Congratulations to all of the Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the year for boys basketball. It ended up that four of the five guided their teams to CIF state championships. It wasn’t five-for-five because the one we didn’t choose already has been State Coach of the Year.
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. For this year, we have combined the Open Division and Division I into one category. We also are going by CIF state divisions, which may not be the same division numbers teams competed in at the section level.
OPEN DIVISION/DIVISION I
Steve Singleton (Roosevelt, Eastvale)
Program history was made this season when the Mustangs captured their first state championship with a 54-45 triumph last month over James Logan (Union City) in the CIF Division I state final.
Singleton also became one of just three coaches in state history to lead two different boys basketball programs to state titles. The other two, Frank Allocco of Walnut Creek Northgate and Concord De La Salle and Harvey Kitani of Los Angeles Fairfax and San Pedro Rolling Hills Prep, have already been a state coach of the year so we just had to get Singleton chosen for one of our divisions.
Before coming to Roosevelt in 2007, Singleton was an interim head coach at Dominguez of Compton where he won a D2 state title in 2001 with a team that featured No. 2 NBA first-round pick Tyson Chandler (who didn’t play in the state final due to an ankle injury).
Singleton, who started out as an assistant coach and eventually got the Mustangs’ head coaching spot in June of 2015, is the second Inland Empire coach to be the choice in this division in three years. He follows Dave Kleckner of Etiwanda, who was the D1 COY in 2015.
Last 10 honorees: 2016 Russell White (Encino Crespi); 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).
Mark Hill (Esperanza, Anaheim)
In his 15th season with the Aztecs, over two stints, Hill led his team to its first state championship in program history when it defeated Moreau Catholic of Hayward 72-65 in the Division II state championship game.
During their 30-3 season, the Aztecs went undefeated in Crestview League play, won the league championship and were selected to play in the CIFSS Open Division playoffs. Esperanza lost two close games in that bracket, but bounced back to win a state title.
Hill, also named already at the Orange County Coach of the Year by the Orange County Register, is the first D2 State Coach of the Year from Orange County since Randy Wellen of Fullerton Sunny Hills in 2004.
Last 10 honorees: 2016 Michael Booker (El Cerrito); 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).
Arnold Zelaya (Mission, San Francisco)
Also named as our overall State Coach of the Year, it hasn’t been that long since a D3 State Coach of the Year also was the overall State Coach of the Year. That was in 2013 when Mike Haupt of San Diego St. Augustine captured both honors.
Zelaya has been at Mission for 10 years and epitomizes the work many teachers and coaches do at urban schools with low socio-economic populations.
Last 10 honorees: 2016 David Brigante (Santa Barbara); 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).
Derek Walker (St. Patrick-St. Vincent, Vallejo)
It was a history making year for the Bruins’ program as they won their first ever state championship and Walker recorded his 200th career win when the Bruins defeated Helix of La Mesa to capture the CIF Division IV state championship.
Before getting into coaching, Walker played at Porterville College and Cal State East Bay where he graduated in 2000 as one of the school’s top three all time in free throw shooting percentage. In 2002, he started to coach the freshman team at St. Pat’s and eventually for the 2008-09 season he would take over in charge of the varsity team.
This also was Walker’s fourth team that won at least 25 games in a season. The Bruins also won at least 25 games in 2010, 2011 and 2014. And considering St. Patrick-St. Vincent has to regularly deal with teams like Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame, Richmond Salesian and Berkeley St. Mary’s that only makes those numbers more impressive.
Last 10 honorees: 2016 J.J. Prince (Calabasas Viewpoint); 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).
Robert Robinson (Notre Dame, Riverside)
Both of the head coaches who had teams in the CIF D5 state final, Harvey Kitani of Rolling Hills Prep and Ed Kelly of Watsonville St. Francis, have been state coaches of the year before and in Kitani’s case he was the overall State Coach of the Year once during his years at Fairfax (Los Angeles).
We didn’t have to look far to find Robinson. His team at Notre Dame lost by just one point to Rolling Hills Prep in the SoCal D5 final and he’s been at Notre Dame for 18 years. Robinson also has done a great job turning around a program that just two years ago went 4-21.
A former coach for the Columbus Cagerz of the defunct United States Basketball League and for Allen Hancock College, Robinson’s team this year finished 31-4. He also has become the first-ever from the Inland Empire to be the D5 State Coach of the Year. In addition to basketball, he also coaches cross country and track for the Titans.
Last 10 honorees: 2016 Don Lippi (Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame); 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).