Stockton has a No. 1 overall team for the state for the first time in any sport since 1992 as a result of St. Mary’s winning last Saturday’s CIF Open Division state title. The Rams also make history for their school (founded in 1928) with its first-ever State Team of the Year (in any sport).
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There was a lot of debate after the 2014 football season whether Folsom High had the best team in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section history. With several teams in section history that have finished No. 1 in the state overall, a list that does not include the Bulldogs, that argument is not an open and shut case.
Looking at it from a list of teams that have been State Team of the Year in girls basketball, however, it’s much easier to put this year’s girls at St. Mary’s of Stockton near the top of that same list.
After the Rams defeated Mater Dei of Santa Ana to win their first CIF Open Division state title (and eighth overall), they ensured they’d be named this week as the Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year. They are not only No. 1 in the state overall for the first time, but it’s also the first time in school history that any team in any sport is considered State Team of the Year. In addition, no other team in CIF Sac-Joaquin Section girls basketball history has finished as State Team of the Year.
At this point, we know exactly what long-time fans of the St. Mary’s girls and head coach Tom Gonsalves are thinking. Yes, but what about 2009? We would agree with anyone that the Rams of 2009 with two McDonald’s All-Americans in Chelsea Gray and Afure Jemerigbe should be more highly regarded than even this year’s team.
It’s just that in 2009 the Rams had to finish behind Mater Dei in the state and national rankings due to having a head-to-head loss to the Monarchs (who had current UConn star Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis on the team).
It was one of the trickiest and hardest-to-handle state rankings we’ve ever done because earlier in the season St. Mary’s had a win over Brea Olinda, Mater Dei had a win over St. Mary’s and Brea Olinda had a win over Mater Dei. It was the quintessential three-way tie (except we don’t do ties in the rankings). Mater Dei later avenged its loss to Brea Olinda and then won the CIF Division II state title while St. Mary’s won it in Division III.
Gonsalves himself has been one of the strongest critics in some regards about the new Open Division, but at least there was no difficulty in doing this year’s final rankings. Even without the Open Division, St. Mary’s and Mater Dei would have played this year in Division I.
From a historical perspective, this year’s St. Mary’s girls also have become the first team in any sport from a Stockton school to finish No. 1 overall in the state since 1992 when Lincoln of Stockton wound up No. 1 for the second straight year in softball. Other than two other Lincoln softball No. 1 rankings and one for 1964 for Stagg of Stockton in football, all of the city’s other State Team of the Year honorees are from the long-closed Stockton High prior to World War II.
All season long, the story about the Rams has been about their future since many of the top players – junior Mi’Cole Cayton, junior Kat Tudor, sophomores Sierra Smith and Naje Murray and freshman Aquira DeCosta – will all be back next season.
The future is still extremely promising, but for Gonsalves and his assistants the challenge will be different: Staying on top instead of getting there.
Congratulations to Coach Gonsalves, all of the other players and all of the other coaches for a truly memorable season.
Cal-Hi Sports Girls Basketball
State Teams of the Year All-Time List
2015 – Stockton St. Mary’s (34-1)
2014 – Long Beach Poly (27-3)
2013 – Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (30-3)
2012 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (34-3)
2011 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (34-1)
2010 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-1)
2009 – Brea Olinda Brea (33-2)
2008 – San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral (33-0)
2007 – Long Beach Poly (36-1)
2006 – Fullerton Troy (33-1)
2005 – Piedmont (32-2)
2004 – Piedmont (33-2)
2003 – Lynwood (32-1)
2002 – Lynwood (32-0)
2001 – Harbor City Narbonne (28-3)
2000 – Harbor City Narbonne (34-0)
1999 – San Jose Archbishop Mitty (31-0)
1998 – Harbor City Narbonne (32-1)*
1997 – Berkeley (29-3)
1996 – Irvine Woodbridge (32-2)
1995 – Irvine Woodbridge (33-1)
1994 – Brea Olinda Brea (33-0)
1993 – Lynwood (31-0)
1992 – RH Estates Peninsula (33-0)
1991 – Berkeley (30-2)
1990 – Inglewood Morningside (32-3)
1989 – Inglewood Morningside (33-1)
1988 – Fremont Oakland (28-0)**
1987 – San Diego Point Loma (34-0)
1986 – San Diego Point Loma (31-1)
1985 – Compton (26-0)
1984 – Ventura Buena (31-0)
1983 – Ventura Buena (28-4)
1982 – Riverside Poly (34-0)
1981 – Riverside Poly (29-0)
1980 – Berkeley (29-0)
1979 – Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1978 – Huntington Beach (25-2)
1977 – Los Angeles (16-0)
1976 – Ventura (23-0)
1975 – Chula Vista Hilltop (18-0)
1974 – Berkeley (19-1)
1973 – Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (12-0)
1972 – Ventura Buena (8-0)
*Forfeit losses not included. CIF Division I state title vacated due to residency issues.
**Eleven wins forfeited due to use of ineligible player.