Congratulations to all of the Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the year for girls basketball. One of them started out 1-26 while another is a cancer survivor. Here is the rundown for each CIF division (note that Open Division coaches were considered for the CIF divisions their teams would have played in had teams not moved up and that multiple selections are only listed when a coach is later named the overall State Coach of the Year):
For more on overall State Coach of the Year announcement, CLICK HERE.
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Kelli DiMuro (Chaminade, West Hills)
As the overall State Coach of the Year for the 2014-15 season, DiMuro also has to be a divisional honoree. She was the D2 Coach of the Year just one year ago, but this year Chaminade was classified all season as Division I by the CIF Southern Section until it was chosen for the CIFSS Open Division. That’s why DiMuro had to be listed for this division for this season. If Chaminade was still D2, she would had to have been listed there once again. There have been other examples of a coach being a divisional coach of the year one season and then having to be listed for the divisions again the next season due to being the overall State Coach of the Year, most notably Malik McCord of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd for 2012 and 2013.
Last 10 honorees: 2014 Craig Campbell (Fresno Clovis West); 2013 Anders Anderson (Etiwanda); 2012 Cheryl Draper (Berkeley); 2011 Gail Hale (Moreno Valley Canyon Springs); 2010 Marty Verdugo (Santa Monica); 2009 Ron Hirschman (Danville Monte Vista); 2008 Lorene Morgan (Long Beach Millikan); 2007 Carl Buggs (Long Beach Poly); 2006 Hans de Lannoy (Danville San Ramon Valley); 2005 Pico Wilburn (Oakland Tech).
Miguel Granillo (Kimball, Tracy)
Turnaround stories are always great for coach of the year recognition or building a program from scratch. For Granillo, he’s done both.
When the Kimball program began four years ago, the girls and their coach struggled in a 1-26 season. And although this year’s team still hasn’t risen to the level of D2 state powers like Archbishop Mitty or nearby local powers like Modesto Christian, the Jaguars still had an amazing season under Granillo. They followed up a 25-4 season from 2013-14 to go 30-2 in 2014-15 and made it to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D2 final in addition to the NorCal D2 semifinals.
Granillo also has a solid core of returning players, including sophomore Donwanae Anthony and freshman Raziya Potter, so there could be more improvement next year although the win-loss record might not be as impressive if the schedule is strengthened.
Last 10 honorees: 2014 Kelli DiMuro (Chaminade, West Hills); 2013 Michelle Massari (Sacramento); 2012 Leonard DeCoud (Riverside J.W. North); 2011 Wade Nakamura (San Jose Presentation); 2010 Tom Parrish (Hanford); 2009 Steve White (El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge); 2008 Victor Pitton (Sacramento St. Francis); 2007 Rick Thompson (Norco); 2006 Kim Cram-Torres (Villa Park); 2005 Robby Sandoval (Spring Valley Mt. Miguel).
LyRyan Russell (Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Francisco)
For the first time in Russell’s three years with the Fighting Irish, they did not win 20 games in a season. That’s just a technicality, however, because it was nonetheless extremely successful.
The 18-11 season saw the girls post some big-time wins and pushed eventual CIF Open Division champion St. Mary’s of Stockton to the brink of an upset in the NorCal semifinals. That showing was in large part because of a very challenging schedule that saw the Irish get some big time wins they went 21-8 and 25-7 in Russell’s first two years.
Graduating from the school in 1997, Russell was a two-time All-Bay Area selection before he played four seasons at USF and six seasons professionally in Germany.
Among SHC’s wins this season were those against Division II state champ Archbishop Mitty, Division III state champ Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland and against D5 runner-up Pinewood of Los Altos Hills in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division championship.
Last 10 honorees: 2014 Andrew Butcher (Santa Barbara); 2013 Malik McCord (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2012 Malik McCord (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2011 Tom Howard (Orange Lutheran); 2010 Tony Scott (Inglewood); 2009 Mark Gradoville (Fresno Roosevelt); 2008 Michael Anderson (Anaheim Magnolia); 2007 Richard Schaaf (Rancho SM Santa Margarita); 2006 Gary Blate (Oakhurst Yosemite); 2005 Richard Wiard (La Puente Bishop Amat).
David Esparza (Fairmont Prep, Anaheim)
After a heartbreaking loss last year in the CIFSS Division 4A championship game, Esparza led his Huskies back to the championship game this season and the school for the first time was able to celebrate a CIF Southern Section championship after defeating St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs 73-49.
“It was a great journey,” Esparza said on Wednesday. “Our girls were determined to work hard and commit to putting the team goals first before individual stats. We played a tougher schedule to test our resolve and gauge where we are against some of the elite teams in Southern California. Each student athlete on our team knew her role and did her best to play to her abilities so our team could succeed. Setting a school record with 27 wins, I’m extremely proud of our girls and look forward to continuing to build a respectable program.”
Also the school’s athletic director and golf coach, where he has been named multiple times as the Academy League golf coach of the year, he has been the long-time girls head coach and has turned things around from a one-win season back in 2009-10 to now winning at least 23 games in a season for three straight seasons.
Last 10 honorees: 2014 Jim Hart (Scotts Valley); 2013 McKinsey Hadley (Gardena Serra); 2012 Terri Bamford (La Jolla Country Day); 2011 Steve Smith (Los Angeles Windward); 2010 Melissa Hearlihy (North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake); 2009 David Monroe (Chula Vista Mater Dei); 2008 Dr. Rodney Faucett (Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent); 2007 Bo Corona (Inglewood St. Mary’s Academy); 2006 Brian Harrigan (S.F. Sacred Heart Cathedral); 2005 David Smith (Los Angeles Brentwood).
Donovan Blythe (Eastside College Prep, E. Palo Alto)
Despite having just six players on the roster, it was a season that will be hard to forget for the Panthers as they came up just short of a Division V state championship, losing by just four points in the finals to La Jolla Country Day of La Jolla. Their 25-6 record also included wins over CIF D3 state champ Bishop O’Dowd along with CIF D2 champ Archbishop Mitty. One of their other losses also came in the CCS Open Division championship.
Moving to the United States when he was 14 from Jamaica, Blythe has done a variety of jobs in basketball, including helping to coach the Emery of Emeryville boys to their only state championship back in 1994, After his daughter went to college, he unretired from coaching and took over at Eastside in 2007 and immediately led them to a 32-2 record and a NorCal Division V finals appearance.
In 2011, Blythe received a diagnosis of colon cancer, but it was caught early and he’s in good health now. Because of that scare, Blythe now hosts the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic preseason tournament to help raise awareness for early screening.
Last 10 honorees: 2014 Doc Scheppler (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2013 Alicia Komaki (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2012 Que Ngo (Stockton Brookside Christian); 2011 Julianne Berry (Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame); 2010 Doc Scheppler (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2009 Mike Rubie (Sacramento Bradshaw Christian); 2008 Mike Talps (Oakland Head-Royce); 2007 Doug Croue (Santa Rosa Rincon Valley Christian); 2006 Shawn Flaherty (Redding Liberty Christian); 2005 Mike Fulton (Branson Ross).
Paul Muyskens also contributed to this post. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports