De La Salle’s Frank Allocco wins No. 600 after two from Riverside County reach 600 on back-to-back nights. Newark Memorial’s Craig Ashmore won his 500th on Wednesday as well. Go inside for updated all-time state list.
By Mark Tennis & Ronnie Flores
Contributing: Harold Abend
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It began on Tuesday, continued on Wednesday and continued again on Friday.
The “it” in this case is coaches joining the prestigious list of those from all of the years of California high school boys basketball who have won 600 games or more in their high school careers.
The milestone 600th win also is the one – just like hitting 200 in football – that gets a coach into the Cal-Hi Sports state record book in the category of most career coaching victories.
The first coach this week to join the 600-win club was Tom Gregory from Patriot of Riverside. On Tuesday night, he reached the historic milestone in his team’s 74-30 victory over Moreno Valley in River Valley League play.
According to Eric-Paul Johnson of the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Gregory notched 154 wins at Savanna of Anaheim, 374 at Ayala of Chino Hills and 72 so far in his fourth season at Patriot.
As most coaches do following a milestone game, Gregory wanted to focus on his players’ victory and the friendships he’s built over the years.
One night later, Johnson had the luxury of covering yet another Inland Empire mentor who joined the exclusive club and didn’t want to focus on the raw numbers, either.
For Mike Bartee from J.W. North of Riverside, it’s always been about his team’s accomplishments. Bartee is most proud of the league banners the Huskies have won in his two stints with the program. Wednesday night’s 70-24 waxing of crosstown Arlington secured win No. 600 — and league title No. 17.
Bartee, who according to Johnson won his first 19 games at Perris, also coached J.W. North to seven CIF Southern Section championship game appearances and individual talents such as 2008 McDonald’s All-American Malcolm Lee and former NBA guards Ed Gray and Corey Benjamin.
Gray was a senior and Benjamin a freshman when the Huskies won their second CIFSS title. The first came in 1984 when North was led by all-state point guard Billy Walker.
Bartee originally retired after the 2008 season, but came back for the 2011-2012 season.
On Friday night in Concord, De La Salle’s Frank Allocco notched his 600th win when his state-ranked Spartans defeated Livermore 64-29. For most of Thursday, though, there was a discrepancy over Allocco’s record that needed to be checked out. Through additional research by his staff as well as from Cal-Hi Sports, the total of 599-83 entering Friday night (including Allocco’s years at Northgate of Walnut Creek) was confirmed.
“It seems like only yesterday (1991-92 season) that I got a late start. I didn’t start until I was older and time’s going fast for me, but it feels great,” remarked the 58-year-old New Jersey native and three-time state championship coach about reaching the 600-win milestone when for a time it seemed like he might already have won his 600th. “The main thing is the consistency and the kids working hard for us that translates into constant 20-win seasons.”
The party after the De La Salle home victory over visiting Livermore was a lot better than the actual game.
There were seven different varieties of pizza, four different pastas, three salads, cookies, and a big cake with the No. 600 on it.
It’s a good thing his Spartans took care of business, otherwise a lot of food might have gone to waste.
No records are kept of who has been the fastest of the 30 coaches in state history to reach 600 wins, but even a thorough glance at the list in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book makes it hard to believe more than a handful did it in 22 years.
As for the game itself, the brightest spots for Allocco and his team’s chances in this year’s playoffs, and a berth in the NorCal Open Division playoffs, all manifested themselves in the lopsided victory.
Michael Inman, who Allocco says, “runs the show,” was playing in only his third game back from a broken foot that had him on the bench all season. The 5-foot-10 senior guard finished with a game high 17 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting.
Arizona-bound Elliott Pitts, who answered some critics that said he didn’t have the game for the Pac-12, with his play at the Nike Extravaganza, was content to mostly pass and play defense, but the 6-foot-5 guard still had 12 points to go with five steals, five rebounds and four assists.
“I think I surprised a lot of people down there (at the Extravaganza),” Pitts said. “I definitely had something to prove.”
Prior to the Livermore game, Allocco wanted to talk more about his team and its youth than winning 600 games.
The youth is the big three, or shall we say the young three, but regardless of what you call them, these three Spartans, Nikhil Peters, Jordan Ratinho and Devin Asiasi, have three things in common, they’re all freshmen, they’re each 6-foot-3, and they’re starters.
“I almost feel like I’m back to my roots coaching CYO basketball,” Allocco told Cal-Hi Sports.
“With three freshmen starting you can’t get upset with them,” continued Allocco. “They’re 14-years old. I’m constantly telling the staff to ‘teach teach.”
500 Club Growing As Well
On Wednesday night, Newark Memorial’s Craig Ashmore reached 500 career wins when his Division II state-ranked squad defeated James Logan of Union City 57-44. Ashmore reported his career record for the Cougars at 484-154 at the start of the season and Wednesday’s win gave his team a 16-7 record. Last season, Ashmore guided Newark Memorial to the CIF Northern California Division II final.
Earlier this season, Doug Mitchell from Bishop Montgomery of Torrance (which began this week unbeaten and ranked No. 3 overall in the state) earned his 500th win as well. He’s been head coach of the Knights for 22 seasons and has two CIF state titles on his resume.
Updated Cal-Hi Sports State Record File
As a tribute to Bartee, Gregory and Allocco and to the other coaches who have gotten to 600 career victories in California, including all-time leader Gary McKnight (still going strong), here is an up-to-date look at the all-time list from the Cal-Hi Sports record book (all current coaches up-to-date after games of Friday, Feb. 8):
Most Boys Basketball Career Coaching Wins
(Varsity wins only; California wins only)
Note: The Cal-Hi Sports state records took 30 years to compile by one person, Nelson Tennis, the late founder of Cal-Hi Sports. Media are reminded to please credit the source because state records don’t exist anywhere else and would never exist if it weren’t for Nelson.
952 – Gary McKnight, Santa Ana Mater Dei, 1983-2013 (952-84) (current)
843 – Mike Phelps, Alameda St. Joseph, 1971-78 & Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, 1979-1990, 1992-2003 (843-196)
829 – Lou Cvijanovich, Oxnard Santa Clara, 1959-1999 (829-261)
803 – Willie West, Los Angeles Crenshaw, 1971-2007 (803-140)
802 – Abe Abrami, Emeryville Emery, 1955-1993
780 – Mike LeDuc, La Verne Damien, 1980-86 & Glendora, 1987-1992, 1994-2013 (current)
773 – Ed Azzam, Los Angeles Westchester, 1981-2013 (773-227) (current)
763 – Tom Orlich, South Lake Tahoe, 1976-2000 & Fresno Clovis West, 2002-2013 (current)
735 – Frank LaPorte, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, 1960-1970 & Alameda St. Joseph, 1982-1997 (735-172)
731 – Ray Johnson, Oceanside El Camino, 1981-2009, 2011-13 (731-218) (current)
717 – Joe Chappell, San Leandro (two seasons) & Salinas, 1971-2012 (41-year record at Salinas 687-420)
716 – Don Lippi, Alameda St. Joseph, 1980, Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent, 1982-86, Oakland Skyline, 1987-1990, San Francisco St. Ignatius, 1991-2003 & Alameda St. Joseph, 2004-2013 (716-235) (current)
675 – Harvey Kitani, San Fernando, 1980, & Los Angeles Fairfax, 1982-2013 (675-240)(current)
671 – Steve Cain, Milpitas, 1970-2007 (671-294)
665 – Jim Harris Sr., Huntington Beach Ocean View, 1979-2011 (665-265)
663 – Sam Sullivan, Los Angeles Fremont, 1978-2013 (663-272) (Current)
658 – Rick Francis, Sonora, 1977-2013 (current)
650 – Bill Armstrong, Barstow, 1944-46, Lone Pine, 1949-1950, Compton, 1958-1971, Palm Springs, 1972-1986
648 – Tom Bonfigli, Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman, 1981-1994, Napa Justin-Siena, 1995-2006 & Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman, 2007-2013 (current)
636 – Jerry DeBusk, Newport Beach Newport Harbor (12 seasons) & Rancho Santa Margarita Santa Margarita, 1993-2012 (636-251)
636 – Tom Blackwood, Orinda Miramonte, 1966-2003 (636-337)
628 – Jonas Honick, Ross Branson, 1983-2008
627 – John Dahl, Moreno Valley, 1970-2006
618 – Tom Danley, Anaheim Katella, 1966-1999 (618-142)
614 – Jim Boyd, Travis AFB Vanden, 1965-1997
608 – John Singer, La Mesa Helix, 1982-2013 (current)
606 – Ron Palmer, Long Beach Poly, 1974-1984, 1989-2003
601 – Tom Gregory, Anaheim Savanna, 1980-1990, Chino Hills Ayala, 1991-2009 & Riverside Patriot, 2010-2013 (current)
600 – Mike Bartee, Perris (one season) & Riverside J.W. North, 1982-2008, 2012-13 (current)
600 – Frank Allocco, Walnut Creek Northgate, 1992-1997 & Concord De La Salle, 1998-2013 (600-83) (current)
*Greg Hilliard’s current record at North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake is 589-213. Overall, Hilliard is 724-286, which includes 10 seasons at a school in Oregon.
*Up next after Frank Allocco appears to be La Canada’s Tom Hofman. Hilliard could get to 600 California wins sooner, but he’s over 700 counting wins from another state. Hofman entered his team’s final regular season game with 588 career victories. He should get to No. 600 next season.
*Total for Jonas Honick does not include 29 wins at prep school Choate of Connecticut.
*Total for Tom Orlich includes more than 500 wins at South Lake Tahoe, which is not a member of the CIF but is a school geographically located within the state.
*The late Dave Morgan (San Jose Del Mar, Denair & Delhi) won more than 800 games including years in Ohio through 2003.
*Ollie Butler (Victorville Victor Valley) won 605 games including 44 in two Idaho seasons and 20 in one Oklahoma season through 1993.
*It is an estimated total for Bill Armstrong; his previously listed total of 847 in some record books included JV wins from Barstow, Lone Pine, Delano and Newhall Hart.
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