Basketball Blog

2018: Tom Ault, Crawford Basketball Standout

Rick : February 3, 2018 10:05 am : Basketball

They gave Tom Ault a tremendous sendoff recently at the Rancho Santa Fe First Presbyterian Church. More than 400 persons, including many San Diego State and sports luminaries from the ‘sixties and ‘seventies, were in attendance.

Ault, 72, who passed away recently, helped create a championship legacy at Crawford High.

Ault played basketball and baseball during a dawning era at the school on 55th Street in East San Diego.  He was a starting guard on the 1962-63 basketball squad that posted a 24-6-1 record, sneaked into the San Diego Section playoffs after a rigorous Eastern League campaign, and won the championship.

Larry Blum, who set a County scoring record with 737 points that year, was Ault’s partner in the Colts’ backcourt.

“Tommy played a key role,” said Blum.  “He was the peacemaker, mediator, and really the player/coach between Coach (Jim) Sams and the team.  He was the one who kept everyone else on an even keel with each other and Coach Sams.  He had the basketball IQ before anyone ever used the term.”

Blum was the team’s star player, Ault the glue.

The Colts overcame a midseason struggle and won a league vote for a playoff berth after tying for second place with Hoover.  They advanced through the playoffs and defeated St. Augustine, 64-44, for the championmship.

Crawford’s Tom Ault (22) and Larry Blum (32) look on as teammate Dave (Granddad) Grear and Hoover’s Gilbert Hernandez scramble for loose ball. Tom Nettles (11) is interested observer. Crawford won Kiwanis Tournament championship game, 55-49.

Among those paying their respects were former Chargers Gary Garrison, Doug Wilkerson, Jack Milks, and Mario Mendez, along with ex-Aztecs Leonard Di Santi, Jim White, and Eddie Mendez, Utah footballer Dan Spinazzola, and Ault’s athletic Crawford  classmates Tom Whelan, Mike Bladow, Dave Bruen, Bill Rainey, Ron Fox, Jim Rupe, and Fritz Ziegenduss, among others.

Blum said he and Ault forged a friendship in the seventh grade at Horace Mann Junior High after Blum’s family moved from Washington state to San Diego.

The pair were united in gym class, probably, said Blum, because their names were close alphabetically.

“Our friendship lasted over six decades and to the last day thrived,” said Blum, who went on to play at the University of San Francisco and became a successful Bay Area businessman who still finds time to play pickup basketball weekly at USF.

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1957-58: Shaules Had Records, but Cavers Had Championship

Rick : January 17, 2018 1:22 pm : Basketball

A palpable buzz was heard throughout San Diego gymnasiums this season, hummed to a pitch by a 5-foot, 8-inch sharpshooter with an unorthodox jump shot.

St. Augustine’s Tom Shaules set scoring records and drew huge crowds, but Shaules and his husky teammate, Sammy Owens, were a virtual two-man team and the Saints, while making the scoreboard blink, did not make the playoffs despite a 20-6 record and 11-5 City Prep League standing.

Shaules’ shot had a backward spin upon launch and was copied by other area sharpshooters.

San Diego, Mission Bay, Hoover, and eventually Lincoln, were able to stop the Saints in the fratricidal circuit that embraced nine teams and 16 games.  The league season began before the annual, pre-Christmas Kiwanis Tournament and produced Tuesday afternoon and Friday night dramas seemingly every week in January and February.

Meanwhile, Chula Vista and Sweetwater, blood rivals only four miles apart, separated themselves in the Metropolitan League.  Escondido had to win a playoff with Oceanside to earn the Avocado League’s postseason bid, and Ramona went on a winning streak in the Southern Prep.


Artist Gilbert and Edward Lee Johnson, the team’s leading scorers the year before, and Barry Landon and Eugene Sheridan formed a solid nucleus of veterans.   Football players Ezell Singleton and Bobby Anderson joined after the Southern California finals loss to Downey, and a spindly junior, Arthur (Hambone) Williams, who did not play basketball as a sophomore, became the team’s playmaker and would forge a legendary career that took Williams all the way to the Boston Celtics and an NBA championship. more »


2017-18 Week 8: Leaders Can Look Down Road

Rick : January 17, 2018 8:10 am : Basketball

Fast forward about month, to the round of 4 in the San Diego Section Open Division championships.

If the Max Preps’ power ratings hold and the first and second rounds play out as expected, Torrey Pines (20-2) would play Mission Bay (21-4) in one semifinal and Foothills Christian (19-5) would meet San Marcos (18-2) in the other.

Not bad.

The power ratings, as presented by Max Preps, generally are accepted by San Diego Section bosses and will continue to evolve until the playoff seeding meeting in late February.

Mission Bay closed in on its first league championship since the 1988-89 season with a 51-45, Western League victory last night over St. Augustine, No. 6 in Max Preps.

Foothills Christian still holds sway in the weekly Union-Tribune poll (I  have voted each week for Torrey Pines as No. 1). The Knights have five Coast League games left and Torrey Pines has six Avocado League encounters  plus a nonleague contest against Francis Parker.

There are a couple troublesome opponents on the horizon for each, but both figure to strongly close out the regular season.


Foothills Christian rose from 13th to 10th in Cal-Hi Sports’ weekly ratings and Mission Bay went up one position to 13th.  San Marcos and Torrey Pines remain on the bubble.

West Hills’ Cameron Barry (no relation to Rick, Drew, or Brent) has fallen off a little in the last two weeks but still ranks 12th among U.S. scorers.

Barry is averaging 33 a game with 660 points in 20 games. The leader is Tommy Murr of Lindsey Lane Christian in Athens, Alabama, with 1,031 points in 26 games for a 39.7 average.

Barry is the state leader, ahead of Camarillo’s Jaime Jaquez, who is averaging 32.8 with 688 points in 21 games.

Jc Canahuate of Army-Navy is No. 2 in San Diego and 12th in California at 27.9 with 585 points in 21 games.  Torrey Pines’ Bryce Pope (22×509, 23.1) is third in San Diego and 40th in California.

Union-Tribune Boys’ poll through Monday, Jan. 29:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 Foothills Christian (7) 19-5 115 1
2 Torrey Pines (5) 20-2 112 2
3 Mission Bay 20-4 96 3
4 San Marcos 18-2 85 5
5 Vista 17-6 67 4
6 Mater Dei 17-6 63 6
7 St. Augustine 12-4 50 7
8 La Jolla Country Day 16-7 21 8
9 Montgomery 17-4 13 9
10 Canyon Crest 14-7 10 NR

Others receiving votes: Santa Fe Christian (12-9, 9 points),  Mount Miguel (19-4, 8), The Bishop’s (13-6, 4), El Camino (13-8, 3),Orange Glen  (14-7, 3 ).

Poll participants:  John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Terry Monahan, freelancer; Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions;  Adam Paul,  Ramon Scott,; John Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator; Rick Smith,; Bodie DeSilva,; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Country 107.9 FM; Christian Pedersen, S.D. Preps Insider; Aaron Burgin, Fulltime Hoops; Brad Enright, L.A. Court Report.

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1935-36: Hilltoppers Win, Cardinals Feathers Ruffled

Rick : December 18, 2017 1:16 pm : Basketball

It was an unlikely season with some unlikely conclusions.

–A rare playoff run by San Diego teams in the Southern California playoffs.

–San Diego High’s march through four rounds to win its only CIF Southern Section championship, along the way setting a school single-game scoring record…maybe.

–Hoover’s blitz of  Class B opponents in a sequel to championships in 1931-32, 1933-34, and 1934-35 but with no hardware and no satisfaction.


San Diego entered the season with four lettermen starters, Ernie Mallory, Melvin Hendry, Vance Randolph, and Lowell Lee, and picked up a fifth, Bill Patterson, who transferred in from Frankford, Indiana.

Alhambra and Long Beach Poly were favored to fight it out for Coast League laurels.  The Hillers were 6-8 overall the previous year, 3-7 in league play, and 0-4 against the Moors and Jackrabbits.

San Diego made it clear early  that it was vastly improved, sweeping Class A (a more preferred nomenclature than “varsity”) competition in the annual San Diego County Interscholastic Tournament that opened the season in December.

With Mallory leading, Coach Mike Morrow’s squad whipped through Grossmont, 48-13, Point Loma, 36-14, and Ramona, 54-15.

Alhambra was the visitor in the league opener and went home a stunned, 31-28 loser after trailing, 15-9, at halftime.  Mallory led the winners with 13 points.

The San Diego-Alhambra contest was played on a Friday afternoon at 3:30 instead of at the usual 7:30 p.m. because the Moors didn’t want to be headed home late at night on the Coast Highway with the threat of fog.

The 1935-36 Southern California champions pose in front of the Stadium peristyle, front row (from left): Ernie Mallory, Paul Shea, Roy Cleator, Vance Randolph, Billy Cesena. Middle row, from left: Coach Dewey (Mike) Morrow, Roy Rollins, Judson Starr, Melvin Hendry, Lowell Lee. Top row, from left: Bill Patterson, Bob Barth, Homer Peabody, manager Erickson.  Missing, Eddie Priesler, Herman Gatewood.


Travel and its various inconveniences always was a nemesis for the far-flung Coast League squads.


The visiting Hilltoppers led Long Beach Poly, 18-17, at the end of three quarters in their next game but couldn’t hold on and dropped a 21-19 decision.  It was the Jackrabbits’ 17th victory in the 19 games between the teams since they first met in the 1920-21 season but it also was San Diego’s last loss in the 15-1 season.

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1945-46: “We Got (Expletive)!”

Rick : December 4, 2017 4:30 pm : Basketball

The cry is as old as the game.  Visiting teams screaming that the referees or the timekeeper did them unjustly.

Huntington Beach certainly had those thoughts when the Oilers, 4-0 on the season and a reported 20-1 in 1944-45, were on the short end of a 38-37 score at San Diego in a game punctuated by a wild finish and “pandemonium, with fans spilling onto the floor,” according to The San Diego Union.

Huntington Beach had taken a 37-36 on a free throw after Hilltopper Ben Cendali fouled with two minutes remaining in the game.  Cendali got back into his team’s good graces when he converted a free throw to tie the score, and then, in the final seconds, scored on another trip to the foul line.

As time was running out, or ran out, depending on whose side you were on, the Oilers’ Elmer Coombs launched a desperation shot from behind the halfcourt line that drained the basket but was disallowed.

Neither the Union or Evening Tribune stories carried a byline, indicating that the sports desk probably received a game call from Cavers coach John Brose or a student representative.

The Huntington Beach coach apparently claimed that there was no  moment that declared the game was over, charging that the starter pistol used to signal the ends of periods of play was faulty and never went off.

And no one heard the timer blowing a whistle that the game was over, according to the newspaper  reports.

Basketball coach John Brose (left) was going into administration and baseball mentor Dewey (Mike) Morrow was returning from the military, as was basketball coach  Merrill Douglas.

It also was reported that the game timer was Amerigo Dini, a Cavers football letterman who had to be filling in for a faculty member or coach.

And that’s the way it was on the cool, overcast evening of Dec. 16, 1945, as the city, relieved that  war was over, prepared for the most joyous Christmas in years.


Midterm graduates, the bane of coaches, were leaving school around the first of February since the early days of the CIF.

Southern Section historian John Dahlem pointed out that the practice of students accumulating credits and graduating early probably began to diminish in the 1950s.  Dahlem was part of one of the final midterm graduations in Southern California when he and others got their diplomas in 1961 at Santa Monica High.

San Diego High had lost players for years, even during the 1935-36 Southern Section championship season but that team was talented enough to overcome.

Pre-war coach Merrill Douglas had returned from the Army but would not take over again until the 1946-47 school year, leaving the wartime mentor, John Brose, to cope with the departure of four starters.

That’s four, as in a starting lineup of five.   Wally Pietila, Norm Scudder, Bob Grant, and Lee Bowman all left early, along with Elfego Padilla and Joe Castagnola, six of the top seven.

Brose coached splendidly in Douglas’ absence, his teams posting a 48-12 record in Brose’s three seasons, including 20-5 this year, but the Hilltoppers flattened out with a 4-4 record after a 16-1 start.

Grant, a three-year letterman at center, was the leading scorer in his Victory League games, averaging 15 points a game.

Midterm graduate Bob Grant still led the all-Victory League team.

An assembly honoring the mid-term graduates saw the team’s most-valuable player trophy go to Grant and Pietila received the Parents Teachers’ Association award after earning 20 grades of A. Pietila was scheduled to enroll at the University of California at Berkeley.

The players’ last game was a 49-30 victory over Point Loma as Grant led the way with 18 points.

Brose pointed out that “Pietila, Castagnola, and Bowman actually are Bees, but their play elevated them.   It is unusual for a B exponent player starting on varsity.”

The 5-foot-5, 128-pound Pietila, one of the Hilltoppers’ starting forwards, just missed qualifying for Class C, based on the exponents of height, weight, and age.


Ish Herrera put Foothillers ahead of Cavers

Brose began his team’s second season by inserting reserves Bob McCommins, Jerry Dahms, John Holloway, Charlie Coffey, and Clyde Barnes into the rotation with junior Ben Cendali, who became the team’s leading scorer, averaging nine points in seven league games.

The Hilltoppers had no time to ease into the transition.  Their next opponent was Grossmont, like San Diego, with a 4-0 record.

The Hilltoppers led, 26-25, late in the game, but the Foothillers’ Ish Herrera drained a 30-foot set shot and Ralph Lamp added a basket for a 29-26 victory. A 48-36 loss to Hoover dropped San Diego into third place tie with Coronado at 5-2 in the final standings, while Grossmont and Hoover, each 6-1, tied for first.


San Diego, with an invitation from the Beverly Hills Tournament, switched its Victory League game from Feb. 22 to Feb. 12.

The bid undoubtedly came before the midterm graduation, when the Cavers were undefeated in league play and with one of the best records in Southern California.

Hoover, as winner of the first Beverly event in the 1941-42 season and in the resumed event in 1944-45, also was part of the field Grossmont expected an at-large bid, but The San Diego Union cited a “misunderstanding” between Beverly Hills officials and the Southern Section and the Foothillers were out.

Hoover’s bid for a third consecutive Beverly Hills title stalled against Santa Barbara.  The Cardinals led, 19-8, at the half, and 26-19 after three quarters but fell to the eventual tournament champion, 33-32.  San Diego started fast, 43-13 over Lawndale Leuzinger, but went home after a 43-24 loss to Anaheim.


The Victory League campaign ended on Feb. 22.  The Southern Section playoffs would not begin until March 1.  Hoover and Grossmont first engaged in a playoff to determine the league champion and drew an estimated 2,200 persons to the reported 1,800-seat capacity Men’s Gym at San Diego State.

A 49-29 victory sent the Cardinals into the first round of the Southern Section tournament and they responded with a 54-44 win over Brawley.  The season ended when South Pasadena, 27-2 coming into the game, defeated the Cardinals, 33-23, in the semifinals.

Hoover finished the season and Rickey Wilson’s tenure as coach with a 13-6 record, following seasons of 10-4, 11-4, 14-5, and 16-1. The best in school history far into the 21st century.

Hoover’s Jack Seiquist participates in the photo op of the day.

Wilson’s overall record of 64-15 and .810 winning percentage remained as the best in school history through a succession of mostly successful coaches through the turn of the century.


…Herb Hoskins?

The man coaching the Brawley Wildcats in their first-round playoff game against Hoover looked familiar.

Hoskins had been the Sweetwater football coach two decades before, posting a 40-29-3 record from 1919 to 1928.  He moved to the Imperial Valley after leaving the Red Devils and taught chemistry at Brawley, adding basketball resume before the 1943-44 campaign.


Hoover won its 15th consecutive Victory League game by defeating Kearny, 39-21.  The Cardinals had not lost in league play since 1943-44, but Kenny Tennison’s basket for Grossmont with five seconds remaining gave the Foothillers a 34-33 victory, ending the Cardinals’ streak.


Play resumed in the Chino Invitational after wartime hiatus following the 1941 tournament…defending champion Hoover dropped a 41-39 decision to Burbank in the semifinals…San Diego bowed, 32-24, to San Bernardino in the semis…lack of local competition annually forced Hoover and San Diego to the road…the Cardinals began their season with a U,.S. 395 trip to San Bernardino )29-26 loss) and Ontario Chaffey (37-34 win)…Grossmont went East, through snow in the Laguna Mountains, and was beaten, 24-20, at El Centro Central…San Diego warmed up for league games with 22-13 and 36-29 victories at Compton and Redondo Beach Redondo, respectively…the Cavers went North late in the season to defeat a group of prisoners at the Chino’s Men’s Institute, 37-34,and at Huntington Beach, 21-15…Coronado’s Dave Melton\on was the leading Victory League scorer, averaging 12.1 points with 85 in seven games…Melton played 13 years ibn baseball, most in the high minors, and had cups of coffee with the Kansas City A’s in 1956 and ’58…Melton hit .299 with 116 runs batted in and 19 home runs for San Francisco in the PCL in 1955…St. Augustine defeated Santa Monica. St. Monica’s, 24-13, in a Southland Catholic League contest on an outdoor court at Navy Field…Grossmont took season high point honors in a 63-10 rout of San Diego Vocational…Bob Grant scored 20 points in San Diego’s 60-22 win over Kearny….

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1940-41:  Douglas, Wilson Make Coaching Debuts

Rick : November 18, 2017 5:14 pm : Basketball

Two young coaches destined to become legendary in San Diego basketball lore arrived as varsity mentors at the city’s two prep powerhouses.

Rickey Wilson, a former San Diego High player, succeeded Lawrence Carr at Hoover and Merrill Douglas, a transplanted Montanan, took over for Bill Schutte at San Diego High.

The schools  continued to be San Diego’s prime representatives, the Hilltoppers going 15-3 under Douglas and Hoover 10-4 under Wilson, but teams in the Metropolitan and Southern Prep Leagues commanded their shares of attention, although headlines were reserved for the war clouds that loomed in the West and the “The Battle of Britain”, being fought between the British and Germans in the skies above London.


San Diego and Hoover would join a 17-team super conference beginning in 1941-42 as the CIF attempted to separate large schools from small schools.  San Diego, Hoover, and Long Beach Poly, were the only members of the Coast League.

Down to three teams since Santa Ana bailed after the 1935-36 school year and Alhambra after 1938-39, the Coast basketball season was shortened.  The Hilltoppers and Hoover seasons ended this year in late January.  The Metropolitan and Southern Prep were active through the end of February.

New Cardinals mentor Rickey Wilson (right) meets Hoover athletic director John Perry.

CIF commissioner Seth Van Patten often had to hustle to fill playoff brackets.  Some leagues, notably the Metro, at the geographical bottom of the Federation, just didn’t want to be bothered.  Records in the CIF archives showed only a four-team field this year.

Poly won the Coast, taking three out of four from San Diego and Hoover, but the Jackrabbits were beaten in the CIF finals by Glendale Hoover, 23-20.

A spirited, six-game Metropolitan League race ended with Coronado, Escondido, and Grossmont, each 5-1, tying for first place.  Ramona ran the table with a 12-0 record to win its fifth consecutive Southern Prep championship.

Coronado Islanders were Metropolitan League co-champions with Escondido and Grossmont. Front row (from left) James Mealy, Bob Wright, Sevy Molino, Scott Daubin, Dexter Lanois. Back row (from left) Herman Riedlinger, Bob Melton, Jacob Gayle, Willard Matott, Bill Johns, Fritz Sanderman, Bob Thompson.


It took the San Diego news corps awhile to get it right with Ermer Robinson, the San Diego High star and future Harlem Globetrotter.  He was known as “Irma” Robinson for the first month of this, his junior season.

Martin Payne, the sports editor of The Russ, San Diego High’s weekly newspaper, covered several games for The San Diego Union and was the first to ensure that Robinson was correctly identified, when Payne covered the Hilltoppers’ 25-19 league victory over Long Beach Poly.


–Known as the County Interscholastic Tournament, an eight-team event took place with games at San Diego High, Hoover, Municipal Gym, and San Diego State. Grossmont defeated Point Loma, 30-12, for the championship.

–San Diego and Hoover at the same time were in the Huntington Beach Tournament, which also included Coronado. The Islanders opened with a 46-7 victory over Laguna Beach as Bud Ingle scored 20 points.  They were eliminated the next day by Ontario Chaffey, 22-17.

San Diego defeated Hoover, 24-15, for the Huntington Beach title after advancing with wins of 28-20 over defending champ Chaffey and 29-23 over Long Beach Wilson.  Hoover was in the finals after defeating Whittier, 36-26, and Santa Barbara, 20-19.

Junior Ray Boone would finish stellar basketball-baseball career at Hoover, become outstanding major league player and father and grandfather of future major leaguers.

San Diego was forced to give up the Huntington Beach trophy when Bob (Lefty) Felthaus was declared ineligible by the CIF a few days later for having signed a professional baseball contract in 1939, days before his 17th birthday.

Brooklyn Dodgers scout Tom Downey, under heavy criticism from local prep officials, said that he signed Felthaus after the player stopped attending school, his having dropped out of Hoover.  Felthaus became a student again at San Diego and had turned out for basketball.

–“Irma” Robinson scored 10 points as San Diego, playing for the first time without Felthaus, opened the post-Christmas Chino Tournament with a 42-9 win over San Juan Capistrano.  The Hilltoppers buried Huntington Beach, 38-13, but lost to Burbank, 30-20, in the semifinals.  Poly won its second straight title, 34-24, over Burbank.

–St. Augustine lost to St. Mary’s of Phoenix, 36-27 in the Los Angeles Catholic League tournament.  Hoover defeated Grossmont, 11-7, and Point Loma topped Hoover, 26-8, in finals of the San Diego High invitational for Class C and D teams, respectively.


Army-Navy’s 34-33 victory clinched a best, two-of-three series against the Oceanside chapter of the Knights of Pythias.  The cadets were not as fortunate against the so-named Vista Outlaws, who prevailed, 21-15.


Ramona’s 59-17 victory over Fallbrook represented the single-game scoring high for the season. The Bulldogs also defeated Julian, 53-26.

Julian’s Bud Farmer had the top individual performance with 24 in a 38-31 victory over Army-Navy and added 22 in a 30-24 win over San Dieguito. Julian’s 51-6 rout of Fallbrook, with Farmer scoring one point, represented the third, 50-plus game in the county.


Hilltoppers coach Merrill Douglas saw Maley as one of the keys to the following season.

San Diego’s season was over but Coach Merrill Douglas enticed Chino to come south a couple weeks a couple weeks later.  Douglas employed only players who would return for the 1941-42 season, opening with a starting lineup of Ermer Robinson, Jim Warner, Ron Maley, Denzil Walden, and Gerald Patrick.

The underclassmen delivered a 32-15 victory but Douglas would never see them play together again.  He would respond to a call from Uncle Sam before the next season and not return until the 1946-47 campaign.


Hoover’s Willie Steele set a record of 24 feet, ¾ inch, in the broad jump at the Southern Section track finals in Glendale in May, a few months after Steele served as student manager of the varsity basketball squad.  Steele was awarded a letter by coach Rickey Wilson, as was B squad manager Monroe (Bookie) Clark.

Steele, who played class B basketball the season before, went on to win the national collegiate broad jump championship at San Diego State and was the 1948 Olympic gold medalist in the event, with an all-time best of 26 feet, 6 ½ inches.


St. Augustine principal the Very Rev. W.B. Kirk announced that the Saints had found a home and would join the Southern Prep League in the next school year, after free-lancing and scuffling as an independent since the school opened in 1922.  The agreement was for one year, depending on the circuit’s ability to develop a schedule for eight teams.

Ramona, Julian, Fallbrook, Brown Military, Army-Navy, San Dieguito, and Vista were the other SPL members.  St. Augustine’s games would not count in the standings and the Saints eventually joined the Southland Catholic League of the Los Angeles area in 1945.


“The Russ” outgoing editor Graham Ostrander (left) makes traditional hand off of keys to student newspaper office at San Diego High.  Accepting is spring semester editor Martin Payne. Event took place during dinner at Hotel San Diego.

The U.S. census for 1940 reported San Diego County’s population at 289,348, including 203,737 in the city.   Other “township” totals: Borrego, 90; El Cajon, 20,160; Encinitas, 4,473; Escondido, 9,487; Fallbrook, 2,308; Jacumba, 1,214; National City, 32,213; Oceanside, 8,191;  Ramona, 3,384, and Vista, 4,091.

San Diego State, which would win the 1941 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship, drew a record 19,256 persons to 17 home games in the 1,800-capacity Men’s Gym.  The largest turnout was 1,713 for Santa Barbara State, although the record was 1,907 for a 1939 game against the Broadway Clowns.


The San Diego High gym was packed to the rafters with an estimated 1,900 persons when Hoover upended the Hilltoppers, 32-17…seven days later San Diego won at Hoover, 32-17…Coronado’s Metro League co-championship was achieved despite Coach Hal Niedermeyer’s suspension of Bud Ingle, the Metro’s leading scorer in 1939-40; Bill Hakes, and Al Galpin, early in the season…the three-team Coast’s all-league squad featured San Diego’s Bob (Lefty) Felthaus, Bob Carson, and Jack Maupin…Felthaus’ selection apparently was made on his reputation; he didn’t participate in league play…Hoover’s Rupert Crosthwaite, later well-known in San Diego circles for his ownership of a local sporting goods store, made second team….


1948-49: “Little Guys” Hold Sway

Rick : October 13, 2017 10:28 am : Basketball

City schools Hoover and San Diego usually wielded the sharp end of the stick, but smaller schools, for the second year in as row, stepped up.  Coronado, from the mostly suburban Metropolitan League, and Vista from the rural Southern Prep represented the area in Southern California playoffs.

There was no minor division or small school postseason alignment, in which the Islanders and Panthers, with relatively paltry enrollment numbers, probably would have been included.

You make the postseason, be prepared to play anyone, size of school no matter. One bracket of 16 teams met on successive weeks, two days each, almost all games at Redondo Beach Redondo.

A Small Schools division for the postseason would not be in place until the 1949-50 season, according to CIF historian John Dahlem.

Coronado likely would have enjoyed similar success in a group with more even student body numbers, as did the mid-1950s Islanders, who advanced to the finals two years in a row.

Coronado coach Keith Broaders is surrounded by his starting five of Dick Tulley, Don Davis, Tom Brown, John Kurtz, and Mark Davis (from left).

Thus, when Coronado thumped Inglewood, 46-28, in the first round, John De La Vega’s account for the Los Angeles Times began: “Little Coronado high school, unbeaten champions of the Metropolitan league in San Diego county, furnished the big surprise yesterday….”

The Islanders, coached by Keith Broaders, hammered the Bay League champions but were beaten, 39-29, by Ventura in the second round, closing out a 21-2 season.  Loyola earlier eliminated Vista (14-8), 48-24.

The exiting teams had faced the Southern Section’s premiere squads.

Loyola reached the round of 4 and defeated Coast League champion Compton, 34-33, and Ventura handled Alhambra, 58-41, for the championship.


Coronado’s record was listed as 21-1 in Bill Finley’s Evening Tribune High School Record Book 1945-69.

The obvious loss was to Ventura, but research showed that Broaders also scheduled a game in which he reportedly utilized only substitutes and the Islanders were upset by Brown Military, 29-27, in overtime.

Finley’s excellent publication reflected the difficulty finding complete, individual scoring statistics or total won-loss records from newspapers’ coverage in the early years until well into the late 1950s.


The three local teams, Grossmont, San Diego, and Hoover, won six of seven games at home on the opening weekend of Coast League play. The only setback was Grossmont’s 36-35 loss in overtime to Compton.

Three days later Grossmont beat San Diego, 41-40, on Herbie Fennel’s free throw with three seconds remaining before a full house at Grossmont.

The Cardinals and Foothillers soon dropped off the pace, however, and San Diego assumed the lead, taking an 8-1 record into its final game against 6-2 Compton.

The Hilltoppers had edged the Tarbabes, 34-27, early in league play but Compton prevailed in the rematch, 31-29 and then defeated Muir, 50-48, to forge a tie for the title.


One San Diego report declared that Compton and San Diego would flip a coin to determine the champion, but another said the winner of the teams’ first-round meeting in the Beverly Hills Tournament would determine the league’s sole playoff representative.

The Hillers came up flat, losing, 55-33, and closed out a 15-7 season.  Grossmont signed off at 10-8, Hoover at 9-11, and St. Augustine at 11-6.

John Davidson, curator of Junipero Museum in Presidio Park, has bird’s eye view of unusual sight, water in the San Diego River near channel leading to sea.


The dateline said San Diego, not somewhere in northern Minnesota, or numerous other wintry outposts.

Snow had forced postponement of two games.

That is not a misprint.

In the dead of winter a couple high school basketball contests in San Diego County were called off because of the flaky white stuff.

Southern Prep League games sending Brown Military to Mountain Empire in Campo and Vista to Julian could not be played “because of bad traveling conditions,” according to The San Diego Union on Jan. 14, 1949.

Five feet of snow in the higher elevations, the newspaper reported, “silenced rural telephone circuits so completely that the Police Department rushed a mobile radio transmitter to Julian to establish an emergency communications center.”

Down below the 4,000-foot elevation the coastline was hit with storm waves that caused damage to small craft and wreaked havoc on the beaches along U.S. 101.

San Diego rainfall totals were almost two inches above normal.

A view of the San Diego River from the Junipero Serra museum in Presidio Park showed water runoff to the ocean for the first time in three years.


Eight of the 11 San Diego-area teams in the 23-team, two-division, second annual Kiwanis Tournament were defeated in the first round of the three-day event at San Diego, Hoover, and San Diego State.

Hoover played twice on the first day, defeating Long Beach Poly, 34-31, and then lost to Beverly Hills, 22-18.

San Diego, outed by Long Beach Wilson, 36-33, came back to win the Unlimited Division consolation title, 43-27 over La Jolla.  Chula Vista defeated Oceanside, 23-20, for the Limited Division conso’ crown.

Sweetwater won the Limited Division championship, 40-24, over Brawley.  El Monte trimmed Beverly Hills, 60-40, for the Unlimited title.

San Diego’s Bob McClurg and Eddie Simpson made the all-tournament team.  Simpson scored 42 points in the 4 games.  Jim Loews of El Monte was leading scorer with 56.


While the Metropolitan and Southern Prep leagues got ready for league openers, the three Coast League locals went north to Compton College for the annual Western States Tournament.

San Diego topped Alhambra Mark Keppel, 45-37, and then went into the consolation bracket after a 43-37 loss to Los Angeles Mt. Carmel.  Hoover topped Long Beach Poly, 43-41, but lost to Compton, 48-36.

Grossmont fell to Mt. Carmel, 47-37, in the opening round.

The threesome were quickly sent back home from the losers’ bracket.  Long Beach St. Anthony nudged San Diego, 39-38, Long Beach Wilson nipped Hoover, 56-55, and Santa Barbara beat Grossmont, 50-44.


Alan Logan of Ramona had the highest reported individual scoring total with 30 points in a 40-25 win over Brown Military.  Bob (Bama) Shell scored 28 in St. Augustine’s 47-39 victory over Chula Vista.

Shell scored 23 points and Lou Kuslo 17 as the Saints defeated Los Angeles Cathedral in the Southland Catholic League event.

Shell was denied an opportunity to score more when Long Beach St. Anthony backed out of its own hoop carnival so team members and students could trek to the Los Angeles Coliseum to watch their football team play Santa Barbara for the Southern Section title.

Bob (Bama) Shell and Lou Kuslo (from left) pushed the ball for St. Augustine.


The timeworn maxim that “they couldn’t hit a bull in the — with a barn door” resonated with those watching a Grossmont junior high tournament middleweight division game.

Coronado shut out Ramona’s Mt. Woodson Mountain Lions, 37-0.


Sixteen-year-old Casey Moffet of Shelby, N.C., drove to the basket, missed a layup, and crashed through a wooden wall in a game against Waco, N.C.

Moffet penetrated the ½-inch plywood (?) barrier and fell 10 feet to the frozen clay surface outside the gym.  He sustained, head, shoulder, and arm injuries.


Ivan Robinson scored the winning basket for the San Diego High alumni against the Hilltoppers’ varsity and played the next night for the Alumni against the San Diego Junior College Knights…Vista defeated San Dieguito, 40-30, to gain a tie for the SPL title and then won a playoff, 34-31 over San Dieguito to earn the league’s playoff berth…future Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian was a starting guard for the Pasadena Bullpups…after opening with a victorious Coast League weekend, San Diego stumbled against Point Loma, 30-14, and St. Augustine, 42-33…the Saints won the sixth annual Coronado C  & D tournament, 21-9 over Hoover in the Cees and 18-17 over Coronado in the Dees…


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1947-48: McColl’s Haul

Rick : September 24, 2017 6:26 pm : Basketball

Bill McColl was working on the second leg of a football-basketball-baseball “triple crown.”

The 6-foot, 3-inch, 200-pounder was bound for  an all-America career at Stanford University and an eight-season stint as an end with the Chicago Bears of the NFL, followed by a post-athletic career as an orthopedic surgeon that included three years as a missionary doctor in Korea.

But first things first.

McColl, a strapping 200-pounder, moved easily with or without ball.

McColl made three all-Southern California teams, in football, basketball, and baseball (equaled only by Bonita’s Glenn Davis in 1942-43, and Pomona’s Marty Keough in 1951-52), and McColl managed to help coach Raleigh Holt’s track team as a high  hurdler and low hurdler when not crushing high school fastballs offered by Coast League pitchers in the spring.

McColl is remembered most for his football achievements but he was the most important figure in the Cardinals’ postwar, 57-23 run and one of the leading scorers in Southern California this season as the Cardinals posted a 20-8 record.

McColl scored 398 points for a 14.2 average, outstanding for the era, and he held the school record until 1957-58, when Norris Greenwood scored 446 points, as field goal percentage was improving everywhere and the game was evolving.


The first annual Southern California Invitational Basketball Tournament, better known as the Kiwanis Tournament, sponsored by local clubs of that name, became part of the area basketball scene.

Sixteen teams, including Northern visitors Compton, Long Beach Wilson, Redondo Beach Redondo, Inglewood, and Santa Monica, participated.

McColl set the tone for Hoover with 24 points in a 45-25, opening-round victory over La Jolla and the Cardinals went on to the championship, defeating St. Augustine, 41-33, Wilson, 46-42, and San Diego, 36-26.

Danny Newport’s 17 points helped San Diego defeat Compton, 39-37, in overtime and force the all-local finals.

Santa Monica routed Kearny, 75-16, for the most team points, and Sweetwater’s Fred Stafford went McColl one better with 25 points in a 54-21 rout of Kearny.

The victories were the high point of the season for the Cardinals and San Diego.

Hoover was runner-up to Compton in Coast League play with a 6-2 record.  San Diego, 16-9 overall, fell to 3-5 in the league.

San Diego defeated Hoover, 39-34, for third place in the Western States tournament at Compton College.  Compton was a 40-37 winner over Whittier for the championship.

The Tarbabes were eliminated in the semifinal round of the Southern Section playoffs by Ventura, 45-38.  Whittier edged Ventura, 45-36, for the title.

Hoover’s season ended when it was upset by Ontario Chaffey, 29-19, in the first round of the Beverly Hills Tournament.

All-Western States Tournament team included San Diego’s Ernie Smith (left) and Danny Newport (fifth from left) and Hoover’s Bill McColl (third from left). Courtesy, John Dahlem.


It happened often in basketball around the middle of January when midterm graduation took place.

Sweetwater, consolation bracket champion by virtue of a 51-42 win over La Jolla in the Kiwanis, jumped to a 4-0 start in the Metropolitan League.

But standouts Fred Stafford and Wylie Huffman were lost to graduation and the Red Devils, under first-year coach Bill (Red) Burrows, flattened out to 5-3 as Coronado raced to the title with a 7-1 record.

Burrows, who had coached football and track at Mountain Empire in 1946, quickly learned the vicissitudes of basketball.  The Red Devils dropped their next game after Stafford’s and Huffman’s departures, 36-32 in overtime to Point Loma.

Coronado slipped into first place on the same day with a 31-27, overtime win against La Jolla.


There were no small schools playoffs, so Coronado and San Dieguito, the Southern Prep League champion, were slotted into a 16-team major division tournament.

The Islanders (13-7) bowed to El Centro Central, 30-26, in the second round. San Dieguito (12-11) fell to Whittier, the eventual champion, 53-26.


Hoover converted 16 of 32 shots from the field to Compton’s 11 of 32 and, led by McColl’s 18 points, earned a Coast League split with the champion Tarbabes, 38-31. 


Basketball had become a dynamic, modern game since Dr. John Naismith found use for a spheroid and a couple peach baskets in 1891.

Catholic Tournament found more roomy environs at Olympic Auditorium.

But tiny gyms continued to be a part of the fabric and romance of the sport.  None apparently more tiny than Los Angeles’ Mt. Carmel High.

That’s where St. Augustine’s traveling Saints were participants in an almost comic situation in the Southland Catholic postseason tournament.

The Saints were members of the league in football but independents in basketball, although they played many of their games against league entries.

St. Augustine trailed Los Angeles Cathedral, 35-34, as the clock wound down in a first-round game.

The Saints’ Julie Zolezzi launched an arching, half-court set shot over a Phantoms defender in the final second of play.

Zolezzi’s shot struck an overhead rafter, recharted its trajectory, and found the basket, swishing through.

Saints win, 37-36?

The game referee disallowed the basket in what The San Diego Union described as a “touchy” decision.

St. Augustine recovered to defeat Santa Monica St. Monica’s, 44-21, to reach the consolation bracket finals, and then lost to Long Beach St. Anthony, 60-45.

Lou Kuslo led the Saints’ offense.

The last two games were conducted without incident at a more expansive venue, the 10,000-seat Olympic Auditorium wrestling-boxing emporium.

The Saints concluded a 10-11 season, with Lou Kuslo their leading scorer with 230 points in 20 games, 11.5 average.


San Diego canceled a December game with San Bernardino because the team wanted to join other students in going to Los Angeles to watch the Hilltoppers’ CIF football championship contest with Santa Monica.


Grossmont players voted to reverse their 41-39, three-overtime victory over Kearny and the Komets were declared 36-35 winners, as announced by Grossmont principal Lewis Smith.

Game officials Art Stone and Ed Ruffa did not know the rules of overtime.

Kearny scored a free throw near the end of the first extra session of three minutes and thought it was a 36-35 winner on its home court, the Linda Vista Community Center.

Ruffa and Stone, however, ruled that a game could not be won in overtime by one point.

Family relocation deprived Cannon of possible scoring title.

That was the officials’ first error and it was a whopper.

A second overtime was played, ending in a deadlock at 39.

Grossmont scored first in the third, “sudden death” extra session and went home with an apparent, 41-39 win.

Ruffa and Stone had goofed again when they allowed the third overtime.

Rules were that the second overtime should have been sudden death. Grossmont would have been a 38-36 “winner”.

Kudos to Grossmont.  Sportsmanship won out.


After much discussion, Grossmont was essentially ousted from the Metropolitan League, effective at the end of the school year, and would be joining Coast League in 1948-49.

Metro schools wanted no part of the Foothillers, with their huge enrollment (more than 2,000 to others’ about 500) advantage, their domination in the postwar era and the unwieldy, nine teams  of the existing league.

Several meetings and proposals took place from Jan. 14, 1948, until a decision was reached on Feb. 7:

–A Southern Section committee initially recommended that Grossmont leave the Metro after other league schools complained.

–Grossmont  reportedly rejected the CIF proposal and suggested a 10-team Metro of two divisions, divided by enrollment. Division winners would meet in a one-game playoff to determine a champion.

–Since there were nine teams, a 10th  “Team X”, would have to be selected at the league meeting in February.  A  subcommittee was formed to determine the feasibility of San Dieguito’s or St. Augustine’s becoming members.

–Grossmont honchos finally agreed to the Southern Section recommendation/demand and said bon voyage to the Metro and would join the Coast League.

The Foothillers would be part of the old, once-powerful Coast until San Diego schools formed the City Prep League in 1950.

–Grossmont was in the CPL until returning to the Metro in 1954 and finally became part of the new Grossmont circuit in 1961.


The Midway Drive-In Theater on West Point Loma Boulevard celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 4, 1948.

The Midway, one of the earliest outdoor venues in the United States, drew more than 500,000 customers, according to manager Robert Shure.

Some pedestrian “customers” could watch from the fencing outside the theater, speakers provided by management.


Wally Piekarski, all of 5 feet, 5 inches, scored 91 points in Chicago Tilden Technical’s 122-22 victory over Paul Dunbar High.


Hoover’s was 4-1 against San Diego…the teams played a nonleague game, a Kiwanis Tournament encounter, another in the Western States tournament, and two Coast League contests…Coronado did not enter the Kiwanis Tournament, instead scheduling a squad from the navy’s USS El Dorado which whipped the Islanders, 54-23… More than 1,400 persons were on hand as Grossmont defeated Point Loma, 35-32, in a Point Loma home game at San Diego High…the Pointers’ expansive, 1,800-seat venue, with a balcony, would not open until the 1949-50 season…more than 1,500 showed up at San Diego the following evening as Hoover, behind Bill McColl’s 19 points, defeated the Hilltoppers, 32-23…future San Diego coaching legends Les Cassie (Hoover) and Duane Maley (San Diego) matched wits in the B game, won by Hoover, 32-30…Charles Cannon of Grossmont led the Metropolitan League in  scoring through six games with a 13.1 average but was denied a chance to win the title when he moved back to Midwest with his family with two games remaining…Sweetwater’s Lester Stephens, one of four to pass Cannon, won the title with a 11.9 average, 95 points in 8 games…San Diego defeated Coronado, 17-16, to win Class C and Coronado topped Hoover, 11-10, in Class D in the fifth annual Coronado Lightweight tournament…football-track star Ernie Smith of San Diego also could hoop, moving into the Hillers’ starting lineup immediately after the football finals…Smith was the Cavers’ single-game high leader when he scored 23 points in a 40-34 win over Pasadena Muir…

San Diego’s Ernie Smith contests rebound by Hoover’s Don Metzler.

Hilbert Crosthwaite, with forward Neal Packer, posted 14-5 record in first season at Point Loma.

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1959-60: Helix in Tough Loss; Point Loma Surprises

Rick : September 18, 2017 2:49 pm : Basketball

San Diego was leaving the Southern Section at the end of the school year but was going out with an unprecedented show of force.

Hoover was ranked No. 1 and Helix No. 2 in seeding for the 32-team major playoffs.  Glendale, beaten by both Hoover and San Diego, was seeded fourth.

Hoover’s undefeated regular season and the high scoring Highlanders had earned the respect of Southern Section commissioner Ken Fagans, who’d won championships as coach of the dominant Compton Tarbabes in the early ‘fifties.

But the Cardinals and their neighbors in La Mesa eight miles to the East were beaten by the two teams that would play for the title, third-seeded Anaheim (search 1959-60: Cardinals Come Up Short at Finish Line) and unseeded Long Beach Poly.

Helix was beaten, 50-48, at Poly in the quarterfinals, bringing an end to a record-setting, 26-4 season and to the career of coach Bob Divine, who had announced in January that he was stepping down to go into administration.

Divine’s timing was curious, coming in the middle of the season (“This basketball can make an old man of you, the way I coach,” he explained). His team’s sometimes uneven play also was curious.


Helix set a County record by averaging 67.9 points a game, breaking the mark of 64.6 set by St. Augustine in 1957-58.

They trailed host San Diego at the half, 36-13, and won, 52-50.

They lost at Hoover, 61-36, the next evening.

–They switched gears after losing the pre-Kiwanis Tournament game to Hoover and poked along on offense so effectively that the score was 33-30 late in the fourth quarter before the Cardinals prevailed again, 39-30.

Coach Bob Divine’s high-scoring Highlanders, from left: Clayton Raaka, Larry Cook, Bob Mackey, Wally Hartwell, and Jim (Bones) Bowers.

They topped Santa Barbara, 65-62, to win the 11th annual Fillmore Tournament in Ventura County after Christmas.

Jim (Bones) Bowers scored 25 points in the Fillmore final and was player of the tournament. Teammates Bob Mackey, Wally Hartwell, and Larry Cook joined Bowers on the all-tournament team.

They defeated middle-of-the-road (12-11) Chula Vista, 49-26, at home but had a 14-game winning streak snapped at Chula Vista, 55-46, depriving the Scots of what would have been a 16-0 run through the Metropolitan League.

Bowers led all scorers with 670 points,

Bowers, who led the area in scoring with a 22.9 average and 670 points in 30 games,  set a school record with 44 points in a 98-54 win over first-year El Capitan.

Helix had other games of 99 and 94 points and set a County record when it shot 64 per cent from the field in a 114-65 romp over the Vaqueros as Bowers (34) and Clayton Raaka (24) set the pace.


Helix defeated 13-8 Lincoln, 59-46, in the postseason first round and 16-11 Ontario Chaffey, 67-49, in the second round, played at Mount Miguel High.  The crowd outside the gymnasium was almost as large as the standing-room gathering of 1,200 inside.

Helix took an 18-13 lead over Poly in the quarterfinals, but the resourceful Jackrabbits, a notoriously poor shooting team but quick and tough on defense, pulled ahead, 23-21, at the half.

After taking a 29-28 lead in the third quarter, the Highlanders “lost control of the boards and were shabby with their ball handling”, according to the Union correspondent at the game.

Bowers, who had scored 10 points in the first quarter, finished with 19.  Poly defenders double-teamed Bowers and Raaka, who scored nine points, well below his average, and ignored the other three Helix starters.

The strategy worked.

Helix trailed, 49-48, with 30 seconds remaining, but the Jackrabbits’ Tom Sisk made one of two free throws to close out the win.


After losing to Glendale Hoover, 51-40, on Friday San Diego recovered to defeat Glendale and CIF player-of-the-year Tom Dose the next night, 57-49.

Willie Bolton, Ernest (Moe) Watson, and Lou Scott, who had played in the Cavers’ 53-0, football championship victory against Monrovia the night before, made the trip north the next day and saw action that evening.

San Diego’s 11-10 record was its poorest since a 6-8 record in 1934-35, but the Cavers not only trimmed high playoff seed Glendale on the road but were ahead of CIF champion Long Beach Poly before losing in the final seconds, 40-39.


San Diego overcame favored Lincoln with a 14-4 spurt in three minutes of the fourth quarter and defeated the Hornets, 64-59, in what Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union described as a “pell-mell” game in front of a shrieking crowd on the Hornets’ floor.

Alfred Willis, the younger brother of Cavers guard Albert Willis came out of the stands and launched a punch at Lincoln’s Al Catlin, who had been aggressively guarding the older Willis.

Lincoln coach Warren Barritt rushed off the bench and literally back-pedaled Catlin to the end of the gym as referees Doug Harvey and Nolan Harvey sought to maintain order.

San Diego’s victory was achieved despite coach Dick Otterstad’s suspending leading scorer Ben Pargo, who was not at the game.

Football star H.D. Murphy and Watson each scored 17 points as the normally offensively erratic Cavers controlled the backboards and shot 44 per cent on 26×58 shooting.  Lincoln was 23×44 for 52 per cent.

San Diego’s usual starting lineup, from left: Ben Pargo, Willie Bolton, Larry Martin,  Albert Willis, and Ernest (Moe) Watson.


Western League teams were slotted into small schools playoff participation in all sports except football.  Eastern League teams would compete with large schools for all postseason sports.

The positioning was result of the City Prep League’s dividing into two circuits after the 1958-59 school year.

Point Loma, with a 5-8 record at one point in the season and 12-10 after clinching the Western League championship, was the postseason beneficiary.

The Pointers rolled to five consecutive victories to claim the Class AA crown, along the way defeating Beaumont, 32-24, Yucaipa, 55-23, Rosemead Bosco Tech, 54-37, Lompoc, 54-40, and, finally, San Marino, 52-36.

As Jerry Magee wrote, paraphrasing Britain’s World War II leader Winston Churchill, “Winston (Winnie) Yetta enjoyed his finest hour, scoring 22 points…”

Point Loma players hoisted Yetta and coach Hilbert Crosthwaite and paraded them around the floor at the Los Angeles State venue.

Winston Yetta (left) and Don Sada both played quarterback in football, although Yetta was point guard for Pointers’ basketball team.

Yetta’s 10 field goals were reflective of the Pointers’ effectiveness.  They converted 21 of 44 attempts for 48 per cent.

After two disappointing losses for San Diego teams in the semifinals, Crosthwaite admitted to feeling some pressure.

“We had everything to lose,” said the coach.  “We couldn’t have walked out of here if we hadn’t won.”


Helix’ Clayton Raaka was able to shed a cast on his broken left hand and burst out in a 68-38 win over Escondido.  Raaka scored 15 points in the second quarter, had 20 at the half, and finished with 28.


Lincoln’s Al Catlin was discovered to have played the entire season with a broken wrist on his right, shooting hand  that he sustained during the football season.  Catlin then was ruled out of the Hornets’ 59-46 playoff loss to Helix.


Hilltop, a first-year school, emerged  to post a 20-9 record and win the post-Christmas Chino Tournament and Metropolitan League title.

Hilltop’s 20-9 record was due to presence of Charlie Schneider, Butch Lorson, Robbie Hewitt, Gary Neal, and Don Enos (from left).


San Dieguito, aided by some legislation, clinched the Avocado League championship with a 63-43 win over Carlsbad as John Fairchild, a 6-foot-7 sharpshooter up from the junior varsity, scored 15 points.

The Mustangs’ earlier, 64-54 loss to Oceanside had become a forfeit win after discovery of an ineligible Oceanside player and gave the Mustangs a one-game lead over Mar Vista.


San Dieguito led until the final 56 seconds before bowing at Bing Crosby Hall in Del Mar to Orange, 46-45, in Class AA.

Orange was outscored, 24-18, in the fourth quarter but held on to defeat Kearny, 64-63, in a second-round game at Santa Ana.

Army-Navy’s Matt Burnett stole an inbound pass and scored with two seconds remaining to defeat Tustin, 42-40 in  Class A.  The Warriors then were eliminated, 60-38, by San Bernardino Aquinas.

Ramona was sidelined in Placentia by host Valencia, 62-39, the loss punctuated by a scoreless third quarter.

Al Catlin, T.W. (Tommy) Bell, and Ashley Joerndt (from left) comprised Lincoln coach Warren Barritt’s big three.


The Kiwanis Tournament individual scoring record was broken twice on the first night…Carlsbad’s Bob Wueste scored 40 in a 61-53 win over La Jolla…St. Augustine’s Jacob Crawford knocked down 42 points  an hour later in an 83-40 win over Sweetwater…finals in the Unlimited and Limited divisions were held at one venue for the first time …Hoover was host and topped Crawford, 54-34, for the Unlimited and Mar Vista edged Oceanside, 51-49, for the Limited…for the first time there were no visiting northern teams in the tournament, only El Centro Central from the Imperial Valley… Helix’ 114-point game bettered the  record set by St. Augustine in a 105-34 win over La Jolla in 1957-58…St. Augustine’s Jacob Crawford missed the team bus to Hoover, arrived late, and scored three points in the first half…the Saints, trailing, 35-12, at halftime made a game of it, outscoring Hoover in the second half, 39-38, and Crawford finished with 25 points in the 73-51 loss…Julian, scoreless until one minute remaining in the half, bowed to San Miguel School, 38-22…Fallbrook scored the first 22 points in a 51-18 win over University…Chula Vista received two technical fouls for not advancing the ball in the offensive court in its 49-26 loss to Helix…the Spartans trailed, 5-0, after one quarter and 16-1 at the half…the Spartans went into a freeze in their next game against Hilltop and got into a 15-2 hole…Hilltop won, 58-48…Mission Bay won a double-overtime, 57-55 game against La Jolla when a Vikings player was cited for goal-tending in the second, sudden-death period…Chula Vista moved out of the city’s Recreation Center into its own gym in midseason…Hilltop had a gymnasium when it opened its doors in September…Kearny coach Jim Poole, a 1950 Point Loma grad, was a national badminton champion and worked 20 years as an NFL game official…The Crawford-San Diego, Eastern League contest served as the preliminary to the San Diego Junior College-East Los Angeles Metropolitan Conference contest…the game at San Diego High featured ex-Cavers Arthur (Hambone) Williams and Edward Lee Johnson for the Knights….

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1959-60: Hoover Comes Up Short at Finish Line

Rick : September 13, 2017 6:05 pm : Basketball

Seldom was a defeat as disappointing as that which knocked out Hoover in the semifinals of San Diego’s swansong in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

The Cardinals sustained a numbing, 39-34 loss to Anaheim in the semifinals round in a season when they were unbeaten for 26* straight games.

Coach Charlie Hampton had returned several key players from the 20-7 club of 1958-59, including twin towers 6-foot, 7 ½ inch Walt Ramsey and 6-5 Bill Wylie.

Ramsey and Wylie were joined again by John Bocko a sharpshooting 6-foot forward, and 6-foot, 1-inch Johnny (Bo) Williams, the glue in Hoover’s backcourt.

Baseball ace Dave Morehead moved up from the junior varsity and became the only underclass starter.

The Cardinals’ almost perfect season:


Unlike usually pliant, slightly out-of-shape graduates, the former Cardinals were competitive, losing, 46-42. Ramsey led the varsity with 19 points.

Norris Greenwood, who set a school single-season scoring record of 446 points in 1957-58 and had moved on to Cal Western University, played for the alums along with former first stringers Tommy Dobyns, Art Samuel, Wayne Britt, Harry Stadnyk, and Bill Lee.

Hoover players Dave Morehead, Bill Wylie, John (Bo) Williams, Walt Ramsey, and John Bocko (from left) give coach Charlie Hampton a boost after finishing regular season with 23-0 record.



The Foothillers couldn’t find the basket and trailed, 25-5. at halftime. Ramsey scored 25 points.

3—HOOVER 61, HELIX 36, @San Diego.

Surprising, actually shocking, was this win over a team considered by some to be the best in the area.  Helix had all of its weapons intact, including high scoring Jim (Bones) Bowers and Clayton Raaka.   Ramsey (20), Bocko (11), Norm Potter (10) led the way.


The Cardinals and San Diego High made December trips north for several years.  The favored Glendale Dynamiters featured 6-5 Tom Dose, destined to be Southern Section player of the year, but Wylie (20), Ramsey (17), and Bocko (14) kept the hosts and Dose (15) at a distance.


The Cardinals pulled away the next night after leading 39-33 at halftime.   Bocko scored 23 and Williams 19.



Hampton emptied his bench as 12 players scored and 14 saw action in the opening round of the 12th annual event.


The Komets’ Jim Johnson led all scorers with 19 points but that was offset by Ramsey’s 17, Bocko’s 15, and 11 by  Morehead.

Hampton’s tape measure showed that Ramsey had an inch or two on Dave Sickels.

8—HOOVER 39, HELIX 30.

The Highlanders switched gears and played a slow-down game, this after Helix set an Unlimited Division record with 99 points the day before.


Crawford, in its first year under coach Jim Sams, who would go on to compile one of the San Diego section’s all-time coaching records, took an 8-1 record into the contest.

The Cardinals’ stiff, man-to-man defense kept the Colts scoreless from the field for more than 10 minutes beginning with the start of the third quarter.

In winning its first Kiwanis Tournament since the inaugural event in 1948, the Cardinals’ average victories were by a score of 54-29.


The Cardinals stepped into the Western League for their last pre-Eastern League competition.

As it had been most of the season the refrain of Bocko and Ramsey, Ramsey and Bocko was heard as John scored 20 and Walt 13.


The Cardinals opened the Eastern campaign against the 4-3 Hornets, a talented team that hadn’t lived to its so-called potential under first-year coach Warren Barritt.

In a gritty struggle, Hoover finally put Lincoln away on Williams’ 30-foot jump shot with 3 seconds left.

Williams scored 24 points as Hoover survived.  Bill Wylie was out with a leg infection.  Hampton was “barely audible” from effects of the flu, and Ramsey, battling the flu, played only one quarter and scored one point.

Norm Potter, 6-2, and Dave Sickels, 6-5, replaced Ramsey and Wylie.  Lincoln’s Joe Cisterna sustained a possible shoulder separation and was hospitalized.

The Cardinals made only 18 of 50 shots from the field for 36 per cent.  Lincoln, behind T.W. (Tommy) Bell’s 24 points, shot 43 per cent, 19×43.


The recovered Wylie led with 15 points and 10 other Cardinals scored.

*(Did Hoover finish the regular season with 24 consecutive wins, as has always been accepted, or was their total actually 23?

(The number appears to be 23.

(Published reports were that the 11-0 Cardinals were scheduled to play only Crawford in the second week of league play.   There was no record of a second game that week or a 13th win.

(The San Diego Union’s weekly, Monday morning rundown of standings, however, listed the Cardinals with a 13-0 record, although the Union’s weekly individual and team statistics were for 12 games).


Biggest crowd of year, probably 1,600 including standees, at Hoover.   Hampton’s team collected its first victory over San Diego since 1956-57.  Williams and Bocko scored 18 points each.

The 1959-60 Hoover Cardinals, front tow (from left): Rich Keely, Dave Morehead, Gene Crise, Nick Barkett, Johnny Williams, Walt Daniels. Back row (from left): Carlos Avina, Norm Potter, Dave Sickels, Walt Ramsey, Bill Wylie, John Bocko.


The newspaper reported this as the Cardinals’ 15th win in a row. The Union would be one game ahead of Hoover for the rest of the season.


Wylie was picking up steam, connecting on 12 of 17 shots for 25 points and the Cardinals converted 23 of 43 shots for 53 per cent.  Walt Ramsey scored one point and fouled out with 5:25 left in the game.


Ten players scored, with Wylie (26), Bocko (17), and Ramsey (13) leading the parade.


The Cardinals apparently were not excited at the prospect of playing a first-year school with a 6-9 record, in its first game in a new gymnasium, and in the afternoon.

The seemingly disinterested East San Diegans were guided by John Bocko’s 20 points. Ramsey added 17 and Wylie 15.

18—HOOVER 66, @LINCOLN 52.

The  Redbirds began the second round of league play with a convincing win at usually troublesome Lincoln. The Cardinals had beaten the Hornets five times by three points or less in the last three seasons.

Hoover converted only 37 per cent of field-goal attempts to Lincoln’s 40 but it commanded the backboards with 61 shots to 52 and with a 30-20 advantage in rebounds.

“Our all-around best effort,” said Hampton, who cautioned that if Hoover (6-0 in the Eastern) fell to San Diego in a couple weeks, “The race could end in a tie.”


They were scoreless for the first four minutes and then solved Crawford’s zone defense, with all five starters scoring at least 10 points.


Hampton picked up a late-season, nonleague game with the visitors from Imperial Valley.  All 12 players on each team saw action.

21—HOOVER 59, @SAN DIEGO 43.

The floundering Cavemen were never really in it, trailing 52-28 after three quarters. Hoover’s Big Three scored 48 of the 59 points.


Kenny Hale, whom Charlie Hampton had replaced at Hoover in 1952-53, had retired  after beginning the Mission Bay program, and the Buccaneers, contenders in the previous three seasons, were not competitive.

Bill Wylie, with John Williams trailing, scored over Crawford’s Garr Jacobsen.

Bucs coach Paul  Beck inherited a team minus such recent standouts as Doug Crockett, Frank Schiefer, Tom Tenney, Jerry Dinsmore, and Bill Cravens.


“Unbeaten, untied, unawed,” wrote Jerry Magee of The San Diego Union of the Cardinals, who concluded an 8-0 league season and 23-0 regular season.

Hoover led, 35-12, at the half after  stunning the Saints with a 21-4 second quarter.


24—HOOVER 76, HILLTOP 58.  The first-year Lancers, coached by the taciturn Paul Pruett, who had success at San Dieguito, posted a 20-win season and won the Chino tournament.

The Chula Vistans were game but not ready for prime time.

Hilltop still was in the contest when it trailed, 61-50, midway in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals eased to the win behind Ramsey’s 25 points, and 18 each by Bocko and Williams.

Writer John MacDonald identified the Hoover back court as “Don” Williams and “John” Morehead.

25—HOOVER 60, COVINA 50,@Walnut.

Writer Magee said the Covina Colts resisted like a young bronc at neutral Mt. San Antonio Junior College in nearby Walnut.

Shorter Covina (23-7), with no starter taller than 6 feet, 3 inches, were coached by the legendary Windorf (Doc) Sooter, who won 647 games from 1947-72.

The Colts took an early, 11-5 lead and battled the Cardinals throughout, but Ramsey hitting jumpers and scoring under the hoop, logged 22 points and kept the Colts reined in.

Hoover, knocking down 50 per cent of its shots in the late regular season, may have felt playoff pressure in the unfamiliar environment, converting only 19 of 53 shots for 36 per cent to Covina’s 18×54 and 30 per cent.

Covina set screens for jump shooter Jerry Barron.  Wylie sat with 4 personals with 6:13 left in third.

The story was similar to a 68-57, 1956 playoff loss to Montebello, when the Cardinals got into foul trouble trying to check jump shooting Jerry Pimm.

Hampton had to shift to a zone defense early in the third period. It was the first time this season Hoover had to abandon its favorite, man-for-man barricade.

Sooter wouldn’t say Hoover was toughest team he faced, “but they were toughest on the backboards.  They were too big for us.”

Hampton declared the contest was his team’s poorest effort of the season.  “Mainly because this was the best defensive team we had played.

“Our boys may have been scared,” added the surprisingly candid Hampton.  “I told them how tough Covina was so often I may have scared them.”

Dave Morehead (left) was able complement to John Williams in back court.


Monrovia, routed 53-0 by San Diego in the football finals, brought a 20-4 record and a loss to Covina to Hoover.

Hoover led, 12-4, at the end of the first quarter and scored only 11 points in the second and third.

Monrovia played at agonizingly slow pace and the Wildcats’ 6-7 Les Christensen scored 15 points, controlled most of the tips, and held Walt Ramsey to 6 points.

Ramsey ran into foul trouble again, acquiring his fourth with 2:13 left in the half.   With the visitors pressing at 22-20 in the third quarter, Hampton called on Ramsey, went into a zone defense, and pulled away.

27—ANAHEIM 39, HOOVER 34, @Los Angeles State.

“A basketball team which has won 27 (sic) straight games can’t possibly be in a slump…” wrote Jerry Magee, but Hampton was worried.

“We certainly haven’t played as well in the playoffs as during the season, but I think it has been more of a mental thing than a physical thing,” the coach told Magee.

Hampton went on to say, “We weren’t up for Hilltop.  In the next two games (Covina and Monrovia) we were a little tense, more nervous than we should have been.”

Hampton concluded with “we’ve had two of our better practices.  The boys have acted a lot better the last two days.”

Sunset League champion Anaheim won its 29th game against one loss in a 38-36 quarterfinals game against Santa Barbara that was decided in the last two seconds.  That win followed  a double-overtime, 50-49 victory over Montebello and a 50-47  triumph against Long Beach Wilson.

The Colonists, as they did versus Santa Barbara,  continued to  travel slowly but in style.

Magee wrote that “Hoover manfully struggled back (from a 25-12 halftime deficit) even with its 6-7 center, Walt Ramsey, out early in the third period with five fouls.”

With Wylie and Bocko scoring, Hoover pulled into a tie at 34 with 5:08 remaining.

But Anaheim continued its strategic pattern.  The Cardinals scrambled for possession and fouled.

The Colonists scored the last five points on free throws, winning, 39-34, and advancing to the finals and losing to Long Beach Poly, 46-39.

28–VENTURA 53, HOOVER 50, @Los Angeles State.

Beaten by Poly in the other semifinal, 65-56, Ventura trailed Hoover, 50-45, with 4:11 to go in the third place game the next evening.

The Cardinals went scoreless the rest of the way and dropped a 53-50 decision.


Jerry Magee indicated that Hampton, in the coach’s playoff postmortem, seemed to suggest that a rule similar to NBA’s 24-second shot clock should be passed down to the high schools.

“There should be something that should make a team shoot,” said the coach.  “I wanted to go into a zone against Anaheim to protect against fouling but if I had I think Anaheim would have been content to just stand there.”

“Every coach thinks this, but I still think we had the best team,” said Hampton.


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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.

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