” a doubleheader at Point Loma to the San Diego City Schools Association, which sponsored the contests.

Newport Beach Newport Harbor and Anaheim tied for first place in the Sunset League, necessitating a coin flip to determine opponents.

Grossmont defeated Anaheim, 34-31, in the first game and San Diego eliminated Newport Harbor, 46-34, in the nightcap.

Instead of being competitively idle four days, until the following Tuesday, the Hillers and Foothillers were required to travel to Redondo Beach the next evening for the quarterfinals round.

Compton sent Grossmont (17-6) to the sideline, 48-37, and South Pasadena topped San Diego (18-6), 46-39.

Chula Vista (15-8), the defending small schools champion, fought back after trailing, 27-18, at the end of the third quarter but was beaten in the semifinals on a late free throw, 34-33, by Bonita at Pomona.

POWELL IS BACK

A football injury sustained on Nov. 10 had dealt a crushing blow to San Diego’s Southern Section playoff hopes and sidelined Charlie Powell for the first 11 games of the basketball season.

Breitbard Athletic Foundation saluted Hoover’s Ray Woodmansee (left) and Sam Smith from champion Inglewood.

The Hillers were 7-4 in the absence of Powell and his 230-pound presence at center but were 11-2 after he returned for the opening of league play Jan. 11.

The big center scored 12 points in a playoff victory over  Newport Harbor and had 19 in his final game, a postseason, 55-42 win over Hoover in the Zane Fentress charity game that attracted a sellout crowd of 1,000 persons in the Hilltop Gym.

FRIGHTENING INJURY

Fentress, a 190-pound wrestler for Hoover, was competing in a Southern Section playoff wrestling match against San Diego’s Tom Loman, who weighed more than 250.

Fentress sustained a severe injury and was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.

Mickelson was blossoming star at Grossmont.

CIF wrestling rules eventually had a weight limit for the heavyweight division and  a super heavyweight class was added.

HELP AGAIN FOR ZANE

Another benefit for Fentress was held a week later, with a unique format.

Hoover and Grossmont met in a game that featured only players returning for the 1951-52 season.

Hoover returnees won, 47-29.  The Hoover Alumni defeated the San Diego Alumni, 62-40, in a companion skirmish.

Names to remember:  Hoover’s Bob Metzler, who scored 16 points, and Grossmont’s Noel Mickelson, who had 15.

KIWANIS TO SENTINELS

Inglewood won the 16-team, third annual San Diego Kiwanis tournament, 50-45 over Hoover.  San Diego was consolation champion, 45-38, over Grossmont.

Kearny’s David Miramontes scored 72 points in four games to break Bill McColl’s record of 69 in 1947 that was tied by Grossmont’s Phil Embletlon in 1949.

San Diego High and the Downtown Kiwanis sponsored the event.  Individual teams were supported by their local Kiwanis clubs.

Visiting squads, including El Monte, Inglewood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica, were housed in barracks at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

HONORS

San Diego’s Percy Gilbert was an all-Southern California first-team selection and La Jolla’s Jim Ranglos made the second team.

Ranglos led CPL scorers with a 15.3 average in 10 league games and Gilbert and Grossmont’s Ray Preston tied for second at 12.2. Mark Davis or Coronado (138) topped

Percy Gilbert was all-Southern California.

Kenny Iles of Escondido (128) in the 10-game Metro scoring race.

SIGN OF THE TIME

The Muni facility did not just host prep games.

The San Diego Park and Recreation Department announced pairings for its 31-team preseason tournament, which promised to keep the building busy.

Former Hoover star Dick Barnes, who passed up the NBA after being drafted in the fifth round by the New York Knicks, was playing for Al Riley Concrete.

Among other entries were Buono Bail Bonds, Clementine McDuff, Crown Carpet, and Mutual Fire.

SET SHOTS

The City Prep League was 19-1 against the Metropolitan League from the opening game in late November until league play after the New Year…Metro League clubs were 9-27 against all opposition overall in the same span…San Diego set a Compton Invitational single-game point total in a 66-48 win over Norwalk Excelsior but bowed the next day to Los Angeles Cathedral, 41-30…El Centro Central was one point short of a Kiwanis point record in a 74-32 win over San Diego Vocational…Ron Maley, younger brother of San Diego football boss Duane Maley, was coach at Kearny…San Diego played host to Hoover in the CPL finale with a reversed format… the varsity game tipped at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Class B contest, won by San Diego, 39-27…the Caver B’s 9-1 league record equaled that of the varsity…Hoover bowed to Ventura, 67-55, in the Santa Monica B Tournament, while San Diego was eliminated by L.A. Mt. Carmel, 30-27, after defeating Long Beach Poly, 36-28….

 

2 Comments »

1954-55: The Saints Get Some Glory

Rick : April 11, 2017 7:11 pm : Basketball

St. Augustine felt better about itself, assuaging some of the long-standing frustration from thwarted attempts to secure a league affiliation.

The small, independent Catholic entity that opened its doors in 1922 enjoyed an in-your-face season and earned the first playoff berth in school history.

The hard way.

With community honchos in support and shrewd politicking by principal John Aherne, the Saints eventually would gain membership in the City Prep League, but as freelancers they faced more daunting challenges than the snooty public schools that continued to deny them.

Teams in leagues would be eligible for the playoffs as long as they finished first or second in the standings.

The Saints, with no league and little margin for error, were given a finite number by the CIF:  Lose no more than six games and get to play in the extended season.

Coach John Finan’s squad came through with a 17-6 regular-season record, but there were some nervous moments along the way.  A 53-38 loss in January to the San Diego State freshmen could have torpedoed its chances..

Although no official announcement was reported in San Diego newspapers, the CIF apparently didn’t consider the loss to the Frosh an official game, since it was not against a high school team.

Cunningham, guarded by Grossmont’s Lowell Raper, led Saints and area shooters in scoring.

Finan’s freelancers also helped themselves with a 6-1 finish.

John Cunningham, a 6-foot, 4-inch, center who went to play for the University of San Francisco and become baseball coach at the University of San Diego, averaged 19 points a game, led the County with 474 points, and was the main man of the 18-7 season.

CARDINALS FAVORED

St. Augustine was a substantial underdog to Hoover, one of the City League big shots aligned against the Saints, in the opening playoff test, having lost to the Cardinals, 48-34 and 61-43, during the season.

Cunningham and teammates Charlie Smith and Hector Sanchez combined for 42 points and the Saints upset the Cardinals, 46-44, before a standing room crowd of 1,200 at Hoover.

(Perhaps most satisfying was a measure of redemption.  The Saints played Hoover in football amid some fanfare for the first time since 1934 and were destroyed the previous fall, 66-0).

Their breakthrough season ended in the second round on the road, 75-53, to the tall, 22-2 Alhambra Moors, who won the championship with ensuing victories of  55-53 over Baldwin Park, 52-48 over Los Angeles Mt. Carmel, and 46-35 over Burbank Burroughs.

SIZE? NOT TO WORRY

Coronado’s starting lineup averaged 5 feet, 9 inches, with one starter at 6 feet, but coach John Kovac’s speedy Islanders rushed to a 21-4 record and reached the Southern California Southern Group finals for small schools in the lower geographical half of the CIF.

Coronado’s swift Islanders (from left): Ernie Wright, Jon Crawford, Charlie Love, Roger Nix, coach John Kovac, Robin Dean, Herman Wright.

Coronado, enrollment 384 in four grades, dressed nine players on the first day of practice, according to coach John Kovac.

“When we started winning a few more turned out,” said Kovac.  “Now we have 13 (and the ability to scrimmage and simulate game conditions).”

The Islanders, who had some late-reporting football players after the team got to the Southern Group semifinals before a 23-14 loss to Brawley, raced to an 11-1 Avocado League record, losing only at Escondido, 64-63.

Coronado was beaten by future NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer and Azusa Citrus, 63-58, in the championship game at Point Loma High after knocking out San Jacinto, 43-38, Puente, 53-43, and Grossmont, 59-57.

Th Islanders also set a presumed County record for most points in one game.  They defeated Rancho del Campo, 103-31.

CAVEMEN SURPRISE

San Diego coach Merrill Douglas wouldn’t have been blamed if he didn’t expect a run from his team, which had lost three December games to Northern squads by an average score of 53-35.

But Douglas also was waiting for football players.

Art Powell ,Willie West, Pete Gumina, Eldridge Cooks, Alden Kimbrough, and Edward Heard were late arriving after going to the playoffs with coach Duane Maley’s gridders.

Huntington Beach player scrambles for ball as San Diego’s Bob Rees (left) and Don Leslie move in to contest.

With a full complement the Cavemen swept the City League with a 12-0 record and were 18-4 when they earned a first-round playoff bye.

San Diego opened with a 49-39 win at Riverside Poly and then faced 31-2 Huntington Beach at Hoover.

Only 400 or so fans showed for the Tuesday night game but were treated to a thriller.  The Cavers topped the favored Oilers, 55-53.

Art Powell, who would earn all-Southern California first team honors, scored 44 points in the two victories.

San Diego moved into the semifinal round three nights later at Long Beach City College against 24-6 Burbank Burroughs.

The Cavers led, 47-46, early in the fourth quarter but a flurry that included seven consecutive free throws helped the Indians ease to a 59-50 win.

The Cavers’ two best players, the 6-foot, 2-inch Powell and the 6-5 Bob Rees fouled out, Rees in the first minute of the fourth quarter and Powell a minute later the next night in

Helix’ Gael Barsotti (center) and Rudy Rudzinski affected novel horizontally striped socks as they pursued Mar Vista’s Dee Pollock.

the third place contest, a 52-48 loss to Mt. Carmel. The Cavers led for most of the game but were swept on the backboards in the final six minutes by the taller Crusaders.

MANY IN PLAYOFFS

A total of seven San Diego-area teams gained the playoffs and occupied four of the 16 berths in the Southern Group competition.

Grossmont advanced to its semifinal test with Coronado by defeating Brawley, 48-44, and Ramona, 46-33.

Ramona faced Grossmont after a 48-32 win over Twentynine Palms.

Escondido, without leading scorer Don Willis, was rocked at Calexico, 70-38.

Mar Vista defeated Coachella, 46-43, and Calexico, 63-38, before being eliminated by Citrus, 66-46.

OVERTIME SOLUTION

When their teams were tied, 45-45, at the end of overtime, coaches Locke Olson of Grossmont and Don Smith of Lincoln agreed to play the second overtime in sudden death.

Grossmont’s Don Cole quickly scored a layup and Grossmont walked off with a 47-45 win.  The clubs were deadlocked, 43-43, at the end of regulation play.

WHERE’S HOME?

The lack of gymnasiums continued to hamstring City League scheduling.

Lincoln and Mission Bay would open their own facilities in 1955-56, but until then there would be odd venue matchups:

Lincoln played San Diego at Hoover.  Hoover played Kearny at Point Loma.  Kearny played Mission Bay at San Diego.

RANDOM

Football star John Adams also was starting forward on 17-7 Hoover basketballers.

–Six Escondido players fouled out and accounted for 30 of the 37 personal fouls assessed the Cougars in a 71-59 loss to Vista, which cashed 41 free throw attempts.

–Hoover, with 6-5 Bill Kupiec and 6-2 John Adams controlling the backboards, was able to survive a putrid field goal percentage,  20 of 75 shots for 26.6%, but led, 26-3, after one quarter and beat Kearny, 54-32.  The Komets were more putrid, 10×52 from the field for 19.2%.

–Chula Vista made 26 of 41 free throws attempts in a 44-30 win over Helix.  The host Highlanders held a 22-18 advantage from the field but were only 8 for 25 from the line.

–Frustration probably was the motivation when Sweetwater’s Allen Redman swapped punches with Grossmont’s Dick Cole.  Grossmont (8-2) sent Sweetwater to its ninth consecutive Metropolitan League loss, 37-28.

–Fallbrook trailed Escondido, 49-14, at the start of the fourth quarter…and went into a stall.  The Warriors did not score in the final eight minutes and lost, 59-14.

–Poor shooting  Point Loma, which finished 3-9 in the City League and 3-16 overall, hit 13 of 17 attempts from the floor for 76% and was 12 for 16 from the free-throw line, including two winning attempts by Frank Rogers, and upset La Jolla, 38-37.

–The score was tied on 8 occasions and the lead was exchanged 25 times as Coronado held on to defeat Grossmont, 59-57, in the semifinals.  On the same night, Mar Vista led Citrus, 25-24, at the half before bowing, 66-46.

JUMP SHOTS

Many  coaches did not like a new rule, which awarded a second free throw if the first was made, saying the legislation put too much emphasis on  the charity toss, according to Jim Trinkle of The San Diego Union…Brown Military’s 46-39 win over Army-Navy  ended the Warriors’ 22-game, Southern Prep League winning streak…Beverly Hills won the Kiwanis Tournament Unlimited Division, 53-33 over defending two-time titlist San Diego…Newhall Hart, behind future NFL quarterback Joe Kapp, won the Limited division, 50-46, over El Centro Central  after opening with a 104-33 win over Oceanside…the Normans got to the Unlimited final with a 39-37 win over Inglewood, which received a last minute technical foul for calling a sixth timeout..the fine led to a pivotal free throw for the winners…Inglewood Morningside’s John Arrillaga scored 39 points in an 82-52 win over Escondido and broke a Kiwanis record set the night before when the Saints’ John Cunningham scored 34 in a 77-64 win over Arrillaga’s Monarchs…Morningside went on to win one of the two Southern Section small schools championship by defeating Beverly Hills, 64-62, in the Northern Group final…Grossmont topped Chula Vista, 53-43, for the consolation championship in the post-Christmas Chino Tournament…Allen Good, former Hoover athlete, became coach at La Jolla after Don Hankins stepped down because of a health issue…five years before his brother attained similar honors at Mission Bay, La Jolla’s 6-1 center Jack Cravens would graduate with 8 varsity letters….

2 Comments »

2016-17: Saints Rise to No. 6 in Final Ratings

Rick : April 6, 2017 10:55 am : Basketball, Track & Field

Another good season of San Diego Section basketball is in the books.

St. Augustine finished sixth in the final, expanded Cal-Hi Sports listing of the top 40 teams in the state and the Mission Hills girls were seventh in rankings of the top 35.

The Saints (28-5) were a preseason No. 21 in the newsletter’s top 25  but rolled through local games and showed continued improvement.

An example of the Saints’ rise came in the three losses to No. 2 Mater Dei.  Coach Mike Haupt’s team lost by 23, 12, and finally by 6  to the Monarchs in the Southern California semifinals.

Torrey Pines (28-5) rose to 13th after not being in the preseason top 25.  Preseason-ignored Vista (28-5) finished 24th  and Foothills Christian (24-7)  26th after starting No. 16.

Foothills was third in Cal-Hi’s final rankings for the 2015-16 season, with Cathedral 14th, and St. Augustine 23rd.

St. Augustine was 23rd, Torrey Pines 24th, and Foothills Christian 36th in 2013-14.

Helix, the winningest San Diego team this season with a 31-6 record and a state finalist in Division IV, was not in Cal-Hi’s  top 40.

Schedules matter.  The Highlanders annually do not play the level of opponents of the section’s big three.

HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH…

The girls’ team at Mission Hills repeated its third place rating of a year ago.

The Bishop’s (30-4), with state career scoring leader Destiny Littleton,  was 12th.

La Jolla Country (18-12) was ranked 26th, “the best 12-loss team in the state,” according to Cal-Hi Sports, which respects the schedules and teams annually turned out each season by coach Terry Bamford.

TRACK

The spring thinclad season officially commands center stage this week at the Arcadia Invitational, where dozens of San Diego Section runners, throwers, jumpers and vaulters will compete in a variety of classes.

Leave a response »

1953-54: Spartans Footballers Get Basketball Legs

Rick : April 2, 2017 4:41 pm : Basketball

All coach Clarence Burton and the Chula Vista Spartans needed was the rounding into shape of several football players fresh off the CIF Southern Section small schools championship.

The Spartans started slowly in December while Chet DeVore’s gridders were engaged in the postseason, which concluded with a 12-6 win over Brawley.

With Larry Armbrust, Bob Neeley, Dave Erwin, Wally Anderson, Cecil Hall, and others on hand, the South Bay squad caught fire in January, raced to a 12-2 Metropolitan League record, and swept three playoff games to win another CIF title.

Closing at 19-9, the Spartans were 17-3 after a first-round loss in the post-Christmas Chino tournament.

Footballers Wally Anderson (center) and Cecil Hall get back to basics with coach Clarence Burton.

Burton replaced Chet DeVore, who had led the program from its beginning in 1947-48 and who had assumed the additional responsibility of coaching football in 1951.

DeVore probably bought principal Joe Rindone a box of cigars or took his boss to lunch.

Without basketball on his plate, the coach would not have to end one season and plunge into another, as was the situation in 1952, when the playoff-bound Spartans’ football schedule overlapped into the winter sport.

It was not uncommon for the era.  Basketball coaches relied on football players, baseball and track coaches on basketball players.

REMATCH DIFFERENT

After topping Army-Navy, 49-39, in their first playoff, the Spartans advanced to a semifinal contest at Chaffey College in Ontario against Claremont, a 53-48 winner over Burton’s team in the Chino tournament consolation finals.

The game was no classic, with lots of whistles and a high level of anxiety in the fourth quarter, when neither team scored a field goal.

But Chula Vista advanced, 44-41, in a tense battle that saw the game tied 11 times and with 12 lead changes.

The Spartans made 16 of 20 free throw attempts and ex-footballer Cecil Hall, usually unsuccessful at the charity stripe, converted 9, including 5 in a row in the fourth quarter.

“I don’t think Chula Vista is better than us, but we couldn’t match that free-throw magic,” said losing coach Dave Stern.

The Spartans defeated St. Bernardine of San Bernardino, 61-44, for the championship.

CAVERS AIRED OUT

Not particularly well regarded despite its 22-4 record, San Diego was ushered out in the quarterfinals, 56-51, by the favored Fillmore Flashes, who brought a 23-5 record and a portable oxygen tank for use during time outs.

As they had when playing Hoover in 1952, the Flashes shortened the 180-mile trip by busing 38 miles to Burbank and then flying to San Diego, arriving at the Hoover gym an hour before tipoff.

City League champion San Diego High, with coach Merrill Douglas, Larry McDonald, Art Powell, Alfred Hudson, Al West, George Taylor, James Rothwell, and Jerry Davee (from left) made it to playoff quarterfinals round.

The Cavers had surprised the playoff field by defeating favored Alhambra, 68-56, at Whittier with a 40-point explosion in the second half.

Point Loma, the other San Diego playoff qualifier, completed a 18-8 season with a 58-43 loss at Huntington Beach.

LIKES INTERSECTIONALS

“Maybe I’ve got a peculiar idea on this, but I think our boys learn more playing some tough, outside opponent than by scrimmaging a neighbor whose system we already know,” said Kearny coach Ken Dowell.

The Komets made a peculiar road trip.  They traveled to Los Angeles to play the Pepperdine College freshmen.

Kearny coach Ken Dowell is surrounded by Komets Lee Buchanan, Ken Bailey, Gene Shaw, and Gene Chambers (from left).

Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe.   Dowell’s brother, Robert (Duck) Dowell, coached the Waves’ varsity.

The Peps’ freshies won, 48-33, and 69-46.

Kearny also took part in a doubleheader at La Jolla, where the Komets and host Vikings traded opponents, San Bernardino Pacific and Bishop, on successive nights.

La Jolla coach Don Hankins thought the scheduling might have represented a first in San Diego.  Doubleheaders weren’t new but not with two local teams participating on the same court.

The Vikings and Komets each swept the Northern opponents.

BUSY DECEMBER

Hoover and San Diego were not as successful in the North as their City Prep League counterparts.  Long Beach Poly defeated San Diego, 43-40, and Hoover, 69-39.   Jordan beat San Diego, 50-42, but lost to Hoover, 63-58.

Grossmont dropped a pair on the road to Redlands and Claremont.  San Bernardino came South for a single game at Point Loma.  Fallbrook hosted a tournament.  St. Augustine played in the Los Angeles Mt. Carmel tournament.

While Art Powell (left) and Cliff Lindroth of San Diego battle for rebound, Oceanside’s Dan Holmgren (16) appears mesmerized. Cavers won Kiwanis opener, 59-31.

All action was a prelude to the seventh annual San Diego Kiwanis Tournament, which attracted 24 teams, including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Inglewood, and Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.

San Diego topped Hoover, 54-44, for the Unlimited Division championship.  Coronado defeated Mar Vista, 48-33, for the Limited title.

Play began on Thursday afternoon and led to some unintended consequences.

The event was scheduled to end on Monday, but that meant that Beverly Hills would have had to spend four consecutive nights on the road, as they had done two years before.

Normans coach Steve Miletich, possibly hearing from campus bosses, received Kiwanis officials’ blessing and was able to bail on the fifth-place game with Point Loma without forfeiting.

TURN OUT THE LIGHTS

Tournament personnel had to adjust when a power outage darkened much of the Point Loma peninsula at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, delaying two games scheduled for the Point Loma High gym.

Officials scrambled, moving the Grossmont-St. Augustine game to the Saints’ gym. The Kearny-Helix game became the fourth on the day’s card at San Diego High.

Future Evening Tribune sports writer Roger Conlee remembered years later:  “I was in the Point Loma gym that night.  Man, it was eerie, black as a cave.  A few people lit matches. Some Point Loma High person, probably a custodian,  eventually showed up with a flashlight.”

As Conlee recalled, about 20 minutes later the announcement of the venue shifts was made.

Helix and Kearny tipped at 10:30 p.m.  Until we hear otherwise we’ll call that the latest start ever for a couple local teams.

SCORERS

Coronado’s Tom Noonan was the County leader with a 19.4 average and 448 points in 23 games.

Leading scorer Tom Noonan (right) and Coronado’s Bob McInerney squeeze Chula Vista’s Cecil Hall, but Spartans defeated Islanders, 47-42, in Metropolitan League game.

Point Loma’s Homer Krantz was the City League leader with 339 in 26 games (13.0).St. Augustine’s 6-foot, 5-inch,  junior center John Cunningham scored  43 points in an 86-33 win over Brown Military.

Cunningham bettered the school record of 36, set by Hank Zumstein in 1953.

The Saints, struggling to book a full schedule of games as an independent, won 10 of 18, with Cunningham scoring 330 points, for a 18.3-point average.

IN REVERSE

San Dieguito center Vincent Vint tapped in a Mar Vista shot for two points.

Let’s try that again.

San Dieguito center Vincent Vint tapped in a Mar Vista shot for two points.

We were correct the first time.

Vint’s wrong-way hoop proved the difference in the Metro League contest.

The Mustangs and Mariners tied at 53 in regulation play and Mar Vista won in overtime, 55-53.

TROUBLE WITHOUT HARRY

Hoover was 5-5 in its last 10 games and out of the playoffs after starting 12-2.  The Cardinals could not overcome the loss of forward Harry Wilson, who sustained a broken ankle.

Wilson was leading City scorers with 188 points and 13.4 average in 14 games.

LOOPS TO GET BREAKS 

The 14-game City League round robin was the longest for any team in local history but the massive restructuring that took place at the CIF Southern Section executive committee meeting in Los Angeles in December promised to loosen schedules.

Army-Navy coach Richard Gronquist huddled with Sam Wood, Arnold Bennett, Nyal Stamolis, Ed Peterson, and Ted Wieseman en route to 20 straight Southern League victories.

The formation of the Avocado League would take North County schools and Coronado out of the Metropolitan League beginning in September, 1954, and the Metro would welcome Helix and Grossmont from the City.

Changes were necessary because the City added Lincoln to the lineup this season and Mission Bay would join next school year.

BOSSES TO SAINTS:  DROP DEAD!

Although shut out at the December CIF re-leaguing meeting (see “1953: Welcome Avocado League”), St. Augustine tried again, but the Saints were rebuffed by the City and Metro leagues.

The City rejected a Saints application on grounds that the “new loop was set up to include schools under the supervision of the San Diego school superintendent,” wrote St. Augustine alumnus Harry Monahan and prep chronicler for The San Diego Union.

“A few days later the revised Metro League had advised St. Augustine that its request to join that loop had been disapproved because the applicant was a private school,” said Monahan.

HORNETS?

They originally were called the “Pennies” or “Presidents” but Lincoln, without a senior class until next year, was destined to become known as the Hornets.

Leonard Arevalo was a starting forward on the all-underclass, first-year Lincoln squad.

Coach Don Smith’s team practiced at Municipal Gym in Balboa Park and played “home” games at San Diego and Hoover.

“We’re not thinking about any league championships, but we’ll be out to win and learn as much as we can…” said Smith, who played at Hoover and San Diego State before launching his coaching career at Mar Vista.

The Hornets staggered to a 2-18 record.  Their first game was a 49-30 loss to Chula Vista at Municipal gym and they opened City League play with a 50-26 loss to Helix.

JUMP SHOTS

Coach Richard Gronquist’s Army-Navy Warriors were 15-6 overall, wrapped up a second consecutive Southern Prep League title, and extended a streak of 20 consecutive league victories…Helix, 7-14 overall and 5-9 in the City League, upset Hoover, 43-41, and stunned San Diego, 52-40…Hoover coach Charlie Hampton, looking for the right combination  or giving everyone a chance, or both, had used 16 players who scored at least one point through December…St. Augustine’s B team finished with a 19-1 record…Chula Vista B’s defeated Escondido, 34-32, to wrap a 14-0 Metropolitan League campaign…Hoover’s B’s played in the postseason Santa Monica B tournament, defeating Torrance, 36-31, and bowing to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, 42-20…with as many as 10 expected players still involved with the  football team, Chula Vista was no match for San Diego in the opening game, losing, 58-31 after trailing, 38-14, at halftime…Hoover was outscored, 26-18, from the field but made 16 free throws to defeat San Diego, 34-29…Alhambra coach Claude Miller revealed that he was a “shirt-tail relative” of San Diego coach Merrill Douglas’…the mentors apparently were distantly connected by marriage…Chula Vista’s Blake Neal led all scorers with 85 points in 4 Chino Tournament games…”It’s good we have so many boys named David (including starters Jarvis and Inman) on the club…they’re going to have to be giant killers (for us) to get anywhere in the City Prep League,” said La Jolla coach Don Hankins…the Vikings were third with a 9-5 record and 17-8 overall…the Christmas pageant at Grossmont ousted the Grossmont and Helix teams…the squads had to move outside and practice on the Foothillers’ macadam courts…Municipal Gym also was the practice site for Kearny, which played home games at La Jolla, and Chula Vista, a tenant at Sweetwater…San Diego played on a partially warped home floor after water leaked onto the surface and remained for several days during the Christmas vacation…the Cavers’ playoff against Fillmore was at Hoover for that reason….

La Jolla was 17-8 under coach Don Hankins, who rolled with Spike Harvey, Jack Cravens, Joe Barrington, and John Hinds (from left).

The 18-8 Point Loma Pointers were all in with coach Paul Rundell and led by City scoring leader Homer Krantz (second from left). Bill Harvey, Norman Alexander, Frank Rogers, and Chuck Boyce (from left) also contributed.

8 Comments »

1943-44: Ivan the Terrible, Not

Rick : March 25, 2017 3:33 pm : Basketball

An otherwise quiet, ho-hum campaign shortened by war was energized in the season’s last game.

Ivan Robinson, the younger brother of 1941-42 San Diego star Ermer Robinson, scored 38 points, including 25 in the second half of a 70-23, season-ending victory over Kearny.

News accounts reported that no prep in the area had ever rung up that many in one game.

Headline writers wiped figurative eggs off their ink-stained faces.

Robinson’s scoring outburst and closing rush also snatched the scoring title from La Jolla’s Bill Pince, and belied bold exclamations just days before.

Pince, who had games of 28 and 24 points and averaged 19 a game in his last three, was declared the winner, although all points were yet to be scored.  The Vikings’ standout appeared to have a lock, with 102 points in eight games to teammate Frank Fleming’s 74, Robinson’s 68, and the 67 of San Diego’s Sal Gumina.

Tribune-Sun was certain of Pince’s victory.

Pince’s season was complete as San Diego and Hoover prepared for a late-season nonleague encounter.  Pince was scheduled to compete against a representative from every Victory League team in a free-throw contest at halftime of the Cardinals-Cavers contest.

The San Diego Union also annointed Pince.

Robinson’s 7 points and Gumina’s 8 against Hoover did not count in the league scoring race, so there was little drama expected four days later when the Cavers took on Kearny in the Hilltop gym on the final Tuesday night.

Robinson divided his 38 points between 17 baskets and 4 free throws to finish the league season with 106 points and a 13.3 average to Pince’s 12.8.

DOUBTFUL LEGACY

The 6-foot, 2 inch Robinson and Gumina were part of a historically outstanding  team but one that became little more than a blip in the school’s athletic history.

The Cavers were the marquee squad on  a basketball map that spanned  Varsity (Class A) to B, C, and D classifications, with probably more than a hundred organized, high school, college, and defense industry teams commanding area indoor or outdoor courts.

But as the war continued to rage in the South Pacific and Europe, newspaper coverage of the preps was thin, sports departments limited by a lack of personnel and space.

Editors relied on wire service reports.  There were few local bylines in The San Diego Union and The Tribune-Sun, the city’s two dailies.

Stories were short, game action photos rare, and feature articles rarer.

Players continued to leave school for the military or for midterm graduation.

San Diego coach Merrill Douglas was gone until after the war.

JOHNNY ON SPOT

Douglas’ replacement was John Brose, who moved to the gymnasium from the practice field after assisting Bill Bailey’s varsity football team.

Brose inherited four lettermen, led by Robinson and Sal Gumina, who would earn an all-Southern California second team selection.

The Cavers fashioned a 13-1 record under Brose and raced through the Victory League with an 8-0 record, lording it over  their opponents by an average score of 49-17.

The schedule included four games with crosstown rival Hoover.

In the only league game between the teams, Sal Gumina’s overtime basket gave the Hilltoppers a 24-22 victory.

San Diego won two other clashes with the Cardinals before dropping a 40-38 decision late in the season, when Hoover’s Bobby Greenman sank a 35-foot shot with 10 seconds remaining.

MORE HOOPS

There was no postseason, so most members from Brose’s squad hooked on with the San Diego YMCA team and won the Southern California Y championship.

It was at the Y event that several Los Angeles-area coaches voiced the opinion that Brose’s team would have been a strong contender for a CIF Southern Section title, according to Don King in Caver Conquest.

The CIF suspended playoffs after the 1943-44 and 1944-45 seasons.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Officer Walter Hunting takes part in speed photo op.

San Diego drivers were warned.

Twenty-two signs signaling a speed limit of 35 were erected on San Diego thoroughfares, with 24 more ordered.

The speed laws were in effect for El Cajon Boulevard to La Mesa; El Cajon Blvd., to Russ Blvd.; Pacific Highway from the North end of the San Diego River Bridge to Harbor Drive, and from Pacific Highway to Eighth Street and Roosevelt Avenue in National City.

SET SHOTS

“I think we’d finish first or second with an indoor gym,” said La Jolla coach Larry Hansen, whose team was 5-3 and shared Victory League “minor division” honors with Coronado…Hoover seemed to have the officials on its  side but missed 16 free throws in a 32-30 loss to the Alumni…the gulf between the good and the bad was vast…after a 46-26 loss to San Diego, Hoover turned around and defeated Vocational, 61-31…San Diego defeated Vocational, 61-17…Hoover’s late-season win over San Diego was accomplished despite the mid-term graduation loss of Don Nuttall, who had 20 points in his final game, a 32-30 win over Point Loma, which was losing Billy Kettenberg and his 11.3 average to graduation…Bobbie Phelps (15) and Eddie Crain (13) picked up for Nuttall against San Diego…San Diego (8-0)) was followed by Grossmont (7-1) and Hoover (6-2) in Class B standings….Hoover won in Class C and Kearny in Class D in the eight-team Coronado Invitational…Coronado scheduled neighboring wartime teams…the Islanders topped the Naval Air Station, 37-36, while the trans-bay team’s Bees dropped a 45-20 decision to Naval Air Ninth Division….

 

 

Leave a response »
« Page 1, 2, 3 ... 10, »

14 Responses to Basketball Blog

  1. John Fairchild says:

    Just read a little more. It’s nice to see there is a little recognition after all these years.
    Thank a bunch for the comments. Those were fun years. Thank you. John Fairchild

    • Rick says:

      John, my best memory of you was that you could get up and down and had a pretty good mid-range jumper. Am I correct? And didn’t you play in a regional tournament game in which BYU either won or lost, something like 101-95, or thereabouts?

  2. Rick Potter says:

    I am way behind on this website. A day late and dollar short. The Portland State player was Cooper. I saw Fairchild take Mel Counts apart in the Far West Classic in 1963. San Dieguito had another outstanding player, Janski, during that time period, who went on to play at Santa Clara. Speaking for the 1961 Hoover team, we would have won because no one could outcoach Charlie Hampton in those days. Record in 1960 was 27-2, in 1961 24-3, in 1962 25-2. Elburt Miller was also the last player cut by the San Diego Clippers. Had he not broken his nose I believe he would have made the team.

    • Rick says:

      The Potter family contributed to that three-season record of 76-7, starting with your brother Norm on the ’60 team. You, of course, followed with an outstanding career under Hampton. I’m not sure about Elburt Miller. The San Diego Rockets were hewre during the 1969-70 and ’70-71 seasons. The Clippers came several years later.

      • Rick Potter says:

        I meant to say the Rockets and the player that got the last spot was Nick Jones from U of O. I played with him, and his brother Steve who played 12 years in the NBA and ABA. To whomever responded to my comment; Norm passed away three weeks ago.

      • Rick says:

        Rick Potter, this is Rick Smith, the person who responded to your earlier comment. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. As I recall, he was Hampton’s first substitute, the first player off the bench on that 1959-60 Hoover team? I must have spoken with Norm 3 or 4 years ago. I think he was living in one of the beach cities around Los Angeles. All the best and I hope you continue to check in on this blog.

  3. Jim Brown says:

    Two comments re: this thread:

    1. As a sophomore Caver, when Elburt was a senior, I’ll never forget a game in our gym when he drove the lane and got hammered without a foul call. Falling parallel to the floor, and about 18 inches from it, the ball sprung out of his hand and banked in off the backboard. The B Street Boys went crazy.

    2. As an undersized singles hitting all-star for the Mike Morrow Little League Butchers team, loaded with Jerry Devanon and John D’Aquisto (who went on to the majors), Dougie Hunt (who should have) and athletes like Gary Marshall, Lyle Hull, John Morstad (all three future Hoover Cardinals), eventual teaching pro golfer Kert Holden and others; I thought I was pretty good and looked forward to Pony League the following year. Teammate John Lau and I went over to the Pony field to watch a game in which Cluck was throwing the ball harder and more inside than I’d ever seen, and I think he drilled two kids in a row while we watched. The hell with Pony League, I quickly turned to fishing and made a career of it. Years later, I returned to the ballfields after forming a three-pitch softball team named the City Lakers, once again with a couple of major leaguers playing with us. Gene Stone who’d been with the Phillies and played when Richie Allen couldn’t get back from the race track played first, and Kevin Mitchell a cousin of one of our players and was still active showed up to play with us once in a while as well. Now I’m just old and with a memory.

    IMO the U-T’s Top 52 (or whatever it’s called) re: those who influenced sports in this town missed a few. Wilbur Folsom in tennis, The Abregos of Presidio in golf and Mike Morrow in baseball.

    • Rick says:

      Are you Jim Brown of Zeke Zieralski fame? Of Rob Orttman B Street fame? I’ve got a few Kovac stories of my own, which I won’t relate here. I would have responded sooner but have been laid up last week qith a mild case of pneumonia and stomach flu. Quite a parlay. Of all those names mentioned above, Cluck is the closest. We gather with a group of guys at D.Z. Akins every Thursday morning. Bob is still working, scouting West Coast teams for Tampa Bay. I see Gary Marshall at the CIF track championships every year. He’s retired in Carlsbad. I always considered Doug Hunt was one of the best athletes I’ve seen out of San Diego High. I was interviewing Wilver Stargell during a Padres-Pirates series at San Diego Stadium in early ‘seventies and he told me Doug Hunt was his cousin. Thanks for writing and reinforcing Elburt Miller’s legend. He was in the same league with Hambone Williams. I’m available for a sandwich and some conversation if you have the time. Does having lived in an apartment on B Street between 27th and 28th Street in 1963 make me a B Street boy?

  4. Rick says:

    Thanks for writing, Bob. Sorry to hear that Elburt passed. He had a good career at what I believe still was called Nevada Southern (now UNLV) in the mid-‘sixties and went on to have a successful career in automobile sales.

  5. Bob Cluck says:

    Was happy to hear in your blog about the late, great, Elburt Miller (San Diego High 1963, City College, Nevada Southern) breaking the single game scoring record at City with 64 points in 1964. I believe that he broke the Hambone Williams record that year, another great local player. Not enough is written about Junior College Sports in this town. Rick, keep up the good work.

  6. Anthony Barajas says:

    How about an article on the 1961 San Dieguito High School basketball team that went 25-1 and won the first San Diego CIF county basketball championship. They were led by 6’8″ John Fairchild. He went on to play for BYU, LA Lakers, Anaheim Amigos, Denver, and Indiana Pacers.

    • Rick says:

      Good idea. The coach at San Dieguito, Dick McCracken (hope I have the name right) wanted to play Hoover, but the teams were separated by divisions. Unlike today there pro was no impetus to bring them together during the season and they wouldn’t meet in the playoffs. Hoover was 24-3 and won the AA championship. The Mustangs won the A championship. I forget who beat San Dieguito, which played its home games in Bing Crosby Hall next to the Del Mar Racetrack, but it was early in the season. Fairchild was a tall, rangy guy who could get up and down. What I remember best about Fairchild was an NCAA tournament game against UCLA in 1964. BYU gave the championship-bound Bruins a run for their money in a high scoring game. San Dieguito had another player who went on to Portland State and had a good college career. I’ll do some research and come up with an article.

      • John Fairchild says:

        Nice to hear a little history, from way back then. The team did go 25-1, in 1961. 54 years ago and I’m still breathing.
        McCracken was a good coach and a hard driver, but I think we all needed it.
        Thank you, again. John Fairchild

      • Rick says:

        John, I remember you. A tall, slender guy who could get up and down. I don’t think there would be a question in 2015. San Dieguito and Hoover would play. Your team certainly deserved the opportunity. We were all so short-sighted and narrow minded in those days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *