Congratulations to all of the Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the Year for boys basketball for the 2019-20 season. We have one selected for each CIF division despite not being able to finish the season with state championships. We almost always honor the overall State Coach of the Year from a school that was in the Open Division or Division 1 so those two are combined. One of our divisional coaches of the year also has been chosen as a state coach of the year for girls basketball before.
For more on this year’s overall State Coach of the Year announcement, CLICK HERE.
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(Managing editor Ronnie Flores contributed to this post by doing the writeup in D4)
OPEN DIVISION/DIVISION I
David Rebibo (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City)
This also is the first time that Rebibo has been a divisional state coach of the year. His first team at Harvard-Westlake in 2015-16, however, did win a divisional state championship. That was the team that included freshman Cassius Stanley (now at Duke and later a transfer to Sierra Canyon) and defeated Palma of Salinas for the CIF D4 title crown. We didn’t select Rebibo as the D4 coach of the year, however, as we tend to look to honor coaches who have won at their schools for more than one season.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Jonas Honick (Branson, Ross); 2018 Dave Kleckner (Etiwanda); 2017 Steve Singleton (Eastvale Roosevelt); 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).
Jeff Staniland (Oxnard)
In his 12th season leading the Yellowjackets’ program, Staniland has become one of the more highly respected coaches in Southern California and for having an historically great team for Ventura County has been selected as our D2 State Coach of the Year. Despite Oxnard getting edged 67-66 by St. Francis of La Canada in the CIF SoCal D2 regional final, the Yellowjackets finished 32-3, they were in the State Top 20 for several weeks and they set a county record with 32 wins that had stood for 70 years.
An upset loss to Hesperia knocked out the Yellowjackets from their quest to win a CIF Southern Section D2A title, but they defeated Hesperia in a rematch that put them opposite St. Francis (Golden Knights’ head coach Todd Wolfson was a divisional state coach of the year just a few seasons ago at a different school). Staniland already has been chosen as the Ventura County Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
A former standout himself at Oxnard where during the 1998 and 1999 seasons he averaged nearly 22 ppg, Staniland took over as head coach at his alma mater in 2008. His teams have won league titles in 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020.
Staniland is the first from Ventura County to be the D2 coach of the year since Dan Larson of Ventura in 2011. The only other from Ventura County to be a state coach of the year in boys hoops has been the legendary Lou Cvijanovich from Santa Clara of Oxnard. He is listed as the 1990 State Coach of the Year and also for D4 for that same season.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Jerry DeFabiis (Colony, Ontario); 2018 Ryan Bailey (Los Angeles Brentwood); 2017 Mark Hill (Anaheim Esperanza); 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).
Rich Buckner (St. Mary’s, Berkeley)
For helping his team come back from a CIF North Coast Section D4 championship game loss to Piedmont to win the NorCal D3 crown, Buckner has gotten the nod as our D3 coach of the year. The Panthers, who suffered most of their defeats in a 26-10 season by being in the same league as D1/D2 top teams Salesian of Richmond and St. Patrick-St. Vincent of Vallejo, won in the NorCal D3 playoffs over Half Moon Bay, Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco, Wood of Vacaville and Carmel. St. Mary’s was scheduled to faced Arroyo Grande in the cancelled CIF Division III state championship.
Playing Sacred Heart Cathedral was familiar for Buckner since he was previously the head coach at Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco from 2007 to 2017. With the Crusaders, Buckner earned a CIF Central Coast Section title in 2016 and in 2014 his team went to the NorCal D3 finals.
Prior to taking over at St. Mary’s following a coaching change at Riordan, the Panthers were only 6-18. In Buckner’s first season of 2017-18, the team went 19-15. St. Mary’s moved to 25-8 for last year before this season’s NorCal championship.
In 2010, St. Mary’s had a divisional state coach of the year before when Manny Nodar guided the Panthers to a spot in the D4 state final where they lost to Price of Los Angeles.
Last 11 honorees: 2019 Randy Bessolo (University, San Francisco); 2018 Tim Keating (Chico Pleasant Valley); 2017 Arnold Zelaya (San Francisco Mission); 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).
Luke Williams (Brookside Christian, Stockton)
This is the division in which the honoree last year was Roybal of Los Angeles’ Danny O’Fallon, who was battling Stage IV intestinal cancer but still helped his team win its first-ever section title and who unfortunately passed away during this season. Williams doesn’t have a backstory quite like that, but had the challenge of directing a program in which it was known would be playing in its last season due to a school closure.
After his 2018-19 squad won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D4 title, the Knights returned in 2019-20 and repeated with a 69-48 victory over Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento. They earned a berth in the CIF NorCal D4 regional final with a 52-48 road win against Fresno Hoover and two days before that were at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco where they won 68-63 in overtime against Stuart Hall. Brookside Christian (26-8) was advanced to the CIF D4 state final opposite Bakersfield Christian when Lincoln of San Francisco had to withdraw from the tourney earlier than other schools due to the Coronavirus.
On the last Friday before schools were shut down throughout California, Williams was able to get his players together for one last celebration at the school. That run-through was especially poignant since it also was the last basketball event at probably will be the last day the school is open.
Another aspect of Williams’ coaching that was impressive was his ability to mesh together a group that included two players from the Dominican Republic — Geronimo De La Rosa and Franlys Arias — and a player from Israel — Roy Ictovichi. Williams became the head coach at Brookside in 2016 when the previous coach and school athletic director, Adam Lichter, was hired at the athletic director at St. Mary’s of Stockton. In his four seasons, the Knights went out strong with records of 21-9, 20-9, 27-4 and 26-8 plus three straight league titles.
Williams is the second D4 state coach of the year from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section following Kraig Clifton of San Andreas Calaveras for 2018. Clifton also was chosen, in part, for coaching his team while undergoing cancer treatment. We were pleased to see that he was still coaching at Calaveras this past season.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Danny O’Fallon (Los Angeles Roybal Learning Center); 2018 Kraig Clifton (San Andreas Calaveras); 2017 Derek Walker (Vallejo St. Patrick-St. Vincent); 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).
Mike Fulton (San Domenico, San Anselmo)
It was only one year ago when our D5 boys coach of the year, Donovan Blythe from Eastside College Prep, became the first basketball coach in state history to be a state coach of the year for both boys and girls. Fulton is now the second. He was the girls honoree in 2005 for Branson of Ross and in 2008-09 guided the Bulls to back-to-back D5 state titles. He’s now getting the nod for D5 boys.
Fulton’s team in 2019-20 came back from a 26-point loss early on to Urban of San Francisco, beating the Blues in a rematch later on, 61-52. The Panthers (21-12) then got their 10-man rotation really rolling in the NorCal D5 playoffs. They beat the No. 1 seed, Pierce of Arbuckle, on the road, 58-37, and were scheduled to play Eastside of Lancaster in the cancelled CIF D5 state championship.
Last November, Fulton was inducted into the Marin Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame for his many years of coaching boys, girls and even college women’s basketball. His previous jobs prior to starting the boys basketball program at San Domenico were at Terra Linda of San Rafael, Branson and at College of Marin. At Marin, he led the women’s team to playoff appearances in six of seven seasons.
Fulton was a player himself at Drake of San Anselmo and played in college at Cal Lutheran. The last from the CIF North Coast Section to be the D5 Coach of the Year for the boys was Don Lippi from St. Joseph Notre Dame in 2016.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Donovan Blythe (East Palo Alto Eastside College Prep); 2018 James Mosley (Canyon Country Santa Clarita Christian); 2017 Robbie Robinson (Riverside Notre Dame); 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).
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports