Chaminade of West Hills winning the CIF Southern Section Open Division title and beating a team that was No. 1 in the nation twice gets her over the top and allows her to join all-time list that already includes some of the biggest names in the state from recent years.
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Heading into the vaunted matchup in the CIF Open Division girls basketball championship between St. Mary’s of Stockton and Mater Dei of Santa Ana, it was already known that the head coach of either team – Tom Gonsalves of the Rams and Kevin Kiernan of the Monarchs – wasn’t going to be the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year because both already had been chosen earlier in their careers.
At the end of the weekend, three other previous State Coaches of the Year – Sue Phillips (San Jose Archbishop Mitty), Malik McCord (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd) and Terri Bamford (La Jolla Country Day) – were celebrating state titles as well.
Winning a state title, however, or even getting to a state final isn’t a requirement for being State Coach of the Year. Not when there’s a CIF Southern Section Open Division.
Chaminade of West Hills was the champion in that bracket this season and for what she and her team accomplished made it possible for Eagles’ head coach Kelli DiMuro to be selected as the 20014-15 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.
“Thank you for this tremendous honor,” DiMuro said on Wednesday. “I really appreciate all that you and Harold (Abend) do for high school sports.”
DiMuro was actually the Division II State Coach of the Year last season, but being one of the divisional honorees previously does not preclude selection for the overall honor. The last coach to be a divisional state coach of the year and then the overall State Coach of the Year the next season was Bishop O’Dowd’s McCord, who was chosen for Division III in 2012 and then overall for 2013.
Already named as the L.A. Times’ Coach of the Year, DiMuro completed her 17th season at Chaminade. Prior to this year’s CIFSS Open Division title and last year’s CIF Division II state championship, DiMuro also celebrated after the 2013 season due to the Eagles winning the Division 3A section crown.
Getting a high-profile transfer like Leaonna Odom (who played during her sophomore season at Mater Dei) doesn’t always result in huge success but DiMuro was able to mesh Odom’s skills into a lineup that before the season already included standout junior Valerie Higgins and scrappy point guard Paige Fecske.
The Eagles faced Mater Dei for the first time at the Palisades tournament and knocked off the Monarchs 60-59 thanks mainly to a driving layup with six seconds left by Paige Fecske.
That win put Chaminade at No. 1 in the state, but only briefly because of an ensuing loss to Long Beach Poly.
By the time DiMuro and her girls played Mater Dei again – this time in the CIFSS Open Division final – the Monarchs had again risen to No. 1 n the nation. Chaminade wasn’t nearly as highly ranked since the Poly loss was followed by one to St. Ignatius of San Francisco at the West Coast Jamboree and then one in January to league rival Alemany of Mission Hills.
Playing Mater Dei, however, seemed to bring out the best in Chaminade. The second game featured free throws galore, and in the closing seconds it was Isabel Newman with a jumper that gave the Eagles a 64-63 victory.
Although Mater Dei won in a third matchup in the CIF SoCal Open Division championship, Chaminade had clearly taken a major step forward with its two previous wins over the Monarchs. The Eagles also won their fifth straight league title.
DiMuro started coaching soon after her own playing days ended at California Lutheran University. She took her first varsity job at Chaminade in 1998 (17 years ago) and she’s been there ever since.
GIRLS STATE COACHES OF THE YEAR
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2015 – Kelli DiMuro, West Hills Chaminade (27-4)
2014 – Doc Scheppler, Los Altos Hills Pinewood
2013 – Malik McCord, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd
2012 – Terri Bamford, La Jolla Country Day (32-1)
2011 – Steve Smith, Los Angeles Windward (29-4)
2010 – Melissa Hearlihy, North Hollywood
2009 – Ron Hirschman, Danville Monte Vista (29-3)
2008 – Lorene Morgan, Long Beach Millikan (28-5)
2007 – Carl Buggs, Long Beach Poly (36-1)
2006 – Brian Harrigan, San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral (30-2)
2005 – Richard Wiard, La Puente Bishop Amat (35-0)
2004 – Tom Gonsalves, Stockton St. Mary’s (32-4)
2003 – Kevin Kiernan, Fullerton Troy (31-2)
2002 – Lisa Cooper, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (28-5)
2001 – Dwayne Tubbs, Hanford (31-2)
2000 – James Anderson, Harbor City Narbonne (34-0)
1999 – Sue Phillips, San Jose Mitty (31-0)
1998 – Jeff Sink, Brea Brea-Olinda (33-1)
1997 – Yvette Angel, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (29-3)
1996 – Mary Hauser, Santa Ana Mater Dei (29-3)
1995 – Scott Brown, Moraga Campolindo (32-3)
1994 – Mike Ciardella, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep (38-0)
1993 – Ellis Barfield, Lynwood (31-0)
1992 – Wendell Yoshida, RH Estates Peninsula (33-0)
1991 – Gene Nakamura, Berkeley (30-2)
1990 – Frank Scott, Inglewood Morningside (32-3)
1989 – Mark Trakh, Brea Brea-Olinda (31-2)
1988 – Richard Hull, Willows (26-4)
1987 – Lee Trepanier, San Diego Pt. Loma (34-0)
1986 – Van Girard, Lynwood (28-4)
1985 – Tom Campbell, Chico Pleasant Valley (28-0)
1984 – Joe Vaughan, Ventura Buena (31-0)
1983 – Larry Newman, Anderson (26-1)
1982 – Tom Pryor, Cerritos Gahr (29-5)
1981 – Art Webb, L.A. Locke (19-2)
1980 – Spike Hensley, Berkeley (29-0)
1979 – Harvey Green, Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1978 – Joanne Kellogg, Huntington Beach (25-2)
1977 – Tami Yasuda, Fair Oaks Bella Vista (30-1)
1976 – Chuck Shively, Ventura (23-0)
1975 – Janet Balsley, San Diego Pt. Loma (34-0)
1974 – No selection
1973 – Mary Brown, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (12-0)
1972 – Judy Hartz, Ventura Buena (8-0)