A Place Packed Full Of Memories

When the Golden State Warriors say goodbye to their Oracle Arena home in a few months, it also will be sentimental for California high school basketball. The building in Oakland has been the scene of numerous boys and girls legendary performances. Photo: oraclearena.com.

It’s been Oracle Arena in Oakland since 2006, but the Oakland Coliseum Arena has been home to the four-time world champion Golden State Warriors since 1971. It’s also been the site of some historically significant high school basketball games (both boys and girls). With the Warriors moving to San Francisco after this season and the arena with an unknown future, we would like to pay tribute to the many high-scoring high school performances that have been played there.

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At the conclusion of this basketball season, the Golden State Warriors will vacate their current home, Oracle Arena in Oakland, and move back to their San Francisco roots and brand new home, the Chase Center. Since 1971, full-time, Oakland has been their home and they have played in the same arena that is just commonly referred to as the Oakland Coliseum Arena. The facility opened in 1966 and until 1996 it was known as such. After a major renovation was completed in 1997, the arena was renamed “The Arena in Oakland” until 2005 and “Oakland Arena” from 2005 to 2006. That year, Oracle purchased the naming rights and that what it has been known ever since.

Whatever the name of the building has been or is, there is one sad fact for sure. Most likely after the Warriors depart, there will not be any more basketball played there. The only foreseeable event may be an annual stop by the Harlem Globetrotters. The NCAA has San Jose and Sacramento on its regular rotation. The CIF hasn’t been there for years.

Over the 50-plus years in existence, there have been some huge high school games to take place at the facility. This started right after the arena opened in 1966 when in 1967 the Northern California “Tournament of Champions” (TOC) moved down the freeway from Cal’s Harmon Gym to Oakland. Organizers indicated that the move was to take advantage of the facility’s more convenient location, adjacent to the Nimitz Freeway, its spacious parking lots and a basketball seating capacity of nearly 13,500. The cover of the expanded printed program declared, “The TOC Comes of Age!”

Almost immediately the new locale became a hit with fans. In the “Golden Age” of prep basketball in the Bay Area, the Coliseum hardwood was a welcome site. Some of the teams to grace the floor in the event were legendary. Although, for some players, especially the marksmen who could hit consistently from the outside, the new backdrop of a large, professional basketball building took some getting used to.

Bill Cartwright of Elk Grove captured the imagination of the entire Bay Area when he and his team played in the TOC at the Oakland Coliseum in 1975. Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.

More Background

In addition to the TOC, there were other high school games held at the Coliseum as well. For years, the main tenant, the Warriors, hosted the “Kaiser Prep Series” that was a showcase of sorts, back in the day. This allowed many of the area schools to get exposure against league or regional rivals. It was also a chance for many players to have the opportunity of playing on a real NBA floor. The concept was a success as it ran from 1981 to 1990.

The TOC itself was hosted at the Coliseum from 1967 until 1980. At that point, the CIF expanded what was a Bay Area or Nor Cal Regional event into more of a true state championship. After 1980, games were still held there periodically, but were relegated to exclusively NorCal regional or state championship games. At that point, numerous divisions also emerged, for boys and girls. They were primarily based on enrollment levels. With that expansion, there were numerous large facilities needed throughout the state from Los Angeles up to Sacramento to stage events. The CIF would grant games to bigger facilities including larger high schools, junior colleges, universities and even some professional venues.

In the early days of prep basketball, the game was vastly different until the 1960s. Thus, it was rare for a player to score well into the 20s or 30s individually. The threshold of 40 points was almost insurmountable. In the “Golden Age,” point scoring averages would swell, even without the “three-point” field goal line, which would not become part of the game until introduced by the American Basketball Association (ABA) upon its inception in 1967. Players were bigger, stronger and faster. The game saw speed and athleticism dominate.

This was at all levels of the game — professional (NBA and ABA), collegiate (NCAA) and high school.

Right about the time the TOC moved from Berkeley to Oakland, the game saw its metamorphosis. Hot-handed sharpshooters emerged from the playgrounds and brought their new style to the hardwood. About the same time, the advent of the “big man” in basketball was having an impact on the game. Early on, players like McClymonds’ Bill Russell were dominant at any level, but the forte was defense. Now, centers were taking advantage of their skills and scoring in bunches on the offensive end of the court as well.

Here, in chronological order, are some highlight games in which players scored 35-or-more points in prep games played at the Oakland Coliseum Arena over the decades. Many of the names are recognizable. Two of them are girls who had a solid impact on high school ball in California in their day.

(Note: Remember while going over this list is that the 3-point line for high school competition was not implemented until the 1987-88 season. That makes some of these efforts even more amazing.)

All-Time High Scoring Prep Performances
at the Oakland Coliseum Arena

Phil Chenier, Berkeley vs. McClymonds (Oakland) – 42 Points
March 8, 1968

The smooth shooting guard emerged from the local playgrounds and was one of the most sought after preps in the state in 1968. He ultimately chose to “stay home” and play at Cal before a long and successful NBA career. On this night, the Yellowjackets faced mighty and hometown favorite McClymonds (Mack) in the TOC semifinal. Chenier’s then record-setting performance of 42 points helped Berkeley upset the Warriors, 78-63, and earn a spot in the championship game versus undefeated Woodrow Wilson of San Francisco. Chenier made 18-of-34 (52.9%) floor shots, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked six shots and registered seven steals. This was all in an era before several of those stats were officially tracked. The previous point record was 34, set by Mack’s Jim Tolliver in 1963 against, ironically, Berkeley.

More people came to see Riverside Poly’s Cheryl Miller play for the 1982 CIF state title in Oakland than for any other girls’ game in state history. Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.

Ed McPheeters, Lincoln (Stockton) vs. Berkeley – 37 Points
March 11, 1971

Little was known about the champions from the Valley Oak League, Lincoln of Stockton, and its big scorer, Ed McPheeters. Lincoln was the first school from outside the geographic “Bay Area” to participate in the TOC since Salinas did so in 1964. He was also a big man, standing 6-foot-11. But it didn’t take long before the Bay Area crowd took notice as he poured in 37 points in a quarterfinal match-up against Berkeley. The Yellowjackets were able to neutralize the rest of the Lincoln ensemble, as they prevailed, 87-66. McPheeters also dominated the boards by picking up 24 rebounds.

Ed McPheeters, Lincoln (Stockton) vs. St. Joseph (Alameda) – 37 Points
March 12, 1971

After their first round loss, the Lincoln Trojans fell to the consolation bracket. There they faced another local favorite, St. Joseph of Alameda and were able to make McPheeters’ points lead to a victory. For the second consecutive game, McPheeters lit up the nets as he duplicated his 37 points from just the night before. The Trojans thumped the Pilots, 66-48, and earned a spot in the consolation championship final. McPheeters went on to play at Santa Clara University.

Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove vs. Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) – 53 Points
March 6, 1975

Prior to the arrival of Cartwright and Elk Grove, there was considerable anticipation and excitement. There had not been this much fuss about a prep basketball player, anywhere, in some time. The agile 7-foot Cartwright came into the TOC averaging 38 points per game. He and his Thundering Herd had little problem in the quarterfinal with O’Dowd, prevailing 90-72. Cartwright shattered Chenier’s record with a 53 point performance. He also contributed 20 rebounds and four blocked shots. Cartwright and Elk Grove went on to win the tournament. This was despite the attempt by Berkeley to triple-team the giant in the championship game. Cartwright’s appearance and performance went down in history. Big Bill is shown as the Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year for both 1974 and 1975.

Dave McCall, Mission (San Francisco) vs. Del Mar (San Jose) – 43 Points
March 12, 1977

Mission (San Francisco) unfortunately closed out its highly-successful season with a thud as they fell to Del Mar (San Jose) in the third-place game at the TOC, 92-76. However, McCall finished the year with a loud bang. The senior scored early and often as he pumped in 43 points in the losing effort. McCall had the support of his coaches and teammates throughout encouraging him to shoot because he was “hot.” Most of his shots came from long range. McCall finished 21-of-39 (53.8%) with almost all coming beyond 20-feet in range. He was selected as an All Nor Cal honoree in 1977 and was later inducted into the San Francisco Prep Hall of Fame.

Mark McNamara, Del Mar (San Jose) vs. Mission (San Francisco) – 37 Points
March 12, 1977

It’s not often, especially in postseason annals, that you witness a game in which two players, from opposing schools, are socking away the points. But that’s exactly what happened in the Mission-Del Mar game. In addition to McCall’s 43 points, McNamara of the Dons checked-in with 37 of his own. His came in a winning effort over the Bears. It was Del Mar’s second-consecutive third-place finish in the event. Not much is known about McNamara’s effort, as it seems the scorekeepers were having enough trouble keeping-up with the end-to-end action. The 6-11 center started his collegiate career at Cal before transferring to Santa Clara and then enjoyed eight years in the NBA.

Jackie White, San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) vs. Rio Americano (Sacramento) – Girls – 45 Points
March 14, 1980

Ms. Jackie White of San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) dazzled the crowd at the TOC since her freshman year. Even some of her male counterparts took notice of White’s ability to score from long-range. In this contest versus Rio Americano (Sacramento), White broke her own established record (42 points) set just the season prior, which broke her previous record she shared at 33 points. The new mark was 45 points. The 5-fot-8 dynamo led the Panthers to a 67-59 win over the Lady Raiders in semifinal action. Perhaps even more amazing than the point total was the fact that White scored every one of her team’s points in the fourth quarter — 24 points in all. White finished the night 21-of-35 (60.0%) from the floor.

Cheryl Miller, Poly (Riverside) vs. Los Gatos – Girls – 41 Points
March 19, 1982

Two years after White was finished with her scoring madness, another dominant phenom came along and rewrote the record books. Her name was Cheryl Miller from Riverside Poly. In the state championship game versus Los Gatos, Miller lived up to her All-American billing as she tanked 41 points to lead her school in a 77-44 rout. Miller, who had scored 105 points in a single game earlier in the season, had as
complete of a performance that anyone could remember in such a high-profile game. In addition to the points, she also chipped in with 16 rebounds, six steals and two blocked shots. She also forced four turnovers. Miller went on to a stellar career at USC and represented the USA in the Olympic Games.

Darnell Robinson from Emery of Emeryville didn’t score 35 points or more for his team in the 1993 CIF Division V state championship played at the Coliseum Arena, but the state’s No. 2 all-time career scorer led his team past Brethren Christian. Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.

Steve Kenilvort, Drake (San Anselmo) vs. Banning (Wilmington) – 35 Points
March 19, 1982

Drake (San Anselmo) came into the state championship game against Banning (Wilmington) with a perfect 33-0 record — one of the best in state history. After the Drake girls team had won its state championship game, point guard Kenilvort made sure that his Pirates took home a second trophy. The 6-foot-3 senior netted 35 points on 14-of-21 (66.7%) shooting from the floor and 7-of-11 (63.6%) from the free throw line. Kenilvort also showed his athleticism with 16 rebounds as Drake squeaked by 87-85. It was the Pirates’ 56th consecutive victory dating back to the previous season. Kenilvort went on to play for head coach Carroll Williams at Santa Clara University. Teammate Steve Lavin later became head coach at UCLA, St. John’s and is now prominent college basketball analyst.

Craig McMillan, Cloverdale vs. Crossroads (Santa Monica) – 37 Points
March 19, 1983

As one newspaper noted, McMillan “turned some heads.” This came after he drilled in 37 points in the state championship game versus Crossroad (Santa Monica). The 6-foot-5 junior shot 14-of-23 from the floor and seemingly scored from just about every type of basketball shot imaginable. McMillan also registered eight rebounds and five assists in the effort. He and his Eagles prevailed 71-64. McMillan formed a great one-two punch duo with 6-foot-5 center, sophomore Craig Bergman. The saddest thing about McMillan’s performance? The fact that he could have had more points, as he was only 9-of-18 from the free throw line. With McMillan and Bergman being underclassmen, they returned the next season to defend their title.

Craig McMillan, Cloverdale vs. Gridley – 46 Points
March 10, 1984

On the way to the title defense, Cloverdale met Gridley in the NorCal championship in 1984 at the arena. McMillan’s effort this time was even more remarkable as he tabulated 46 points in the 77-64 drubbing. He shot 18-of-29 (62.0%) from the field and a much-improved (from last season) 10-of-12 (83.3%) from the charity stripe. For McMillan, the 47 points were a career high. It was the Eagles’ 47th consecutive win dating back to the previous season. He went on to play at Arizona and is enjoying a successful coaching career at Santa Rosa JC. Teammate Craig Bergman also went on to play at Arizona (as a football quarterback) and has been one of the top football coaches and athletic directors in the Bay Area at Monte Vista (Danville).

Tracy Murray, Glendora vs. Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) – 64 Points
March 18, 1989

And the last shall be first. Murray had the highest-scoring game in prep history at the Coliseum with 64 points — sadly in a losing effort for his school. According to newspaper reports, Murray started the game by “hitting from all over the floor.” Coming into the contest, the scouting report said he could score inside, outside, rebound and pass. However, the Glendora supporting cast was only so-so as the Tartans fell to Menlo-Atherton in the Division II title contest, 89-83. The 64 points tied Murray’s career high for the Tartans. His line in the scorebook was quite impressive. Murray was 23-of-44 (52.3%) from the floor, including 6-of-15 (40.0%) from 3-point range. He also snagged 19 rebounds. Murray finished his career as the highest single season and career (3,053 points) prep scorer in California history, but since then two from Glendora have been surpassed (Casey Jacobsen and brother Cameron Murray) that number. Still, Murray didn’t play nearly as many games as others above 3,000 points and his points-per-game average for the season finished at a gaudy 43.6. Cal-Hi Sports predicted that Murray could score 60 points in that state final, but that if he did Menlo-Atherton would “win by four.”
Murray’s 64 points actually matched the Coliseum Arena record (for any level) set by Rick Barry of the Golden State Warriors in March of 1974. Barry played 43 of forty-eight possible minutes in his game. It is unknown how many minutes Murray actually played, but the maximum would have been 32. Newspaper reports did mention this fact. Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita grad), the only other person to score 60-or-more at the venue, at any level, did so playing just 29 minutes.

Kendrick Reed, Menlo-Atherton (Atherton) vs. Glendora – 36 Points
March 18, 1989

Well, there is one more above 35 points to mention. You didn’t think Tracy Murray could score 64 points for a team that lost in which the other team also didn’t have someone get hot. Reed was that player for the Bears. And although his 36 points pales in comparison to what Murray did in the same game, Reed’s 36 is still one of the highest totals for any CIF Division 2 state final.

Other Top-Scoring Performances
at Oakland Coliseum Arena

National Basketball Association
64 points: Rick Barry – Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trailblazers, 1974
60 points: Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors vs. Indiana Pacers, 2016
Barry played 43 of a 48 possible minutes without the benefit a three-point line.
Thompson played just 29 minutes in his effort.

American Basketball Association
47 points: Larry Miller – Los Angeles Stars vs. Oakland Oaks, 1969

NCAA Tournament
42 points: Bo Kimble – Loyola Marymount Lions vs. Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels, 1990

NBA All-Star Game
26 points: Allen Iverson – East vs. West, 2001

McDonald’s High School All-American Game
20 points: Russell Cross, West vs. East, 1980
20 points: Glenn Rivers, West vs. East, 1980
Cross was from Manley Career Academy (Chicago, Illinois).
Rivers was from Proviso East High School (Maywood, Illinois) and known more these days as Glenn “Doc” Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Chuck Nan is a former banking executive and free-lance sportswriter from Northern California now living in Orange County and is providing Orange County information/writeups to Cal-Hi Sports. Chuck is former sports editor of the Martinez News-Gazette and is author of the book “The San Francisco Giants: Fifty Years by the Bay” published in 2006.

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

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One Comment

  1. Deb Cartmell
    Posted February 18, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I love this article. It would be great if you could share with Stockton Ca local newspaper. Great article about Stockton’s Lincoln HS and Ed McPheeters.


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