Congratulations to all of the 2020 Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the year for girls basketball. These are the ones for each CIF division, although we do combine the Open and Division I. This is a group that includes a former NFL running back plus two coaches who have both been educators and have had winning teams for more than 25 years.
For more on this year’s overall State Coach of the Year announcement, CLICK HERE.
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Note: Open Division and Division I coaches are considered for the same category. For the other divisions, they are based on CIF state playoff divisions and not section playoffs. We know that competitive equity placements have altered the overall strength of teams in the lower divisions, but we have years and years of choosing coaches from D1 through D5 and it’s just a lot easier to simply continue in the same format. The differences in competitive equity for the Open/D1 category will be seen on the all-state teams with much larger numbers of players from those teams gaining honors.
OPEN DIVISION/DIVISION I
Vanessa Nygaard (Windward, Los Angeles)
As the overall State Coach of the Year, Nygaard also goes into this position for this category. During her eight years at Windward, Nygaard has also been an assistant for USA Basketball and during her tenure the teams captured a 2017 FIBA U16 Americas Gold Medal and a 2018 FIBA U17 World Championship Gold Medal. This also is the second straight year in which the divisional and State Coach of the Year is from the CIF Southern Section’s Gold Coast League following Alicia Komaki of Sierra Canyon last season. Watching the growing rivalry between those two programs and big-time coaches in the next few seasons will be something definitely to look forward to.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Alicia Komaki (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2018 McKinsey Hadley (Gardena Serra); 2017 Craig Campbell (Fresno Clovis West); 2016 Torino Johnson (Palisades, Pacific Palisades); 2015 Kelli DiMuro (West Hills Chaminade); 2014 Craig Campbell (Fresno Clovis West); 2013 Anders Anderson (Etiwanda); 2012 Cheryl Draper (Berkeley); 2011 Gail Hale (Moreno Valley Canyon Springs); 2010 Marty Verdugo (Santa Monica).
Rashaan Shehee (Bakersfield)
If you’ve followed the Kansas City Chiefs for the last 20 years or are a fan of the University of Washington, Shehee is a familiar name to you. The former running back at Foothill High in Bakersfield later became a standout at Washington and played for the Chiefs in the 1998 and 1999 seasons, including five starts in 1999.
After his NFL career and one season in the short-lived XFL (2001), Shehee has gone into teaching and for the past four years has been the head coach of the Bakersfield High girls basketball team. This year’s Drillers went 30-3 and won their third straight CIF Central Section title, capturing the D1 crown after repeating in D2. Bakersfield won its section title with a 53-43 victory against Arroyo Grande and then lost in the CIF SoCal D2 playoffs to Mater Dei Catholic of Chula Vista. Mater Dei Catholic head coach David Monroe has been honored previously plus both of the CIFD2 state finalists (Oakland Tech & Palisades) have had head coaches chosen just within the last four years).
Since the divisional coaching honors began in 1988, there have only been two previous coaches named for D2 coach of the year from the CIF Central Section and both of those were from Hanford — Tom Parrish in 2010 and Dwayne Tubbs in 2001.
This year’s 30-3 squad at BHS under Shehee was preceded by clubs that went 24-4, 20-5 and 23-5 in his first season. That’s an impressive 97-17 record over four seasons.
Another fact that showed us something about Shehee is that Drillers had such a strong season despite no one player averaging in double figures. Most of the girls will be returning next year, including Rashaan’s daughter, Kailynn, a guard, so it should be another elite group, but one that projects to be in the Central Section Open Division and therefore in the same division as perennial state-ranked powerhouse Clovis West.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Jose Herrera (Alhambra Mark Keppel); 2018 Roger DiCarlo (San Marcos); 2017 Allison Johnson (Fairfield Vanden); 2016 Mark Lehman (San Bernardino Cajon); 2015 Miguel Granillo (Tracy Kimball); 2014 Kelli DiMuro (Chaminade, West Hills); 2013 Michelle Massari (Sacramento); 2012 Leonard DeCoud (Riverside J.W. North); 2011 Wade Nakamura (San Jose Presentation); 2010 Tom Parrish (Hanford).
Matt Dale (Paloma Valley, Menifee)
We don’t know if Paloma Valley’s Coach Dale has anything in common with the mythical head coach Norman Dale from one of the best sports movies ever made, “Hoosiers,” but the girls at Paloma Valley sure did everything right this season like that fictional Hickory, Indiana squad. They didn’t get a Hollywood ending with the D3 state final vs. St. Mary’s of Berkeley cancelled, but they did win their last game and made it into the state record book with 34 wins.
Dale also has become the first coach ever from the Inland Empire to be D3 State Coach of the Year for girls hoops. There have been others in other divisions, however, such as Dawnesha Buckner from Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga for 2017 in D4 and State Coach of the Year Mark Lehman of San Bernardino Cajon in 2016.
A social science teacher at Paloma Valley, Dale has helped bring up a Wildcats’ program that was 9-17 and 6-20 in his first two seasons. They improved to 19-10 for last season prior to this season’s breakout of 34-3.
One of the team’s losses came in January to league rival Riverside Poly, 57-48. In a later rematch, however, Paloma Valley crushed the Bears 67-37. In the CIF Southern Section D4AA playoffs, the Wildcats faced state scoring leader Chloe Briggs (a freshman) and her team from Ontario Christian in the title game and rolled to a 64-47 victory. The Wildcats earned their spot opposite St. Mary’s of Berkeley with a 60-48 triumph over Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates in the CIF SoCal D3 final.
Dale’s program isn’t going to be D3 next season due to competitive equity and we’d assume that the team will play more of the state’s top-tier D1 schools. Among those who are slated to be back are junior Miya Pierfax (17.0 ppg), junior Sydney Woodley (15.4 ppg, 10.9 rebounds) and junior Trinitee Bradley (9.4 ppg).
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Orlando Gray (Oakland); 2018 John Langston (Sacramento West Campus); 2017 Rich Yoon (Rosary Academy, Fullerton); 2016 Kelly Sopak (Orinda Miramonte); 2015 LyRyan Russell (S.F. Sacred Heart Cathedral); 2014 Andrew Butcher (Santa Barbara); 2013 Malik McCord (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2012 Malik McCord (Oakland Bishop O’Dowd); 2011 Tom Howard (Orange Lutheran); 2010 Tony Scott (Inglewood).
Rick Berry (Cloverdale)
When the CIF NorCal regional pairings came out, one of those coaches who wasn’t happy was Berry. His team at Cloverdale, you see, had won the CIF North Coast Section D5 title and instead of being in D5 was placed in D4. We hope him being the D4 State Coach of the Year may take some of the sting out of that.
Cloverdale didn’t go on a magical run in the D4 regionals, but despite suffering a loss to Argonaut of Jackson in the second-round this still became a good year to pin a state coaching honor on Berry, who has been coaching multiple sports at Cloverdale for nearly 30 years and has won more than 300 games in girls basketball since the 2004-05 season.
Since the 2004-05 season, the Eagles have posted a record of 333-109 under Berry. This includes this year’s 25-4 campaign plus 27-6 for last season. Cloverdale also has had 20-win seasons for 2018, 2017, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2005. The best record has been 28-3 for 2010.
We have had several from the NCS honored for D4 coach of the year in recent seasons, especially before competitive equity divisions. The most recent was Steve Pezzola from Salesian of Richmond in 2016.
Berry also has coached football and baseball during his years at Cloverdale. His 23-year football head coaching career is just another reason why the school annually presents the Rick Berry Commitment to Excellence Award. We think he’s been pretty excellent over the years as well.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 LeRoy Hurt (Oakland Tech); 2018 Buck Matthews (Portola Valley Woodside Priory); 2017 Dawnesha Buckner (Los Osos, Rancho Cucamonga); 2016 Stephen Pezzola (Richmond Salesian); 2015 David Esparza (Anaheim Fairmont Prep); 2014 Jim Hart (Scotts Valley); 2013 McKinsey Hadley (Gardena Serra); 2012 Terri Bamford (La Jolla Country Day); 2011 Steve Smith (Los Angeles Windward); 2010 Melissa Hearlihy (North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake).
(Monte Vista Christian, Watsonville)
Similar to D4 with Rick Berry, we looked for a longtime educator to perhaps choose for this division and found one in Keithley. She’s been coaching since the 1993-94 school year and has been leading the girls basketball team at MVC for 11 years.
This also is the fourth time in the last 10 years that someone from the CIF Central Coast Section has topped our D5 girls coaching honors. Two of those selections went to Pinewood of Los Altos Hills’ Doc Scheppler with the second time going to him when he added the overall State Coach of the Year honor to an earlier listing for D5 only. The last time for the CCS in this category was Donovan Blythe from Eastside College Prep of East Palo Alto for 2015.
Keithley’s girls this season posted an 18-12 record and lost in the CIF NorCal D5 semifinals by just one point to NorCal D5 winner Branson of Ross. She has been a consistent winner since taking over as girls head coach at Monte Vista Christian in 2009-10, including 18 wins or more in eight of the last nine seasons with two 22-4 seasons in 2016 and 2013.
For 14 years after coaching at MVC back in 1993-94, Keithley was coaching at schools in her native state of Texas. She and husband Don came back to California prior to that 2009-10 school year. He is a coach/educator as well and has been Monte Vista Christian’s baseball head coach for several years. Their daughter Avery is set to graduate later this spring from Concordia University in Irvine in exercise science so it appears she may be getting into coaching as well.
Last 10 honorees: 2019 Anna Almeida (Caruthers); 2018 Amy Bush (Hanford Sierra Pacific); 2017 Richard Masson (San Pedro Rolling Hills Prep); 2016 Jon Sampang (Sun Valley Village Christian); 2015 Donovan Blythe (East Palo Alto Eastside Prep); 2014 Doc Scheppler (Los Altos Hills Pinewood); 2013 Alicia Komaki (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon); 2012 Que Ngo (Stockton Brookside Christian); 2011 Julianne Berry (Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame); 2010 Doc Scheppler (Los Altos Hills Pinewood).