1953-54: Spartans Footballers Get Basketball Legs

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.


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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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2017: Charles Sanford, Anchor of Cavers’ Great Relay Squad

Charles Sanford finished the perfect race.

Etched in my memory: Edwards Stadium, Berkeley, 1963 state track meet, final event, 880-yard relay. San Diego High against the field at the end of the two-day program.

Sanford and teammates Walter (Buddah) Blackledge, Gordon Baker, and Raymond Dixon, were considered one of the better entries coming into the meet with a best time of 1:27.2, but there were other, more favored teams  from the Los Angeles City and Southern sections.

Sanford, who passed away at age 72 recently, was an attacking sprinter, grinding out his races with each stride, and the best at San Diego High since the days of Roscoe Cook and Bobby Staten a decade before.

Sanford had set a San Diego Section record of :09.6 in the 100-yard dash the week before and had a best of :19.2 in the 180-yard low hurdles.

He qualified in neither event in the Friday trials  but was fresh and ready for the baton chase the next day.

The Cavers got off to a good start when Blackledge came out of the blocks with a :22-flat first 220, handing off to Gordon Baker, who put some distance between himself and the pack with a :21.3 second leg.

Gordon Baker, Charles Sanford, Walter (Buddah) Blackledge, and Raymond Dixon (from left) reached perfection in 1963.

Baker a sometimes erratic sprinter-quartermiler, ran  the most important leg, because he was able to make the second pass from the pole position to Dixon.

With the posse in hot pursuit, Dixon held the inside lane, running his furlong in :21.7, and maintaining  Baker’s lead as Dixon passed to  Sanford.

Anchor man Sanford closed with a :21.3 leg, increasing San Diego’s winning advantage  to about five yards.

The Cavers had covered the distance in 1:26.3, second fastest in the country that year; almost one second faster than they had run the week before,  and bettered the record they had shared with the 1957 Cook-Staten-Charles Davis-Willie Jordan team.

Los Angeles Manual Arts was second in 1:26.8.

What I remember most were the flawless handoffs as the Cavers protected the baton amid the pressure of  flying spikes, and streaking bodies in a high-powered race.

Sanford, who also was a football standout at San Diego, will be honored in a funeral service Monday, April 3, at 11 a.m. at Missionary Baptist Church in Logan Heights.




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1943-44: Ivan the Terrible, Not

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.


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.


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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2016-17 State Championship: Singer has seen all of Helix’ Best

John Singer has seen the greatest Helix teams from the bench.

He was an underclassman reserve on the 1969-70 squad led by Bill Walton that posted a 33-0 record and is regarded  as not only the best team to come out of the La Mesa foothills but the all-time No. 1 in San Diego County.

Singer’s also the coach, and the winner of 679 games in 36 seasons at Helix, of this season’s team, which will play Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent Saturday at 1 p.m. in the CIF state Division IV championship game at Sacramento’s Golden Center.

The Highlanders’ Scotty.

Helix is 31-5, and winner of 22 in a row.  It got to this point by prevailing in four successive games at home during the Southern California regional after earning a No. 2 seed following a championship run through the San Diego Section playoffs.

Walton competed  before San Diego Section teams were part of Southern California regional or state playoffs.

But that Helix team averaged 88 points a game, exceeded 100 points six times, and scored a 71-49 victory over Long Beach Millikan, the 1969-70 Southern Section champion, in  a December tournament in Covina.

Singer’s club outscored opponents by an average of 60-55 in a 9-5 December, but has not lost since Dec. 30 and are winning by an average score of 71-53 during that time.

The Scots were almost as effective against competition from outside San Diego, building an average advantage of 70-57 in the four regional games.

Vallejo St. Francis-St. Patrick of the North Coast Section is 27-7, won the Northern California regional, and outscored 4 opponents by an average of 82-43.

Helix and St. Patrick each is a bubble team in Cal-Hi Sports’ latest top state top 20, but the Bruins are ranked 37th in California by Max Preps and Helix is 69th.

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1942-43: It’s All About Victory

Galvanized Americans had Victory on their minds as the war moved into its second year.

San Diego school officials, living in the hub of the defense industry, pitched in.  They created the Victory League and put the Metropolitan League in a basketball drydock.

Call theirs a New Year’s Resolution.

Coronado coach Hal Niedermeyer had announced a Metro schedule of one round of nine games on December 10.

But on Jan. 12, when play got under way, the circuit had a new name, a positive acknowledgement of Uncle Sam’s rallying cry for Victory in Europe and Japan.

The Metro, born in 1933 and inclusive of the city’s and suburbs’ smaller schools, would not return until after the 1945-46 academic year.


Low fuel tanks and balding tires were by-products of the need for precious wartime materials.

Jim Glasson was one of key players for San Diego coach Merrill Douglas’ squad.

Necessary gas rationing and travel restrictions were such that the league did not include all members who competed in the similar Metropolitan loop during football season.

Victory travel would be by streetcar or bus.

Suburban Sweetwater and rural Escondido and Oceanside were forced to bail.

Night games were at the option of host schools.

As they did in football for the 1942 season, local titans San Diego High and Hoover split their squads.  Four teams included the San Diego Blues and Whites and the Hoover Reds and Whites.


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2016-17 Regionals:  Helix and Serra Reach Finals

The Helix boys and Serra girls are still in the hunt.

Both teams have reached the finals of the Southern California Regional playoffs, last step before the state championships March 24-25 at the Golden Center in Sacramento.

Helix (30-5), the No. 2 seed in Division IV, defeated Carson of the L.A. City Section, 56-53, for its 21st consecutive victory, 15th in a row at home, and now will play its fourth straight game as host, Saturday night at 6.

The Highlanders will take on Reedley Immanuel (23-8), with the winner meeting the Northern California champion, either Salinas Palma or Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent, which also play Saturday evening.

D-III six seed Serra (23-10) qualified to meet 1 seed Anaheim Rosary (28-5) after a 57-51 win over No. 2 Camarillo.


St. Augustine strived mightily against the taller and favored hosts from Santa Ana Mater Dei, but the Saints were only 6 for 22 in three-point attempts and committed 22 turnovers in a 63-57 loss.

Taeshon Cherry scored 25 points and had 11 rebounds for the San Diego club and was the best player on the floor.

The Saints should be back knocking on the door again in 2017-18.

Fourteen D-III seed Orange Glen’s unexpected ride came to an end when the Patriots were outscored, 17-7, in overtime and dropped a 72-62 decision at No. 2-ranked Villa Park.

Mission Hills was a 66-57 loser at Long Beach Poly and The Bishop’s, after a 315-mile ride, over the Grapevine and up Highway 99, were run off the floor by Clovis West, 73-31, in Girls’ Open Division contests.

Rancho Bernardo was a 57-49 loser to Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos in D-IV, and Olympian was ousted, 70-53, by Riverside Notre Dame in D-V.


With Cal-Hi Sports’ last rankings to be made after the state finals. San Diego’s representation could change.

St. Augustine had moved from seventh to fourth before the Mater Dei game and Torrey Pines was 15th in boys’ play.

Mission Hills was fourth in the girls’ rankings and The Bishop’s had jumped from unranked to 12th after upsetting Studio City Harvard-Westlake, 63-60, in the quarterfinals.


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2016-17: And Then There Were 8

The  Southern California regional of the state playoffs reached the semifinal round after San Diego Section teams qualified eight of the 17 teams it sent to the weekend quarterfinals.

All local boys and girls teams except Helix will be on the road Tuesday night.  The Highlanders (29-5), seeded No. 2 in Boys’ Division IV, play host to 3 seed Carson (23-6)  of the Los Angeles City Section.

Beginning with Open Division  6 seed St. Augustine (28-4), a scrappy, 88-81 winner over nationally regarded and Southern California third-ranked Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, all section teams except Helix will be in against favored clubs.

