St. Augustine of San Diego boys hoops coach is first in 10 years and San Diego County’s third since 1969 to earn the honor from Cal-Hi Sports. Four other coaches honored in each CIF division.
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By Ronnie Flores
There is an an old coaching saying that’s been around a long time.
“It’s tough to beat a good team twice in the same season,” is that saying. It’s especially true if that team has already beaten you, not once or twice, but three times earlier.
That was exactly the scenario for Mike Haupt’s team at St. Augustine of an Diego. After Cathedral Catholic defeated the Saints three times during the regular season, including a 65-53 setback during an early tournament game, St. Augustine came roaring back to defeat its Western League rival 62-36 to capture the CIF San Diego Section Division III title.
The Saints went on to beat Cathedral Catholic a second time in the SoCal Division III regional semifinals. For leading St. Augustine to a section title and eventually its first ever CIF state title, Saints’ head coach Mike Haupt has been chosen as boys basketball State Coach of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports.
“This honor is an wonderful affirmation of our program and the way we do things,” said Haupt when told of the honor. “It means a lot to me and our school. This also belongs to my family, our coaches and the school; nobody does it by themselves.”
Haupt is the first coach from a CIF San Diego Section school to earn the honor since Zack Jones turned the trick in 2003 after leading Horizon to its second consecutive CIF Division IV title. Before that, you have to go back to 1969 to find a coach from San Diego County to earn the prestigious honor. That’s when an up-and-coming junior center by the name of Bill Walton led Helix of La Mesa to a 29-2 mark. That team was coached by Gordon Nash and in Walton’s fantastic senior year Helix went 33-0.
Like Walton, Haupt was a highly-honored high school player. He was the co-San Diego Section Player of the Year in 1984 at Mira Mesa along with Poway center John Colborne. Haupt went on to play at the University of San Diego and was a college assistant at his alma mater for four seasons before joining the high school ranks and becoming St. Augustine’s head coach during the 1996-1997 season.
“Everybody thinks they can play after high school and college, but I tore ligaments in my knee my junior year and my career was over,” Haupt said. “I wasn’t coaching at first, but in my spare time everything in my life revolved around basketball. I talked to my mentor, my college coach (Hank Egan), and it just so happened there was an opening for an assistant coaching position. I’m fortunate Coach Egan took a shot on me.”
After wearing the glass slipper four consecutive times in section title game losses to University of San Diego early in his prep coaching career, Haupt finally got off the schneid by winning the San Diego Section Division III title in 2001 with a 80-70 victory over Valley Center.
“Patience is what you learn most in coaching over the years,” Haupt said. “You put a plan together and hope it works. Until you win a big tournament or title, you really don’t know that what you do actually works. Seventeen years later, I’m fairly confident we have a good system.”
Haupt’s overall record as head man with the Saints’ program is 330-173. He’s won four section titles and now a state title. Amazingly, he’s won the same amount of section titles as league titles.
St. Augustine played second fiddle to Cathedral Catholic in the Western League this past season. The Dons began the season ranked in the Cal-Hi Sports state top 20 and it looked like the rankings would hold up after Cathedral Catholic beat the Saints by scores of 66-53, 67-64 and 62-59 during the regular season. St. Augustine entered the San Diego Section playoffs on the bubble in the state top 20 and that’s when things began to click.
“Honestly in my heart, I felt we were the better team each time,” Haupt said. “We got better as the season wore along. We didn’t let the losses deter us. If somebody told me we would beat them by 26 points would I have believed them? No, I wouldn’t have, but our guys had been building to that moment.”
“He’s one of the best coaches in the state,” Cathedral Catholic coach Will Cunningham said. “He knows how to use and maximize talent and his kids always play hard.”
Senior point guard Nate Samaniego returning from injury and shooting guard Trey Kell emerging as one of the best juniors in the state fueled St. Aug’s late-season surge. The Saints finished the season with 14 consecutive victories and a 29-4 record and No. 10 overall state ranking. The only other team Haupt’s club lost to was No. 5 Sheldon of Sacramento, another factor in Haupt’s selection for this honor. In addition, his team posted a win over No. 6 Salesian of Richmond, a team that was nationally ranked at times during the season.
“What makes Mike one of the state’s top basketball coaches is that he’s unflappable in pressure situations,” said San Diego Hall of Champions Awards Director Steve Brand. “He knows exactly what the situation is at every point in the game and makes adjustments accordingly. After losing three times to Cathedral Catholic this year, he knew his game plans were sound, they just needed to be executed a little better and that’s how they were able to beat Cathedral Catholic in the section championships and regional semifinals. I think his interaction with the players is superb and he’s learned what it takes to be successful every year.”
There is no doubting Haupt’s success as a coach over the years. It just so happens St. Augustine’s last game this season turned out to be a win.
Below is the complete slate of 2013 Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the Year for boys basketball.
James Hecht (Santa Monica)
The 19-year head man at SaMoHi led his program to its first appearance in a state championship game since 1928, the year Santa Monica was the last SoCal regional champ before the CIF did away with boys’ basketball state championships. Even though SaMoHi came up a bit short in the state title game against Pleasant Grove, the Vikings were able to capture the Ocean League title and the CIF Southern Section Division I-A title. A former St. Monica of Santa Monica standout and Cal State Northridge player, Hecht also teaches math at SaMoHi. This year’s 29-7 record pushed Hecht’s career mark to 328-202. He’s the third CIF Southern Section coach in the past four years chosen in this division.
Reggie Morris Jr. (Redondo Union, Redondo Beach)
When it was apparent the Seahawks were going to beat College Park of Pleasant Hill for the state title in this division, the Redondo Union cheering section began chanting, “Thank you, Reggie.” After all, Redondo Union finished 10-17 in the 2011-12 season with many of the same players on this season’s roster. It was a remarkable turnaround for a program that won its first-ever state title with a coach in his first season with the program. Morris Jr., now 232-98 in 11 years as a head coach, won CIF Southern Section titles at St. Bernard of Playa Del Rey in 2012 and Leuzinger of Lawndale in 2010. After coaching Leuzinger to the school’s first ever section title, Morris Jr. joined his father, Reggie Sr., as a Division I state coach of the year. His father was named for 1988 when Manual Arts of Los Angeles won the Division I state title. “I wanted to make history as far as the father-son combo goes, but more importantly it’s about the kids and what they accomplished in a short period of time,” Morris Jr. said.
Mike Haupt (St. Augustine, San Diego)
He also has been selected as the overall Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year. Haupt’s program won San Diego Section Division III titles in 2001, 2002, 2005 and this past season.
Tom Bonfigli (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa)
A world history teacher, Bonfigli was a 35-year-old coach when he coached Newman to the state title game in 1989. In that game, Cardinal Newman faced legendary coach Lou Cvijanovich and his team at Santa Clara of Oxnard. Reaching the state title game this season against Pacific Hills of Los Angeles, Bonfigli is now nearly the same age as “Big Lou” was then. Despite coming up short in both games, the no-nonsense coach has accomplished plenty in his two stints at Newman and one at Justin-Siena of Napa. This season, Newman set a large school Redwood Empire record with 32 wins (against four losses) and executing Bonfigli’s trademark tough defense and teamwork, gave Pac Hills all it could handle before falling by six points in the title game. A 1971 Newman graduate, Bonfigli was 280-103 in his first stint at the school, 225-120 at Justin-Siena and 151-37 so far in his second run with the Cardinals. He’s the fourth coach from the CIF North Coast Section the past five seasons honored in this division.
Kevin McCloskey (San Gabriel Academy, San Gabriel)
With an underclass-dominated team that pulled players from an enrollment of less than 200 students, McCloskey’s Eagles went on a memorable run to its first SoCal regional final. San Gabriel Academy beat CIF Southern Section Division V-A champ Rolling Hills Prep (51-35), upset Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo (63-59) then knocked off CIF Southern Section Division V-AA champ Buckley of Sherman Oaks (42-40) in the regional semifinals after bouncing back from a 70-58 loss to Shalhevet of Los Angeles in its section semifinal. McCloskey’s team was the lowest seed (No. 11) this season to reach a regional final. He also doubles as the athletic director at the tiny co-ed Seventh-day Adventist school that observes the Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. That caused the regional final to be moved from a morning game to a night game. McCloskey, who is in his second year at the school after coaching at NAIA member Walla Walla University, not only juggled those concerns successfully, he also made a lineup come together with players from several different foreign backgrounds. McCloskey is the first coach ever from the San Gabriel Valley region honored in this division.
BOYS STATE COACHES OF THE YEAR ALL-TIME LIST
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2013 – Mike Haupt, San Diego St. Augustine (29-4)
2012 – Bill Mellis, Richmond Salesian (33-2)
2011 – Eric Cooper Sr., La Verne Lutheran (27-5)
2010 – Dwan Hurt, Gardena Serra (34-2)
2009 – Steve Johnson, Rialto Eisenhower (31-4)
2008 – Dwight Nathaniel, Oakland McClymonds (32-0)
2007 – Harvey Kitani, Los Angeles Fairfax (28-5)
2006 – Peter Diepenbrock, Palo Alto (32-1)
2005 – Pete Newell, Santa Cruz (36-1)
2004 – Don Lippi, Alameda St. Joseph (28-6)
2003 – Zack Jones, San Diego Horizon (32-1)
2002 – Ed Azzam, Los Angeles Westchester (32-2)
2001 – Vance Walberg, Fresno Clovis West (31-3)
2000 – Frank Allocco, Concord De La Salle (31-1)
1999 – Clinton Williams, Oakland Fremont (28-4)
1998 – Jerry DeBusk, Rancho S.M. Santa Margarita (32-2)
1997 – Frank LaPorte, Alameda St. Joseph (31-4)
1996 – Russell Otis, Compton Dominguez (34-2)
1995 – Steve Filios, Mountain View St. Francis (27-8)
1994 – Hank Meyer, Carmichael Jesuit (31-7)
1993 – John Barrette, Palo Alto (31-0)
1992 – Tom Orlich, South Tahoe (30-1)
1991 – Tom McCluskey, Tustin (30-4)
1990 – Lou Cvijanovich, Oxnard Santa Clara (28-0)
1989 – Willie West, L.A. Crenshaw (25-2)
1988 – Reggie Morris Sr., L.A. Manual Arts (27-3)
1987 – Gary McKnight, Santa Ana Mater Dei (31-1)
1986 – Mike Phelps, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (31-5)
1985 – Stephen Keith, Glendale (28-0)
1984 – Ron Palmer, Long Beach Poly (31-2)
1983 – Jorge Calienes, Rosemead Bosco Tech (25-5)
1982 – Dick Acres, Carson (26-2)
1981 – Maury Halleck, Santa Barbara San Marcos (25-1)
1980 – Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (24-2)
1979 – Dave Shigematsu, Oakland Castlemont (23-3)
1978 – Ben Tapscott, Oakland McClymonds (22-3)
1977 – George Terzian, Pasadena (29-3)
1976 – Bill Armstrong, Palm Springs (22-4)
1975 – John Mihaljevich, Palos Verdes (24-6)
1974 – Dan Risley, Elk Grove (30-0)
1973 – Tom Conway, Stockton Stagg (28-0)
1972 – Tom Cleary, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (27-2)
1971 – George McQuarn, L.A. Verbum Dei (29-2)
1970 – Spike Hensley, Berkeley (32-0)
1969 – Gordon Nash, La Mesa Helix (29-2)
1968 – Ralph Krafve, East Bakersfield (29-0)
1967 – Frank LaPorte, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (37-2)
1966 – Len Craven, Whittier Sierra (28-1)
1965 – Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (21-2)
1964 – Bill Mulligan, Long Beach Poly (32-1)
1963 – Bill Armstrong, Compton (27-4)
1962 – Dick Edwards, Sacramento El Camino (23-1)
1961 – Paul Harless, Oakland McClymonds (19-1)
1960 – Bill Thayer, L.A. Fremont (17-1)
Note: List continues back to 1920 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac.