Congratulations to all of the Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the year for boys basketball. One of our divisional choices happens to be a former assistant for our State Coach of the Year. Another is a police lieutenant in his day job. Another is a retired teacher who has found his niche coaching at his alma-mater while yet another has been the overall State Coach of the Year before but had yet to be chosen for his division.
For more on this year’s overall State Coach of the Year announcement, CLICK HERE.
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Note: Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens contributed to this post. Open Division coaches were considered for the CIF divisions their teams would have played in had teams not moved up after the section playoffs and that multiple selections are only listed when a coach is later named the overall State Coach of the Year.
Russell White (Crespi, Encino)
As the overall State Coach of the Year, White also had to be listed as the D1 honoree as well for this season. It’s the second straight year a coach from the CIF Southern Section has been chosen for this division.
If Crespi had been chosen for the CIF Southern California Open Division bracket instead of the Division I bracket and had lost in a first-round game, it’s very possible that White may have been chosen for all of these coaching honors regardless. Before going to the SoCal D1 bracket, after all, the Celts did win the CIF Southern Section Open Division consolation title with a win over Redondo.
Last 10 honorees: 2015 Dave Kleckner (Etiwanda); 2014 Nick Jones (Monte Vista, Danville); 2013 James Hecht (Santa Monica); 2012 Tony Amundsen (Fresno Bullard); 2011 Gary McKnight (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2010 Reggie Morris Jr. (Lawndale Leuzinger); 2009 Bill Powers (Danville Monte Vista); 2008 Dwight Nathaniel (Oakland McClymonds); 2007 Harvey Kitani (Los Angeles Fairfax); 2006 Russ May (Los Alamitos).
Michael Booker (El Cerrito)
Booker guided his Gauchos to the CIF Division II NorCal championship game this season after capturing the CIF North Coast Section Division II title. This came after the graduation of 2015 standout Tyrell Alcorn and the transfer of all-state underclass junior Carlos Johnson to Findlay Prep of Nevada.
Before heading to El Cerrito, where he is now 174-56 in eight seasons, he was at Kennedy of Richmond for six seasons where he went 111-69 and reached the CIF North Coast Section playoffs all six years. He is the fourth D2 State Coach of the Year from the CIF North Coast Section since 1993. The last one was Charley Kendall of Hayward for 2001.
We also know Booker as a police lieutenant in Richmond. One of his biggest moments as a coach came in 2010 when he had a player go into a seizure after playing. Along with a firefighter and nurse, they revived the boy and kept him alive until paramedics arrived.
Last 10 honorees: 2015 Chuck Rapp (San Mateo); 2014 Mike Wall (Folsom); 2013 Reggie Morris Jr. (Redondo Beach Redondo Union); 2012 Patrick Roy (Inglewood); 2011 Dan Larson (Ventura); 2010 Jason Bryant (San Diego Lincoln); 2009 Steve Johnson (Rialto Eisenhower); 2008 Steve Taylor (Rocklin); 2007 Tom Maier (Redondo Beach Redondo Union); 2006 Pete Diepenbrock (Palo Alto); 2005 Steve Scott (El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge).
David Bregante (Santa Barbara)
Retired from teaching, Brigante led his alma mater to its best season in a generation, according to our own Ronnie Flores, who went to college in Santa Barbara.
Brigante’s boys went 32-2 and captured the CIF Southern Section Division 2A championship, eventually falling in the CIF Division III SoCal playoffs to Bonita of La Verne.
Taking over in 2011, Brigante turned around a Dons’ team that had won just three games over the previous two seasons combined to a winning record, going 13-12 in his first season. That has continued to improve each season. In his five seasons, he is 120-29 and the Dons have won at least 20 games in four straight seasons. He also is the first D3 State Coach of the Year from Santa Barbara County.
A graduate from Santa Barbara High in 1961, Brigante had been the Dons’ frosh-soph coach for four seasons before taking over at the varsity level. He also was a lower level frosh-soph coach for many years at Rio Mesa of Oxnard, which is where Brigante taught for many years as well.
Last 10 honorees: 2015 Matt Dunn (Damien, La Verne); 2014 Todd Wolfson (Chaminade, West Hills); 2013 Mike Haupt (San Diego St. Augustine); 2012 Tim Tucker (Pasadena); 2011 Eric Cooper Sr. (La Verne Lutheran); 2010 Dwan Hurt (Gardena Serra); 2009 Jim Harris Sr. (Huntington Beach Ocean View); 2008 Derek Swafford (Sacramento); 2007 Tom Hofman (La Canada); 2006 Ken Green (Stockton St. Mary’s).
J.J. Prince (Viewpoint, Calabasas)
The connections between Prince and our 2016 State Coach of the Year run deep. He’s been at Viewpoint as the head coach for seven years, but before that was an assistant and JV head coach under Russell White at Crespi from 2007 to 2009.
A former player at Montclair Prep and Wheaton College, Prince also was a freshman coach and varsity assistant at Calabasas from 2004 to 2006 before White left for Crespi. In between those two stints, Prince was an assistant coach for two seasons at Campbell Hall of North Hollywood where he coached current NBA player and 2008 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year Jrue Holiday as a sophomore and junior. Campbell Hall’s 2007 team also won the CIF Division IV state title, which was repeated the following season but after Prince had left for Crespi.
At Viewpoint, Prince “puts Viewpoint on the map” was written late in the season by Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times. We agree. He has indeed put the Patriots on the map even though they have moved up into the Gold Coast League and now have to regularly play teams such as Sierra Canyon, Campbell Hall, Brentwood of Los Angeles and Windward of Los Angeles.
White also happens to have been the D4 State Coach of the Year just last season. Windward had the honoree for 2011 (Miguel Villegas) while Campbell Hall had it for 2008 (Terry Kelly).
Prince, who also coaches the Earl Watson Elite 17-Under AAU team, helped Viewpoint win the CIF Southern Section Division 4A title and finish 29-7. The team was ousted in the CIF SoCal D4 finals by eventual state champ Harvard-Westlake.
Last 10 honorees: 2015 Russell White (Encino Crespi); 2014 Doug Mitchell (Torrance Bishop Montgomery); 2013 Tom Bonfigli (Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman); 2012 Bill Mellis (Richmond Salesian); 2011 Miguel Villegas (Los Angeles Windward); 2010 Manny Nodar (Berkeley St. Mary’s); 2009 Bill Mellis (Richmond Salesian); 2008 Terry Kelly (North Hollywood Campbell Hall); 2007 Ron Pucci (Colfax); 2006 Jim Tomey (San Diego Francis Parker).
Don Lippi (St. Joseph Notre Dame, Alameda)
Back in 2004, we named Lippi as our overall State Coach of the Year but decided to honor him this year in the division in which he has won the most of his state titles. We didn’t consider him for the overall honor since repeating Coach of the Year honors is something we don’t do in an effort to spread it around as much as possible.
This season, Lippi guided the Pilots to their second Division V state championship in the last three years while winning his 800th career game in the state finals. It also was his fourth CIF state title with the Pilots during a coaching career that has also seen him at Skyline of Oakland, St. Ignatius of San Francisco and St. Patrick-St. Vincent of Vallejo.
“I’ve never made a basket in 37 years; I never defended anyone in 37 years,” Lippi said after the state finals. “I’m just a part of it.” He became the ninth coach in state history to reach 800 career wins.
Last 10 honorees: 2015 John Maffucci (Carlsbad Army-Navy); 2014 Sid Cooke (Renaissance Academy, La Canada); 2013 Kevin McCloskey (San Gabriel Academy); 2012 Jon Shaw (Sun Valley Village Christian); 2011 Mike Jarvis (Vacaville Christian); 2010 Ed Kelly (Watsonville St. Francis CCC); 2009 Mike Rubie (Sacramento Bradshaw Christian); 2008 Jonas Honick (Ross Branson); 2007 James Wilkes (Los Angeles View Park Prep); 2006 Randy Wright (Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian).