1941-42: Season Survives After Pearl Harbor

San Diego High players weren’t thinking of tomorrow.

They were more interested in savoring a 27-24 victory at Coronado as the team boarded the ferry for the short ride back to the docking slip near Pacific Highway and Market Street.

The Cavers may even have been discussing the merits of crosstown rival Hoover’s 52-36 victory over Santa Ana the night before.

The time, about 10 p.m.,  Dec. 6, 1941.

Fourteen hours later, as reports began to reach the Pacific Coast of a Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands, the game would be quickly forgotten.

Students and players from around San Diego County began to react to the chaotic events 2,500 miles away.

On Dec. 8,  as written by Don King in  Caver Conquest, King’s athletic history of San Diego High,  “…many in the record 3,316 students brought radios to hear latest reports…most gathered in the gym and auditorium to hear President Roosevelt address Congress and declare war.”

King also noted:

–Twenty-four San Diego High students joined the military within 10 days of the attack.

–Dances and banquets were canceled.

–The school newspaper, the Russ, suggested that the campus, strategically located near crucial military facilities, was important in contingency planning in event of an enemy attack on San Diego.

–Principal John Aseltine urged students to remain calm amid (possible) exaggerated war reports and to continue their routine as much as possible.

–Students volunteered to serve as messengers, took postings at civilian defense facilities, provided child care for defense workers, cared for the elderly during blackouts, and worked tirelessly in the defense effort.

The situation probably was much the same at the area’s other educational institutions.

The County included 18 high schools:

Ermer Robinson (right), in 1948 game against George Mikan and Minneapolis Lakers, played 14 years with Harlem Globetrotters.

–San Diego, Hoover, Point Loma, La Jolla, and St. Augustine, in the city;

–Coronado, Sweetwater, Grossmont, Fallbrook, Oceanside, San Dieguito, Vista, Escondido, Ramona, Julian, and Mountain Empire, located in the outskirts and beyond;

–Two,  private military schools, San Diego Army-Navy in Carlsbad and Brown Military in Pacific Beach.

All had basketball teams.

Universal travel and game restrictions had not yet been applied.  Many schedules had been set, guarantees sometimes agreed to, and, in an attempt to continue as before, interscholastic sports went forward.

Most varsities played at least 12-15 games, plus there was another dozen or so by junior varsity,  Bee, Cee, and D  squads.  A basketball fan would have a choice of more than 700 games on a three-month menu.

THE GAMES WENT ON

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2016-17 Week 9: Saints Figure to be Wary in First Round

St Augustine finished No. 1 in the Union-Tribune regular-season poll, is the San Diego Section’s No. 1 seed in the Open Division playoffs, and is 11th in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports as the Saints await No. 8 seed La Costa Canyon in a first-round game Saturday night in perhaps the last game ever at Dougherty Gym.

The tiny arena, erected in 1952, will remain standing and will serve other purposes on the Nutmeg Street campus, but the Saints will be playing in a new, 1,500-seat edifice in 2017-18.

The Saints (24-4) of coach Mike Haupt figure to dismiss  the 19-8 Mavericks of coach Dave Cassaw, but one look at results in the Southern Section first round last week shows that anything can happen in the postseason.

St. Augustine moved up one spot in the Cal-Hi ratings because seventh-ranked Mission Hills Alemany was upset by bubble team Long Beach Poly, 66-48.

The 18-point loss was enough to catch one’s attention, but Poly’s victory was achieved despite setbacks from the moment the Jackrabbits got on the bus.

A normal, 45-mile, hour-and-a-half ride to the San Fernando campus of Alemany turned into a 4 1/2-hour journey through torrential rain, wind, road closures, and a unscheduled stop when the charter broke down.

For Long Beach it was all’s well that ends well.

Second-seeded Torrey Pines (26-3) plays host to No. 7,  20-8 La Jolla Country Day at the other end of the San Diego Section Open bracket.

Looming in the quarterfinals for St. Augustine or La Costa Canyon is either 5 Mater Dei Catholic (22-4) or 4 Foothills Christian (23-5).

The winner at Torrey Pines will get No. 3 Vista (23-3) or No. 6 Mission Hills (20-7).

GRIZZLIES STILL HOLD CLAW

The Girls’ Open tournament favors Mission Hills, 26-2 and Cal-Hi’s state No. 4. The top-seed Grizzlies take on 8 seed Serra (20-8) Friday night.

The Bishop’s is seeded second in the Open Division, but was knocked out of the Cal-High Top 20 when upset last week, 44-42,  by charging La Jolla Country Day, 16-10, winner of six of its last seven, and seeded No. 3.

Union-Tribune Boys’ poll through Monday, Feb. 20:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 St. Augustine (8) 24-4 97 1
2 Torrey Pines (2) 26-3 90 2
3 Foothills Christian 23-5 81 3
4 Vista 25-3 68 4
5 Helix 23-5 54 5
6 Mater Dei 22-4 48 6
7 Mission Hills 20-7 33 7
8 La Jolla Country Day 20-8 31 8
9 Rancho Bernardo 21-6 10 NR
10 Poway 22-6 9 10

Others receiving votes: Olympian (25-2, 8 points) Canyon Crest (20-7,  7), Serra (24-4, 5), Granite Hills (22-6, 4), La Costa Canyon (20-7, 3), Coronado (27-3, 3).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Union-Tribune correspondent),  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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2016-17 Week 8: Playoffs Next as Leagues Finish

The regular season ends on Friday night and power ratings to determine divisional playoff appointments will follow on Saturday.

St. Augustine lost another first-place vote to Torrey Pines in the weekly Union-Tribune poll,  but is number one in the present power ratings, with Torrey Pines third.  Vista, which hasn’t played the marquee schedules of the Saints or Torrey Pines, is second in the power ratings.

The eight teams selected for the San Diego Section Open Division playoffs will have first-round byes, while divisions 1-5 will tee it up next week.

St. Augustine remained  12th in the Cal-Hi Sports weekly top 20 and Torrey Pines nudged up one notch to 19th.

Mission Hills remained fourth in the Cal-Hi  girls’ ratings, while the Bishop’s anchored at No. 20 for weeks, now is 18th.

Game of the week will be Thursday  night at La Jolla Country Day, where the state bubble team Torreys, 15-10, and winners of 5 in a row, will attempt to reverse a 62-53 loss to The Bishop’s, 27-1 and winner of 16 straight, early in the season.

The other girls bubble team is Eastlake (20-6).  Foothills Christian (20-5) and Vista (23-3) remain on the bubble in boys’ play.

Union-Tribune Boys’ poll through Monday, Feb. 13:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 St. Augustine (8) 23-4 98 1
2 Torrey Pines (2) 24-3 92 2
3 Foothills Christian 20-5 80 3
4 Vista 23-3 69 4
5 Helix 22-5 54 6
6 Mater Dei 20-4 42 7
7 Mission Hills 18-7 38 5
8 La Jolla Country Day 18-8 29 8
9 Poway 21-5 17 9
10 Serra 23-3 9 10

Others receiving votes: La Costa Canyon (19-6, 5 points), Olympian (21-2, 5), Rancho Bernardo (19-6, 4), Canyon Crest (18-7, 3), Orange Glen (17-7, 2), Granite Hills (20-6, 2).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Union-Tribune correspondent),  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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1946-47: Cardinals, Hillers Busy

The CIF Southern Section was flourishing with competition.

Wartime travel restrictions were a thing of the past.  There were games and more games, multiple tournaments, and big crowds.

Hoover, 13-6 in 19 games in the 1945-46 season, jumped to 33, with a 24-9 record.  San Diego High, 19-5 in 24 outings, played 34 and was 28-6.

Teams in the new Basketball Association of America, which became the NBA, played 60 games.

Hoover and San Diego, meeting the shorter high school schedule, competed almost as often as the pros in December and January.

Hoover won the Coast League race, but San Diego won the Beverly Hills Invitational.  Hoover claimed the Chino tournament title, San Diego the Consolation trophy.

Hoover suffered in the Western States Tournament. San Diego finished third.

San Diego beat Hoover in their first meeting, but Hoover won the last two, tied the Hillers with a 9-3 league record, and won the invitation to the Southern Section playoffs.

Don Larsen, with 94 points in five league games, won the Metropolitan League scoring title (Grossmont’s Ken Tennison was next with 86 in 7), despite graduating from school in January.

Larsen was center of attention at Point Loma.

MEANDERING SAINTS

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2016-17 Week 7: Here Come the Power Ratings

The invitationals and shootouts are  complete, league play is winding down, and the CIF Power Ratings are coming to the forefront.

As happened last season and will  again, the eight leading teams in the power ratings  in the San Diego Section will make for competitive Open Division playoffs.

The team that wins the Open Division here likely then will be pitted against superior Open Division teams from the Los Angeles area, the “NBA” high school teams of the state.

The San Diego Section Open Division participant figures to  be eliminated  in the Southern California regionals and miss the opportunity to compete for a state championship.

The San Diego team that loses in the Section Open  finals probably will be slotted into a lower division bracket in the extended postseason and have a better chance for success.

That’s what the Power Ratings have wrought.

As of today’s power ratings, San Diego’s best team is St. Augustine, which trailed by 19 points last week in the Nike Extravaganza and was outrebounded, 46-31 in a 74-62 loss to Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Mater Dei has  7-foot, 1-inch Bol Bol, the  son of former NBA player Manute Bol, plus assorted other standouts from farflung locations.

DESTINY LEADS U.S.

St. Augustine’s loss dropped the Saints from 10th to 12th in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports state top 20 ratings.  Torrey Pines got off the bubble and is 20th.  Foothills Christian and Vista are on the bubble.

Mission Hills (22-2) moved from fifth to fourth in the girls’ top 20.  The Bishop’s (24-1) climbed to 18th.

The Knights’ Destiny Littleton flew past the 4,000-career-points mark and led the nation with a 48.1 average before last night’s game, a 92-60 win over Horizon  in which Littleton blew up for 61 points.

Mikayla Boykin of Clinton, North Carolina, is second to Littleton  with a 40.1 average.

Union-Tribune Boys’ poll through Monday, Feb. 6:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 St. Augustine 9) 21-4 99 1
2 Torrey Pines 21-3 89 2
3 Foothills Christian 18-5 79 3
4 Vista 21-3 66 5
5 Mission Hills 17-6 49 4
6 Helix 20-5 43 6
7 Mater Dei 18-4 41 7
8 La Jolla Country Day 17-7 30 9
9 Poway 19-5 11 10
10 Serra 21-3 9 NR

NR–Not rated.

Others receiving votes: Olympian (21-2, 8 points), Orange Glen (15-7, 8), Coronado (24-2, 6), Rancho Bernardo (17-5, 4), Canyon Crest (17-6, 4), La Cota Canyon (17-6, 3, Granite Hills 918-6, 1).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan, Union-Tribune correspondent),  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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2017: George Taylor, 80, Cavers’ Hoop Standout

No one scored more than 10 points in a game against George Taylor, whose defensive commitment  and offensive playmaking earned the 6-foot San Diego High guard City Prep League player-of-the-year honors in the 1953-54 season.

Taylor taught many years at Los Angeles’ Locke High.

Taylor, who passed in San Diego on Jan. 27 at age 80, was the primary player on the 22-5 team that reached the quarterfinals of CIF Southern Section major playoffs.

Taylor scored 273 points in 27 games, leading the Cavers to a 12-2 league record and an upset, 68-56 victory over favored Alhambra in the playoffs’ first round.

Taylor went on to star in basketball and earn a degree at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. He was an educator for many years in the Los Angeles area and later earned his PHD at Claremont College.

Taylor eventually returned to San Diego and became a board member at the William J. Oakes Boys’ Club in Logan Heights, where Taylor first took up basketball, under the guidance of legendary coach Augie Escamilla.

San Diego coach Merrill Douglas prepped for playoffs with Alfred Hudson and George Taylor (from left).

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2016-17 Week 6: St. Augustine Alone at Top

The speed bump Foothills  Christian hit against Orange Glen last week was followed by a chassis-rattling pothole in a 20-point blowout by Woodland Hills Taft.

The Knights (17-4) need  a front-end alignment.

They vacated their status as the No. 2 team in the Union-Tribune weekly sportswriters- broadcasters poll after losses of 61-60 and 76-56 to the above-mentioned squads and now are looking up at St. Augustine and Torrey Pines.

A greater indignity for Brad Leaf’s team was banishment from the Cal-Hi Sports  state top 20.  Foothills fell from No. 7 to  on-the-bubble status.

It doesn’t  get easier.

The Knights face mighty Oak Hill Prep of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, Friday night in the Nike Extravaganza at Santa Ana Mater Dei.

Promoters figure the Knights are a warmup for Oak Hill, which, with a victory, will ease into a Saturday night contest with U.S. No. 1 Chino Hills.

