Congratulations to all of the Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the Year for boys basketball for the 2021-22 season. We have one selected for each CIF division and had full state playoffs to go through to look for honorees for the first time in two years.
For more on this year’s overall State Coach of the Year announcement, CLICK HERE.
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OPEN DIVISION/DIVISION I
Mike LeDuc (Damien, La Verne)
Our overall 2021-22 State Coach of the Year naturally also goes down as the top choice among teams in the state that were in the Open Division of the CIF state playoffs as well as Division I. Open Division state championship head coach Josh Giles was our State Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 school year.
Last 11 honorees: 2021 Josh Giles (Corona Centennial); 2020 Dave Rebibo (Studio City Harvard-Westlake); 2019 Jonas Honick (Ross Branson); 2018 Dave Kleckner (Etiwanda); 2017 Steve Singleton (Eastvale Roosevelt); 2016 Russell White (Encino Crespi); 2015 Dave Kleckner (Etiwanda); 2014 Nick Jones (Danville Monte Vista); 2013 James Hecht (Santa Monica); 2012 Tony Amundsen (Fresno Bullard); 2011 Gary McKnight (Santa Ana Mater Dei); 2010 Reggie Morris Jr. (Lawndale Leuzinger).
Yousef Etemadi (Foothill, Tustin)
It was only three seasons ago when Foothill was languishing in mediocrity with a 7-21 record. It hasn’t taken long for the Knights to be more than mediocre as they won 31 games this season and reached the CIF D2 state final (loss to Elk Grove).
Etemadi came over to Foothill for the 2019-20 season from nearby Northwood of Irvine where had been an assistant under the late Tim O’Brien, a longtime Orange County coach who was the D3 State Coach of the Year in 1991 after leading Estancia of Costa Mesa to a CIF state title. O’Brien, who had nearly 500 wins in his career, died of cancer in 2020 at age 66.
Foothill had a squad that was known for tenacious defense and balanced scoring, although senior Cruz Billings could be explosive and was recently named as a John Wooden Award winner for the CIF Southern Section. The Knights bounced back to win the CIF SoCal D2 regional title after losing to Long Beach Poly in the CIFSS D2-AA semifinals (the Jackrabbits were D1 for the regionals).
It’s hard to know for sure, but we think that Yousef is the first state coach of the year that has ever been honored who was born in Afghanistan. He was born there in 1978, but left the country as an infant when Russia invaded the country. Etemadi’s grandfather (according to a story in the Orange County Register), Noor Ahmad, was prime minister of the country at the time.
The Etemadi family eventually settled in Orange County. Yousef played basketball and graduated from Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo) and was good enough to play at Saddleback College, at Cal Poly Pomona and for Afghan national teams. He also played overseas professionally. In addition to basketball coaching, Etemadi works in digital advertising.
Etemadi is just the fourth from Orange County to be the D2 State Coach of the Year in the last 25 years. The other three have been Mark Hill from Esperanza of Anaheim for 2017, Randy Wellen from Sunny Hills of Fullerton for 2004 and Jerry DeBusk of Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) for 1998.
Last 12 honorees: 2021 Tim Kelly (Carmichael Jesuit); 2020 Jeff Staniland (Oxnard); 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 Serra); 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).
David Galley (Venice)
The major newspaper of Southern California, the Los Angeles Times, has already honored Galley as its coach of the year and that’s regardless of what division the Gondoliers played in for the CIF L.A. City Section or in the CIF state playoffs.
This is also a historic honor for Galley and for the L.A. City Section. Partly due to the previous CIF playoff formats in which smaller L.A. City Section schools didn’t have much of a chance to get out of the section playoffs, Galley is the first head coach from the section to ever have been chosen as the D3 State Coach of the Year.
Note that CIF D3 state championship coach Tim Keating from Pleasant Valley of Chico was the honoree in this category for 2018 and it is our longstanding policy not to choose any coach in any sport more than once. It’s only twice when a coach has been named State Coach of the Year (overall).
Galley has been the head coach of the Gondoliers since 2008. This year’s team, which appeared in a CIF state final for the first time in school history (lost to Pleasant Valley), was considered the best in the school’s history going back more than 70 years. Being in the same league in the L.A. City Section as perennial powers Fairfax and Westchester for most of those years has made it tough for the other schools and even this year Fairfax won the Western League and was the L.A. City Open Division champion. Venice, however, got a win over Westchester for the first time in 30 years and only lost to Fairfax in overtime. The Gondos (21-10) fell in the L.A. City Open playoffs to Birmingham of Lake Balboa, but all of those close games helped them when they got into the CIF D3 SoCal playoffs.
Making Galley’s and Venice’s season more impressive is that he had to do it while still dealing with some of the toughest COVID-19 protocols in the nation that were instituted by the Los Angeles Unified School District. It’s only been in the last couple of weeks that some of them have been lifted.
Last 12 honorees: 2021 Don Dumas (Chula Vista Bonita Vista); 2020 Rich Buckner (Berkeley St. Mary’s); 2019 Randy Bessolo (San Francisco University); 2018 Tim Keating (Chico Pleasant Valley); 2017 Arnold Zelaya (San Francisco Mission); 2016 David Brigante (Santa Barbara); 2015 Matt Dunn (La Verne Damien); 2014 Todd Wolfson (West Hills Chaminade); 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).
Brock Flint (Scripps Ranch, San Diego)
Despite a San Diego Section coach, Terry Tucker of San Ysidro, collecting this honor just last year, Flint did such an outstanding job integrating three players from Scripps Ranch’s CIF D2-A state football title team into a unit that took this year’s CIF D4 state title that picking a second straight honoree from San Diego did not matter.
Flint also follows in the path of Scripps football coach Marlon Gardinera, who was the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year earlier this school year.
The football part of it was just one storyline surrounding the Falcons this season. The team also was coming back from a very difficult, COVID-influenced spring season that was going on right now just one year ago. Scripps Ranch could only finish 4-16 and had losses to Open Division teams of 93-24 and 102-58. Plus, Flint had to navigate the role of being head coach to the other players and being a dad to senior Caden Flint, one of the leading scorers on the team.
In just his second season, though, Flint directed Scripps to many firsts for the program. The first appearance in a CIF San Diego Section final (the Falcons lost in D3 to San Dieguito Academy of Encinitas) was followed by a run in the CIF D4 SoCal regionals. Scripps Ranch (26-11) advanced to its first-ever state final in D4 with a win against Valley Torah of Valley Village and then won its first state title by downing Justin-Siena of Napa, 46-37. Caden had five points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
“Before the game we talked about three things,” Flint said in his post-game press conference at the Golden 1 Center. “It was grit, determination, and love. We don’t think much about losing, we just kind of come out and play and we believe.”
Prior to Tucker, the most recent San Diego Section D4 coach of the year was Jim Tomey from Francis Parker in 2006. He recently announced his retirement.
Last 12 honorees: 2021 Terry Tucker (San Ysidro); 2020 Luke Williams (Stockton Brookside Christian); 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).
Charles Johnson (Stuart Hall, San Francisco)
When the CIF state title coach in a division is someone who’s been considered before, someone who’s been coaching at his school for 21 years and someone who hasn’t been picked before, it’s pretty much automatic for that coach to get one of these honors.
Such a situation is what happened for Johnson. He’s not only the only coach that Stuart Hall has ever had in boys basketball (the program began in 2002) but he also has been the school’s athletic director. Johnson was previously considered for a divisional coach of the year selection in 2018 when the Knights went to the D4 state finals and lost to View Park of Los Angeles.
This year’s team at Stuart Hall (22-12) found success after finishing fourth in the ultra-competitive small school Bay Counties West League. There also was a stretch of games in January in which the Knights were hit hard by COVID.
One of those league teams, University of San Francisco, dispatched Stuart Hall in the CIF North Coast Section D4 playoffs, but with University having to go up in divisions for the regional playoffs and Stuart Hall being in D5 ended up being a perfect storm. The Knights won their second regional title in five years with a 44-37 victory over Priory of Portola Valley and won their first state crown by topping Chaffey of Ontario, 56-45.
There have been many coaches from the CIF North Coast Section (such as Johnson) who have been D5 coach of the year, including Mike Fulton from San Domenico of San Anselmo just two years ago. Johnson, however, is only the second since 1988 (when the current five-division format began) from a San Francisco school in the NCS. The only other one has been Colin Jones from University in 2002.
Last 12 honorees: 2021 Alfonso Alvarado (Fowler); 2020 Mike Fulton (San Anselmo San Domenico); 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 (La Canada Renaissance Academy); 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).