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.
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.
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.
“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….
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