The Saints will try for the third time at No. 2 Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-2), having lost to the Monarchs, 86-62, in the Diablo Inferno at Mission Viejo on Dec. 3 and 74-62 at the Nike Extravaganza Feb. 4 at Mater Dei.

If there is a potential Cinderella, the D-IV Orange Glen Patriots are the top candidate at this juncture.

The 14 seed from east Escondido visits No. 2 Villa Park.  The Patriots are the South’s ranked squad still alive in  boys or girls.

The lowest overall  seed in the state still playing is Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman, a No. 15 in the Northern California D-II regional.  Eastlake, a 12 seed in D-V, visits No. 1 Riverside Notre Dame.

Helix, should it defeat Carson, would take on the winner of No. 1 Burbank (25-9)  and No. 5 Reedley Immanuel (22-8) on Saturday, March 18, at 6 p.m. If Burbank wins, the Bulldogs would host.  If Immanuel wins, Helix would host.


The Bishop’s (30-3), seeded fifth in the Open, will make the South regional’s longest trip, 368 miles, to face No. 1-ranked Clovis East (31-2).

Mission Hills (31-2), seeded  third in the Open, revisits 2 seed Long Beach Poly, which sent the Grizzlies home with a 58-41 loss in the first round of the 2015 regional.

The four Girls’ opponents are ranked 2, 1, 2, and 1.  One of those top-ranked squads is Camarillo, which represents a 175-mile trip for No. 6 Serra.


Division Team Opponent
Open 6 St. Augustine (28-4) @2 Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-2)
III 14 Orange Glen (23-9) @2 Villa Park, 25-6
IV 2 Helix (29-5) 3 Carson (23-6)


Division Team Opponent
Open 3 Mission Hills (30-2) @ 2 Long Beach Poly (25-3)
5 The Bishop’s (30-3) @1 Clovis West (31-2)
III 6 Serra (22-10) @2 Camarillo (30-3)
IV 4 Rancho Bernardo (23-6) @1 Rancho  Cucamonga Los Osos (25-3)


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2016-17 Regionals: Seventeen Remain in Play

With Open Division play beginning with quarterfinals tonight, seventeen of 31 San Diego Section teams remain in the Southern California regionals of the state playoffs.

Boys teams won seven of Wednesday’s 13, opening-round games, were 6-1 in road games and 3-3 at home.  

Four lower seeds, Vista, Orange Glen, Olympian, and Mission Hills won and three higher seeds, Foothills Christian, Mater Dei, and La Costa Canyon lost.

Girls teams won 6 of 14, opening-round games Wednesday, were 6-1 at home, and 0-7 on the road.   Favored Poway was beaten by Huntington Beach, 52-43, in the only upset.

Biggest surprises so far were No 11 seed Vista’s remarkable, double-overtime, 97-94 win at No. 6 Rancho Santa Margarita and, just a few miles South, No. 13 Orange Glen’s 66-65, overtime victory at No. 4 Capistrano Valley.

Going into tonight’s four Open Division contests, San Diego Section clubs are 13-14 overall, 9-4 at home, and 6-8 on the road.

San Diego teams will be visitors in 11 of the 16 quarterfinals games.


Open 6 St. Augustine (27-4) @3 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (27-4)
8 Torrey Pines (28-4) @1 Torrance Bishop Montgomery (27-2)


Div. Team Opponent
I 11 Vista (29-3) @3 Woodland Hills Taft (26-10)
II 12 Mission Hills (22-8) 13 Pasadena (25-6)
III 8 Santa Fe Christian (21-10) @1 Ontario Colony (28-5)
13 Orange Glen (22-9) @6 Selma (30-4)
IV 2 Helix (28-5) 7 Torrance West  (23-8)
V 4 Brawley (27-7) 13  Olympian (29-3)



Open 3 Mission Hills (29-2) 6 Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda (26-2)
5 The Bishop’s (29-3) @4 Studio City Harvard-Westlake (25-4)


Div. Team Opponent
I 8 La Jolla Country Day (18-11) @1 L.A. Windward (26-4)
III 6 Serra (21-10) @3 L.A. Marlboro (22-8)
7 Mater Dei (22-11) @2  Camarillo (29-4)
IV 4 Rancho Bernardo (26-6) 5 Cerritos Valley Christian (22-9)
6 Scripps Ranch (27-5) @3 Sun Valley Village Christian (29-3)
V 7 Escondido Adventist (23-3) @2 Irvine Crean (19-11)



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2016-17 Regionals: Saints, Torrey Get Rugged First Tests

Thirty-one teams from the San Diego Section begin play Wednesday and Friday nights in the Southern California regional  playoffs.

Regional winners will qualify for the state championships against Northern California winners.

The CIF state committee which created the seedings and brackets based on the power ratings model didn’t think highly of the San Diego Section’s 15 boys’ teams chances or those of the 16 girls’ squads.

Helix, seeded second in Boys’ D-IV, is the highest ranked boys club.  Brawley, a 4 seed in D-V, is the only other male team with a seeding higher than 6.

Helix (28-5) gets a Wednesday night home game against No. 15 Granada Hills (14-16), better known as the alma mater of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.

Brawley, Foothills Christian, Mater Dei, and Santa Fe Christian are the only others with home games.

St. Augustine and Torrey Pines, San Diego Section Open Division finalists, were placed in the eight-team regional Open, which begins play Friday night.

Helix, on an 18-game winning streak and having played a decidedly easier, mostly local schedule, was given a lower division slot and a presumed stronger prospect of advancing to the to the state final.

St. Augustine and Torrey Pines played stronger intersectional schedules and were “rewarded” with first-round road games against loaded, nationally ranked Southern Section teams Chatsworth Sierra Canyon  and Torrance Bishop Montgomery, respectively.


Nine teams earned seeds that will give them home games, beginning Wednesday night.

Mission Hills (29-2) is No. 3 in the Open Division and plays host on Friday to a dangerous 6 seed, 28-2 Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda.

Rancho Bernardo (4), The Bishop’s (5), Serra (6), Scripps Ranch (6), Mater Dei (7), and Escondido Adventist (7) all will act as hosts.

The biggest underdog of all 31 teams appears to be the Guajome Park Frogs, who have a 19-9 record but are seeded 16th in boys’ D-V and will travel to No. 1 seed Riverside Notre Dame.


1–St. Augustine, 2–Torrey Pines, 3–Foothills Christian, 4–Helix, 5–Vista, 6—Mater Dei, 7—Mission Hills, 8—Santa Fe Christian, 9—La Jolla Country Day, 10—Canyon Crest.


OPEN 6 St. Augustine 27-4 @Chatsworth Sierra Canyon 3 27-2
8 Torrey Pines 28-4 @Torrance Bishop Montgomery 1 27-2
1 7 Foothills Christian 24-6 Oak Park 10 22-8
11 Vista 28-3 @Rancho Santa Margarita 6 21-8
II 8 Mater Dei 23-5 Studio City Harvard-Westlake 9 21-11
12 Mission Hills 21-8 @Moreno Valley Rancho Verde 5 26-3
III 7 La Jolla Country Day 19-10 L.A. Washington 10 22-6
8 Santa Fe Christian 20-10 Vista Murrieta 9 24-5
14 Orange Glen 21-6 @Capistrano Valley 3 25-6
IV 2 Helix 27-5 Granada Hills 15 14-16
13 Sage Creek 14-17 @Twentynine Palms 4 27-3
14 Lincoln 21-12 @L.A. Carson 3 21-6
V 12 Olympian 28-3 @Bermuda Dunes Desert Christian 5 22-5
16 Guajome Park 19-9 @Riverside Notre Dame 1 29-3
4 Brawley 21-7 L.A. Watts New Design 13 19-2


OPEN 3 Mission Hills 29-2 Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda 6 28-2
5 The Bishop’s 28-3 @Studio City Harvard-Westlake 4 25-4
I 8 La Jolla Country Day 18-11 L.A. Palisades 9 25-9
13 Eastlake 23-7 @Brea-Olinda 4 23-7
II 13 La Costa Canyon 25-5 @L.B. Millikan 4 19-8
14 Westview 19-10 @Mission Hills Chaminade 3 16-11
7 Poway 24-6 Huntington Beach 10 23-9
III 13 San  Marcos 19-11 @Lawndale Leuzinger 4 23-10
6 Serra 20-10 L.A. Westchester 11 18-16
7 Mater Dei 21-11 San Juan Capistrano JSerra 10 16-14
IV 16 Lincoln 27-4 @Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos 1 22-3
4 Rancho Bernardo 25-6 L.A. Torres 13 20-6
6 Scripps Ranch 26-5 Pasadena 11 22-10
V 12 Maranatha 19-8 @Palos Verdes Rolling Hills 5 28-3
7 Escondido Adventist 22-3 Riverside Carnegie 10 16-4
15 Pacific Ridge 10-14 Irvine Crean 2 18-11


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2016-17, Week 10: Happy Trails, Saints Landmark

Dougherty Gymnasium went out in a blaze…of technicals!

The final two games at  St. Augustine were in  keeping with the history of the  64-year-old building, a bandbox of often ear-splitting noise, tightly-packed crowds, and  barnburner finishes.

Foothills Christian coach Brad Leaf will be serving a suspension when the Knights open play in the Southern California regionals of the state playoffs next week.

Despite the 72-69 loss to the Saints in semifinals of the San Diego Section playoffs,  Foothills will join St. Augustine, Torrey Pines, and five other local Open Division teams in the extended postseason.

Blame Leaf’s one-time benching on the decibel level created by the overflowing mass of humanity in the old gym or the spirit of Fr. Dougherty.

Fr. Joseph Dougherty was an Augustinian Provincial who led the  fund-raising drive that resulted in the Dec. 2, 1952, dedication of the squat, brick edifice that seats maybe 700 persons and occupies a campus niche on Palm Avenue between 32nd and Nutmeg streets.


Leaf received two technicals and an automatic ejection with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game.

As a team, Foothills was hit with three technicals because  a Knights player, or Leaf, called time out after Foothills rebounded a missed shot with 1.9 seconds remaining and the score tied at 69.

Foothills, however, was out of time outs, prompting the first whistle.

Leaf got into trouble when he began shouting that he had not called time out, resulting in technical No. 1.

When Leaf stalked the referee across the court, another in the crew raised his right hand to signal the second technical and ejection.

“It was a chaotic situation,” Leaf later said to writer John Maffei of the Union-Tribune.  “The gym was packed, everyone was standing. It was tough to hear or see anything….”


The Saints’ Taeshon Cherry was shown the door three nights before  after the player complained about a  foul in the second quarter of the Saints’ 68-45, quarterfinals win over La Costa Canyon.

CIF commissioner Jerry Schniepp overturned Cherry’s ejection after the crew of officials admitted  a mistake and that Cherry had not received two technicals, since the first whistle had resulted in a common foul.

Saints coach Mike Haupt didn’t start Cherry against Foothills but the 6-foot, 8-inch junior got into the game minutes later and scored 17 points.


The Saints’ game hero was Otto Taylor, a 6-1 senior who scored 23 points and hit three free throws in six attempts (two for each technical) with 1.5 remaining to give St. Augustine the victory.


Dougherty Gym will be used for other school purposes next season, when the Saints move into their new 1,500-seat arena on campus…the Open finals Saturday night at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on the University of San Diego campus will match the No. 1 (St. Augustine) and No. 2 (Torrey Pines) teams in the Union-Tribune weekly poll..the girls Open final will bring together No. 1 Mission Hills and No. 2 The Bishop’s…St. Augustine is eighth in the Cal-Hi Sports state top 20 and Torrey Pines is 16th…Mission Hills is fourth and The Bishop’s is on the bubble in the girls’ top 20….

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