After sharing the top spot with Foothills Christian in the U.T.  poll’s first four weeks,  St.  Augustine (19-3)  sits in first place by its ownself.

But, following Western League games with Morse (80-48 victory last night) and  likely pushover Mira Mesa Friday, the Saints then jump into hot water in the Nike Extravaganza Saturday evening.

St. Augustine gets a rematch against the  host Monarchs, who  defeated the Saints, 86-62, in December.

LITTLETON GOES FOR 4K

The Bishop’s Destiny Littleton figures to pass the 4,000-point career scoring mark pretty soon.

Littleton broke Charde Houston’s  record of 3,837 a couple weeks ago and is scoring with the swiftness of a rocket eating up miles in the stratosphere.

Marlin Wells’ Knights are 22-1 and stayed 20th in the Cal-Hi girls’ state top 20 while 20-2 Mission Hills moved from fifth to fourth.

Union-Tribune Boys’ poll through Monday, Jan. 30:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 St. Augustine 10) 19-3 100 2
2 Torrey Pines 19-3 88 3
3 Foothills Christian 17-4 81 1
4 Mission Hills 16-5 57 4
5 Vista 19-3 56 6
6 Helix 18-5 43 5
7 Mater Dei 17-4 32 7
8 Orange Glen 15-5 26 NR
9 La Jolla Country Day 15-7 25 8
10 Poway 18-4 24 10

NR–Not rated.

Others receiving votes: Coronado (22-2, 6 points), Serra (19-4, 4), Rancho Bernardo (15-5, 4), Canyon Crest (16-5, 2), Olympian (19-2, 2).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan,  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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2017: La Jolla Vikings Great Dan Berry

Dan Berry passed recently at age 72, leaving a historic legacy at La Jolla High and of significant achievements at San Diego City College and the University of California at Berkeley.

When La Jolla met San Diego High at  Scripps Field in 1961, the Vikings had not beaten the Cavemen since 1951 and were reeling from 57-0 and 59-0 knockouts in the two most recent meetings.

Berry, an all-San Diego Section first-team selection,  rushed for 153 yards in 20 carries, scored a touchdown and passed for two, and charged a three-touchdown, fourth-quarter rally as the Vikings, trailing, 19-7, defeated the Cavers, 27-19.

Lefty Berry ran, passed, and drove La Jolla to big win and niche among all-time Vikings.

The seaside team’s victory should have created some sports world buzz, but the game was played on Thursday night, a day earlier than usual.

Friday night was when the media spotlight was on the high schools.

The Evening Tribune did not send a reporter to the game and The San Diego Union‘s coverage of the contest was consigned to back pages of the sports section.

La Jollans were outraged.

Many of the  beach community’s residents flooded the nearby office of publisher James Copley with telephone calls expressing anger that Copley’s newspapers had given their team short shrift.

Copley got the message.

An order soon came down from the fourth floor at the Union-Tribune building on Second Avenue in downtown San Diego.

Henceforth the Tribune would carry a full page of prep photo coverage plus a full page of stories and reports each Saturday on games  throughout the County.

KNIGHTS THRIVE WITH DAN

Dan Berry and the Vikings had a lot to do with that emphasis on the exploits of the area’s prepsters.

Berry later led San Diego City College to a best-ever 9-1 record and come-from-behind, 28-24 victory over Orange Coast College in the 1964 San Bernardino Elks Bowl.

The 6-foot, 1-inch, 200-pounder was described by Orange Coast coach Dick Tucker as “the best junior college player in Southern California.”

MEMORIAL SCHEDULED

Berry went on to letter at quarterback and running back for two seasons at Berkeley, and was a fifth round draft selection of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles in 1967.  His career was short-circuited by injuries.

Berry’s wife, Kathy, said that on Feb. 18 a celebration of Dan’s life will be held at the family residence.

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1944-45: Hoover Rules Southern California Basketball

 It’s a footnote in area history that has almost been lost in the mists of time.

San Diego’s rare basketball parlay.

The Hoover Cardinals were champions of Southern California and center Dick Barnes was player of the year. One had been accomplished, but not two, and not in the same season.

Barnes, a 6-foot, 5-inch center, and his teammates won the third annual Beverly Hills Invitational, the premier prep hoops event in Southern California during World War II.

It wasn’t the Southern Section playoffs, on hiatus in 1944 and ’45, but probably was better.

Barnes (57) averaged 16 points a game for championship Cardinals squad.

Sixteen of the best teams in the Southland were included in a killer bracket in which the winner would have to play four games in two days at Beverly Hills High.

4 GAMES, 4 WINS

Hoover opened at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 1945, against Bay League power Santa Monica.

Barnes stunned the Vikings with 36 points as the Cardinals eased to a 54-44 victory.

With a couple hours to relax and maybe get a bite to eat, coach Rickey Wilson and players watched Santa Barbara score a 45-27 victory over Redondo Beach Redondo, the Southern Section champion in 1942-43.

Hoover took on Santa Barbara at 9:15 that night.  Barnes scored 12 points and the Redbirds won again, 46-36.

The Cardinals were back at it at 2 the next afternoon and Barnes, virtually unstoppable around the basket from his pivot position, scored 18 points in a 46-44, overtime triumph against South Pasadena.

No time for a sit-down, Saturday evening dinner.

The boys tipped off again versus Whittier in the championship game at 7 p.m.

Barnes led the way with 21 points for a four-game total of 87 and Hoover earned a 47-36, title-clinching win.

All in a day’s work, or about 30 hours.

Ten days later the Helms Athletic Foundation not surprisingly announced that Barnes was the Southern California player of the year.

Barnes was the only major division player to capture the individual honor during San Diego’s Southern Section association, which ended in 1960.

Coed Vivian Denniston liked Barnes’ moves, on the court.

San Diego, in 1935-36, was the only team other than the Cardinals to win the major championship.

Hoover also had won the first Beverly Hills tournament in 1943.

Head coach Rickey Wilson stuck around for one more season and then began a long career as the head coach at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

HUGE CROWD

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2016-17 Week 5: Movement at the Top

Idleness apparently breeds contempt among voters in the weekly Union-Tribune poll.

St. Augustine, tied for first with Foothills Christian last week, played one game and defeated Lincoln, 68-62.

Foothills played two, winning 84-45 over West Hills and defeating Coastal League rival Santa Fe Christian, 68-61.

Two Knights victories over the Saints’ one  apparently was enough for one voter, who broke the seasonal tie for first between Foothills and the Saints.

Foothills, with 6 first-place votes to St. Augustine’s 4,  this week is the No. 1 team in the San Diego Section.

The teams’ position in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports‘ top 20 didn’t change, Foothills remaining seven in the state and the Saints’ 11th.  Torrey Pines is on the bubble.

Foothills should get a passable test Saturday in the “Greatest Show on Earth”  Shootout against Woodland Hills Taft at Los Angeles Cathedral.

Other San Diego voting saw Mission Hills jump from seventh to fourth,  Vista drop from fourth to sixth, Mater Dei climb from 10th to seventh, and La Jolla fall from sixth to ninth.

A 62-60 victory over No. 4 Chatsworth Sierra Canyon moved Mission Hills (18-2) from eighth to fifth in the girls’ Top 20.  A 65-52 win over Capistrano JSerra helped The Bishop’s (20-1)  remain 20th.  La Jolla Country Day (10-10) is on the bubble.

Union-Tribune boys’ poll through Tuesday, Jan. 17:

Rank Team Record Points Last Poll
1 Foothills Christian (6) 16-2 95 1T
2 St. Augustine (4) 17-3 94 1T
3 Torrey Pines 15-3 80 3
4 Mission Hills 14-5 59 7
5 Helix 16-5 49 5
6 Vista 17-3 46 4
7 Mater Dei 15-4 28 10
8 La Jolla Country Day 14-7 26 9
9 La Jolla 14-3 19 6
10 Poway 16-4 10 NR

NR–Not rated.

Others receiving votes: Orange Glen (13-5, 8 points), Serra (18-3, 8), Coronado (21-2, 5), Mission Bay (15-6, 5), Canyon Crest (14-5, 4), Olympian (18-2, 2), Rancho Bernardo (14-4, 2), Valhalla (17-4, 1).

Poll participants include John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Steve Brand (San Diego Hall of Champions), Terry Monahan,  Bill Dickens, Adam Paul, EastCountySports.com; Rick Willis, KUSI-TV; Rick Smith, partletonsports.com; Bodie DeSilva, sandiegopreps.com; Chris Davis, freelance;  Aaron Burgin, fulltimehoops.com.

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