Record Updates: Basketball Coaching

Mike LeDuc from Damien of La Verne won the 900th game of his career during the 2017-18 season while Melissa Hearlihy from Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood won No. 700. Photos: & Harvard-Westlake Athletics.

In between our announcement of the 2018 State Coach of the Year for girls basketball (which came on Friday) and the 2018 State Coach of the Year for boys basketball (coming Monday), we have updated all of the state coaching records in our exclusive files that include some of the best ever for both genders. Those actual lists are for Gold Club members, but here’s a look at some of the coaching highlights from the 2017-18 season.



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It may not take too long during the 2018-19 season for Mater Dei of Santa Ana to hold a claim on the winningest boys and girls basketball coaches in California history.

The Monarchs already have the boys all-time leader, Gary McKnight, who is one of just a handful of coaches nationally with more than 1,000 wins for basketball and also for coaches of all sports combined in California. McKnight won his 1,100th game this season and his career record will be 1,107-105 heading into next season. Although it wasn’t a CIF state title season for the Monarchs, their victory in the CIF Southern Section Open Division final over eventual state champ Sierra Canyon had to be very satisfying even for a coach of his stature. The Monarchs, for one of the rare times in McKnight’s career, didn’t have the most talented group, especially when 7-foot-2 center Bol Bol transferred out before the season.

On the girls side, Mater Dei doesn’t have the all-time state leader yet, but head coach Kevin Kiernan will start the next season with 747 reported wins and will need just 14 to reach the state record total of the retired Joe Vaughan, who coached at Buena of Ventura from 1976 to 2007. Kiernan began coaching at Mater Dei for the 2007-08 season after he spent 11 years at Troy of Fullerton. He actually celebrated his 800th win during this season, but that was a total that includes several seasons when he was coaching boys.


Other than McKnight winning No. 1,100, the two other major coaching milestones in California for boys during the season were by Mike LeDuc from Damien of La Verne and Tom Hofman of La Canada. And they did it on the same night.

LeDuc became just the second in state history to win his 900th game. That came when the Spartans topped Rancho Cucamonga 81-67 in a Baseline League game on Jan. 19. Cameron Shelton had 27 points and Malik Thomas hit for 19. LeDuc is in his third season back at Damien, where he began his career in the early 1980s. He was at Glendora from 1987 to 2015 with a one-year break in the 1992-93 season.

Hofman’s team was playing South Pasadena on the same night and prevailed, 82-55, for his 700th victory. La Canada was led by Ryan Graves with 18 points and Patric Panoosi with 17. He became the 17th coach on the all-time state list to reach 700. Hofman has been coaching at La Canada since 1986.

Both milestone wins received strong media coverage, but no mentions of where the state records came from. National record lists were credited. Those records, of course, are from Cal-Hi Sports because they don’t exist anywhere else.


*Thanks to some requesting from our associate editor, Harold Abend, we finally got the career record of Harvard-Westlake’s Melissa Hearlihy. We thought she might be over 700 and that is indeed the case. Hearlihy, who coached for many years at Alemany of Mission Hills, was totaled up at 714 wins at the end of the regular season. She will start the 2018-19 season with 717 and trails only Kierman and Vaughan on the all-time state list.

*Milestone wins were posted during the season by Doc Scheppler of Los Altos Pinewood (600th), Tom Gonsalves from St. Mary’s of Stockton (500th) and Carl Buggs of Long Beach Poly (500th).

*Archbishop Mitty’s 29-1 season allowed head coach Sue Phillips to move up four spots on the all-time state list. Phillips, who has received several national coaching honors in the last two months, is now sixth on the all-time state list. Others moving up three positions are Scheppler, Gonsalves and Buggs along with Lynwood’s Ellis Barfield.

*We also have two new coaches joining the list. Paul Romig of Selma, a coach we got to know at the first stop of his career when Danielle Viglione was setting records at Del Campo of Fair Oaks, won his 500th game. He has been at three other schools in addition to Del Campo. The other newcomer is Russell McClurg of Huntington Beach. He won his 400th game on Jan. 3.


*Northern California has a new all-time leader in Don Lippi from St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda. Lippi’s team this year finished 22-11 to put his career win total of 852. He surpassed the previous NorCal best of 843 set in 2003 by Mike Phelps of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd. At the time of Phelps’ career ending, he was the state record holder at the time. Lippi is now fourth and Phelps fifth.

*The two coaches on the all-time list who moved up the most positions this season are Jonas Honick from Branson of Ross and Doug Mitchell from Bishop Montgomery of Torrance. Honick’s team finished 30-4 and won a CIF North Coast Section title. He moved up three spots and is now 19th. Mitchell isn’t far behind at No. 20 after moving past four others.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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