State Coach of Year: Dave Rebibo

Rebibo has maintained the excellence of the boys basketball program at Harvard-Westlake since retirement of 30-year head coach Greg Hilliard in 2015. Photo: @Drebibo / Twitter.com.

In a season that wasn’t complete due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more coaches than ever were able to win their last game but more coaches than ever were also unsatisfied with how the season ended for their seniors. One boys basketball coach who didn’t win his last game of the season, but came away more than satisfied is Dave Rebibo of Harvard-Westlake (Studio City), who today is be honored as the 2019-20 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.

For our post on each of the divisional boys basketball State Coaches of the Year, CLICK HERE.

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It will be a boys basketball season in California that will long be remembered for various reasons, one aspect that stood out being the dominance of the CIF Southern Section’s top teams.

In some respects, the programs vying for a spot in the coveted CIFSS Open Division playoffs have dominated our weekly state rankings in recent years, but this season they have been the most prominent they have ever been. With the CIF L.A. City Section and San Diego Section’s teams enjoying pedestrian years rankings-wise, only Sheldon of Sacramento proved, day-in-and-day out, it could compete with and beat the
top-ranked CIFSS teams.

Those teams dominated the weekly rankings and it should come as no surprise they will dominate the post-season honors for 2019-20. With the top coaching honor likely coming from one of those nine programs, the field of candidates wasn’t hard to narrow down, and a few of those coaches have already been chosen before. In the final analysis, picking Dave Rebibo from Harvard-Westlake of Studio City as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year was the right call to make.

Rebibo’s squad played No. 1 Sierra Canyon about as closely as any other California squad this season. Photo: hw.com.

Rebibo is the second CIFSS coach in three seasons, and the sixth coach since 2009, to earn the state’s top coaching honor, and the first from the San Fernando Valley since 2016. That season, Russell White from Crespi of Encino, someone who ironically is one of Rebibo’s mentors, was the honoree. White, now coaching at Cal Lutheran, gave Rebibo his first coaching gig as a varsity assistant/freshman team head coach in 2006-07.

“I am incredibly humbled and grateful for this tremendous honor,” Rebibo told Cal-Hi Sports. “This is a testament to our school, the administration, our coaching staff and an incredibly talented group of young men who were tough, selfless, and believed in one another. They deserve all the credit for making me and our staff look like we knew what we were doing.”

There is little doubt COVID-19 is affecting the thought process of this year’s postseason honors, and two of the other “big nine” coaches were seriously considered for this year’s top coaching honor. Let’s say state No. 3 Sheldon was able to complete its season, and it had gotten past No. 9 Bishop O’Dowd in the NorCal open finals and upset top-ranked Sierra Canyon or played the Trailblazers down to the wire in the CIF Open title game. In that scenario, we could easily envision Joey Rollings as being the choice. The other coach seriously considered was Josh Giles from Centennial of Corona, whose team was one of the hottest in the country in December and January. The Huskies, however, lost three of their final four games and two of those losses were against Rebibo’s Wolverines.

Harvard-Westlake finished 25-7 and ranked No. 5 in the state, one spot ahead of the Centennial team it beat three times during the season, and closed its season by giving a valiant effort vs. state No. 1 Sierra Canyon in the SoCal open semifinals. Helping make Rebibo and his staff look golden were a veteran group of players who meshed well together and played to the maximum of their potential nearly every night out.

Princeton-bound Mason Hooks (18 ppg, 11 rpg, 3 apg) was the ringleader and one of the most consistent post players in the state. Senior Brase Dottin (12 ppg, 4 rpg) had some big scoring outings during the second half of the season and Trumann Gettings (10 ppg, 7 rpg) continues to develop into one of the better 2021 prospects in SoCal. Rebibo’s backcourt was led by the steady leadership and experience of senior Spencer Hubbard (8 ppg, 5apg) and Cam Thrower (9 ppg, 3 apg), who came on as one of the rapidly-developing 2022 players in the state.

Giles and Rebibo actually had plenty in common this season. Not only were their teams battling for prime CIFSS open playoff positioning, they were both a bit perplexed their respective team had to face each other for a third time in the opening round of the SoCal open regional playoffs (a game Harvard-Westlake won 63-55). Among the teams that developed into the state’s elite, both Centennial and Harvard-Westlake had to replace projected 2019-20 starters earlier than expected.

While Centennial had to replace a bit more (three potential starters), Harvard-Westlake had to replace a player that left high school early, and it wasn’t just any starter. In fact, it was one who earned a scholarship to the University of Kentucky (Johnny Juzang) and it’s a testament to how well Rebibo and his staff prepared and put its players in position to succeed that the team enjoyed the type of year it had.

There is no question coaching elite programs is tougher than ever before and with sky high expectations, the presence of social media and more parental input than ever, the pressure-cooker of big-time high school basketball has never been hotter. In that token, it was easy to see how much Rebibo (and Giles as well) enjoyed coaching this past season and neither was shy about expressing that in post-game interviews or on social media.

After coaching at Crespi under White, Rebibo was the head coach at El Camino Real of Woodland Hills for six seasons, where his program advanced to at least the section semifinals four times. He led the Conquistadors to the 2012 CIF L.A. City Section D2 title with a 62-53 win over L.A. Garfield and enjoyed his most success at ECR in his final season with the program in 2012-13. That season, City Section Player of the Year Michael Thomas and junior Julian Richardson led El Camino Real to the section D1 final (where it fell to state power L.A. Westchester) and to a 28-4 record and No. 20 final overall state ranking. After that season, Rebibo moved on to the college ranks at the University of San Francisco for two seasons before returning to the high school ranks at Harvard-Westlake.

The 2002 El Camino Real graduate was delighted to learn of his selection and was quick to point out two other major coaching mentors besides White, whom he credited with playing a big role in his development both on and off the court.

“I knew I wanted to get into coaching when Will Burr (the girls coach at Viewpoint of Calabasas) got me into coaching his youth league,” Rebibo said. “He took me under his wing and helped create my love for coaching and built a foundation for coaching and developing relationships. Last but not least, Rex Walters (a former all-state player from San Jose Piedmont Hills) who hired me at USF. He played a huge role in my development as a coach and continues to mentor and help me to this day.”

This season may not have produced state champions on the court, but that doesn’t mean players (and coaches) didn’t grow and develop. We’re certain few, if any, coaches around the state felt this season was as gratifying as Rebibo did, considering all the circumstances surrounding it.

BOYS BB STATE COACHES
OF THE YEAR ALL-TIME LIST

(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

Jonas Honick was honoree for the 2018-19 season. Photo: YouTube.com.

2020 – Dave Rebibo,
Studio City Harvard-Westlake (25-7)
2019 – Jonas Honick, Ross Branson (31-3)
2018 – Dave Kleckner, Etiwanda (30-4)
2017 – Arnold Zelaya, San Francisco Mission (35-1)
2016 – Russell White, Encino Crespi (33-4)
2015 – Chuck Rapp, San Mateo Serra (23-6)
2014 – Doug Mitchell, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (28-6)
2013 – Mike Haupt, San Diego St. Augustine (29-4)
2012 – Bill Mellis, Richmond Salesian (33-2)
2011 – Eric Cooper, La Verne Lutheran (27-5)
2010 – Dwan Hurt, Gardena Serra (34-2)
2009 – Steve Johnson, Rialto Eisenhower (31-4)
2008 – Dwight Nathaniel, Oakland McClymonds (32-0)
2007 – Harvey Kitani, Los Angeles Fairfax (28-5)
2006 – Peter Diepenbrock, Palo Alto (32-1)
2005 – Pete Newell, Santa Cruz (36-1)
2004 – Don Lippi, Alameda St. Joseph (28-6)
2003 – Zack Jones, San Diego Horizon (32-1)
2002 – Ed Azzam, Los Angeles Westchester (32-2)
2001 – Vance Walberg, Fresno Clovis West (31-3)
2000 – Frank Allocco, Concord De La Salle (31-1)
1999 – Clinton Williams, Oakland Fremont (28-4)
1998 – Jerry DeBusk, Rancho S.M. Santa Margarita (32-2)
1997 – Frank LaPorte, Alameda St. Joseph (31-4)
1996 – Russell Otis, Compton Dominguez (34-2)
1995 – Steve Filios, Mountain View St. Francis (27-8)
1994 – Hank Meyer, Carmichael Jesuit (31-7)
1993 – John Barrette, Palo Alto (31-0)
1992 – Tom Orlich, South Tahoe (30-1)
1991 – Tom McCluskey, Tustin (30-4)
1990 – Lou Cvijanovich, Oxnard Santa Clara (28-0)
1989 – Willie West, L.A. Crenshaw (25-2)
1988 – Reggie Morris, L.A. Manual Arts (27-3)
1987 – Gary McKnight, Santa Ana Mater Dei (31-1)
1986 – Mike Phelps, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (31-5)
1985 – Stephen Keith, Glendale (28-0)
1984 – Ron Palmer, Long Beach Poly (31-2)
1983 – Jorge Calienes, Rosemead Bosco Tech (25-5)
1982 – Dick Acres, Carson (26-2)
1981 – Maury Halleck, Santa Barbara San Marcos (25-1)
1980 – Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (24-2)
1979 – Dave Shigematsu, Oakland Castlemont (23-3)
1978 – Ben Tapscott, Oakland McClymonds (22-3)
1977 – George Terzian, Pasadena (29-3)
1976 – Bill Armstrong, Palm Springs (22-4)
1975 – John Mihaljevich, Palos Verdes (24-6)
1974 – Dan Risley, Elk Grove (30-0)
1973 – Tom Conway, Stockton Stagg (28-0)
1972 – Tom Cleary, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (27-2)
1971 – George McQuarn, L.A. Verbum Dei (29-2)
1970 – Spike Hensley, Berkeley (32-0)
1969 – Gordon Nash, La Mesa Helix (29-2)
1968 – Ralph Krafve, East Bakersfield (29-0)
1967 – Frank LaPorte, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (37-2)
1966 – Len Craven, Whittier Sierra (28-1)
1965 – Leo Allamanno, Oakland Fremont (21-2)
1964 – Bill Mulligan, Long Beach Poly (32-1)
1963 – Bill Armstrong, Compton (27-4)
1962 – Dick Edwards, Sacramento El Camino (23-1)
1961 – Paul Harless, Oakland McClymonds (19-1)
1960 – Bill Thayer, L.A. Fremont (17-1)

List continues back to 1920 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac.

Ronnie Flores is the managing editor of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at ronlocc1977@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores


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