State Coach of the Year: Stan Delus

State Coach of the Year Stan Delus answers question (left) after team won Open Div state title. He is shown coaching earlier in season at right. Photos: Mark Tennis / Cal-Hi Sports &

The highest coaching honor in California, the one that now goes back 52 years, heads to the Inland Empire this time as Etiwanda’s Stan Delus is named for the 2022-23 season. It’s not a surprise since he hadn’t been named before and his team this year broke through to win the school’s first-ever CIF Open Division state title. He had a long and winding road, however, before taking over at Etiwanda in 2017.

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

We hope you like this free post on Please help us out today by becoming a member of our Gold Club so you can see all of our great content, including some of our upcoming all-state girls basketball teams. For more on special offer to get signed up for $3.99 for one month, CLICK HERE.

When Stan Delus took the head coaching job at Etiwanda in 2017, it was the second time he followed the lead of a girls head coach he considered a mentor.

Delus, who was born in Queens, New York, and moved to California with his native Haitian parents in the early 1980s, started out in the Inland Empire where his parents settled, and for high school he attended Claremont where he played four years of varsity basketball.

After moving on to and graduating from Long Beach State, Delus began his coaching career at the behest of his first mentor, Lindsay Strothers, who at the time was the head coach at Oak Park in Ventura County.

“Coach Strothers is my mentor to this day,” said Delus. “He got me interested in coaching girls basketball.”

That was over 20 years ago, and when Strothers decided to turn over the reins to his protégé, Delus began his high school coaching career in 2001 at the helm of Oak Park.

The Oak Park job lasted until 2004 when he moved to Canyon (Canyon Country) where he led the Cowboys’ girls up until 2009 when he took a job as the assistant coach at Mt. San Antonio College of Walnut. In 2012, while still at Mt. SAC, Delus took the head coaching job at Bellarmine-Jefferson (Burbank), and for two years it was practice in the morning at Bellarmine-Jefferson and then he would drive 40 miles to Mt. SAC for practice in the afternoon.

In 2016, then Etiwanda head coach Anders Anderson, who got the program on the map when it defeated Mater Dei of Santa Ana at home as a huge underdog in the 2013 CIF Southern Section playoffs, convinced Delus to join his staff as the heir apparent to the Eagles’ top job the next season. Stan bit, took over for his second mentor, and the rest is history.

Strothers did win a couple of state championships in Oregon in the mid-1980s, but now, after six seasons at the Etiwanda helm, Delus has not only done what his two mentors could not do, and that’s win a CIF state championship, the head coach of the 2023 CIF Open Division champions has been named the 2023 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.

Sophomore point guard Aliyahna “Puff” Morris gets instruction from State Coach of the Year Stan Delus during game earlier this season. Photo:

When Delus was told he was joining among many others since 1972, Southern California coaching legends like 2007 winner Carl Buggs of Long Beach Poly, and 1993 winner Ellis Barfield of Lynwood, Delus had this answer.

“It’s an honor and a privilege. It’s pretty cool,” Delus said. “I’ve admired so many of those coaches.

“When I was a young coach coming up I wanted to be on that stage,” Delus continued. “Now, at 48, I’ve finally made the grade and very grateful for all the relationships of players and coaches over the years.”

Since his first year as head coach at Etiwanda, his Eagles have compiled a 157-27 record, and other than the pandemic shortened 2020-21 season, Etiwanda has averaged around 28 wins a season and a little over four losses, including a 32-3 record last season.

With its buzzer-beating 69-67 victory over Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) to secure the CIF Open Division title, Delus ended the season with a 311-85 overall record, all coaching girls basketball and including his years at Oak Park, Canyon and Bell-Jeff.

Anderson, who took the Etiwanda job on short notice, had been looking for a successor, and he liked what he saw in Delus.

“Stan is a women’s coach,” remarked Anderson. “He coaches women, as opposed to the other people wanting to fill my spot who were looking to build their resume on the Etiwanda reputation as a step towards taking on a boys basketball program.”

“Stan personifies the impact of the Title IX intent,” continued Anderson. “Provide an equal educational experience to both girls and boys. He treats these women as the athletes they are, which as a father of four college athletes, I know will provide them an advantage in the next level and every stage of life they enter.”

Winning state championships takes talented players, but having talented players doesn’t guarantee success or state championships. The great teams over the years that have won multiple state championships have done it with a combination of talented players and excellent coaching, and that’s exactly the formula at Etiwanda. The success of Delus from the moment he took the job only validates that.

Yes, Delus had reigning State Sophomore of the Year and leading State Junior of the Year candidate Kennedy Smith, who had 21 points and nine rebounds in the 55-54 victory over Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) in the Southern Regional Open title game, and a monster double-double 30 points and 13 rebounds in the state championship. Plus, he had 2022 State Freshman of the Year and State Sophomore of the Year frontrunner Aliyahna “Puff” Morris (14 points, six rebounds and four assists against Mitty), and others in his arsenal. However, to win at the highest level as Etiwanda has now done, takes coaching strategy and how to use players in offensive and defensive sets and situations.

The girls didn’t call for a 2-3 zone press that held Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) USC-bound superstar Juju Watkins to 16 points in the rematch after Sierra Canyon defeated Etiwanda in the CIF Southern Section Open Division championship. The players didn’t know when to put on and take off the press against Mitty, or call the press on the inbounds play with 41.8 seconds left that created a turnover that was instrumental in leading to the game-winning basket as time expired by junior Jada Sanders.

Stan Delus has had several of the best girls basketball teams in the state the last five seasons at Etiwanda. Photo:

“Sometimes it’s harder to coach talent than coaching teams that don’t have talent,” Delus said.

“I want people to know we have had a history of success at Etiwanda and the program has been good since the 1990s, it just hasn’t been documented,” Delus continued. “We’ve sent over 100 kids to college over the last 30 years but we just haven’t been able to get over the hump.”

The coaching award was for himself and what he did to get Etiwanda over the hump, but Delus still wanted to talk about his players, and Smith and Morris in particular.

“Kennedy Smith is currently working on being arguably one of the best players to come out of the Inland Empire, the program, the state and the country,” Delus said. “Her tireless work ethic is unmatched, and she works on her craft daily to perform at an elite level.”

As for Morris, he said: “Her ability to put so much pressure on her opponents is second to none, and Puff has mental toughness to play through any tough situation.”

Looking back, there was not a State Coach of the Year from the Inland Empire from 1972 until 2016 when Mark Lehman of San Bernardino Cajon was the winner. In the 2021 COVID shortened season, Martin Woods of Corona Centennial was honored, and that means Delus is only the third winner ever from the Inland Empire. It’s just that all three have come in the last eight years.

Delus also has the distinction of being the first head coach from the Inland Empire to capture an Open Division championship since the CIF went to an Open Division for girls basketball for the 2013 season. Delus and his Eagles are also one of three teams from the Inland Empire to win the state’s top division. Canyon Springs of Moreno Valley was the Division I state champion in 2014 but from there you have to go all the way back to the days of legendary Cheryl Miller when the all-time great led Riverside Poly to the 1982 Division I state championship.

“This team and what it’s accomplished has been amazing,” Delus said. “It means everything to our community that has backed us a hundred percent.”

According to Delus, besides Smith and Morris, Etiwanda will return a third starter, junior Mykelle Richards, plus rotation players like juniors Ryann Riddle and Sania Jenkins, and sophomore Arynn Finley. He’s also looking at some future additions to build a tough foundation as a top contender next season.

“The Lady Eagles will work so hard next year as if we didn’t win a state championship this last season,” Delus said in conclusion. “We believe in moving forward, constant improvement and development, not getting comfortable, and maintaining a chip on our shoulders to grow and represent the Inland Empire and public schools alike.”

At Cal-Hi Sports we never pick a coach as State Coach of the Year twice, let alone in back-to-back years, but there’s nothing stopping Delus and his Lady Eagles from repeating as CIF Open Division champions – and right now Etiwanda could be the No. 1 team in the preseason rankings this fall.

(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

2022 State Coach of the Year Stephen Pezzola from Richmond Salesian had team that won CIF D1 state title. Photo: Mark Tennis / Cal-Hi Sports.

2023 – Stan Delus, Etiwanda (32-3)
2022 – Stephen Pezzola, Richmond Salesian (21-5)
2021 – Martin Woods, Corona Centennial (25-1)
2020 – Vanessa Nygaard, Los Angeles Windward (26-7)
2019 – Alicia Komaki, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (33-1)
2018 – McKinsey Hadley, Gardena Serra (25-8)
2017 – Craig Campbell, Fresno Clovis West (34-2)
2016 – Mark Lehman, San Bernardino Cajon (27-6)
2015 – Kelli DiMuro, West Hills Chaminade (27-4)
2014 – Doc Scheppler, Los Altos Hills Pinewood (30-3)
2013 – Malik McCord, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (30-3)
2012 – Terri Bamford, La Jolla Country Day (32-1)
2011 – Steve Smith, Los Angeles Windward (29-4)
2010 – Melissa Hearlihy,
North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (34-1)
2009 – Ron Hirschman, Danville Monte Vista (29-3)
2008 – Lorene Morgan, Long Beach Millikan (28-5)
2007 – Carl Buggs, Long Beach Poly (36-1)
2006 – Brian Harrigan, San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral (30-2)
2005 – Richard Wiard, Bishop Amat (35-0)
2004 – Tom Gonsalves, Stockton St. Mary’s (32-4)
2003 – Kevin Kiernan, Fullerton Troy (31-2)
2002 – Lisa Cooper, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (28-5)
2001 – Dwayne Tubbs, Hanford (31-2)
2000 – James Anderson, Harbor City Narbonne (34-0)
1999 – Sue Phillips, San Jose Archbishop Mitty (31-0)
1998 – Jeff Sink, Brea Brea-Olinda (33-1)
1997 – Yvette Angel, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (29-3)
1996 – Mary Hauser, Santa Ana Mater Dei (29-3)
1995 – Scott Brown, Moraga Campolindo (32-3)
1994 – Mike Ciardella, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep (38-0)
1993 – Ellis Barfield, Lynwood (31-0)
1992 – Wendell Yoshida, RH Estates Peninsula (33-0)
1991 – Gene Nakamura, Berkeley (30-2)
1990 – Frank Scott, Inglewood Morningside (32-3)
1989 – Mark Trakh, Brea Brea-Olinda (31-2)
1988 – Richard Hull, Willows (26-4)
1987 – Lee Trepanier, San Diego Pt. Loma (34-0)
1986 – Van Girard, Lynwood (28-4)
1985 – Tom Campbell, Chico Pleasant Valley (28-0)
1984 – Joe Vaughan, Ventura Buena (31-0)
1983 – Larry Newman, Anderson (26-1)
1982 – Tom Pryor, Cerritos Gahr (29-5)
1981 – Art Webb, L.A. Locke (19-2)
1980 – Spike Hensley, Berkeley (29-0)
1979 – Harvey Green, Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1978 – Joanne Kellogg, Huntington Beach (25-2)
1977 – Tami Yasuda, Fair Oaks Bella Vista (30-1)
1976 – Chuck Shively, Ventura (23-0)
1975 – Janet Balsley, San Diego Pt. Loma (34-0)
1974 – No selection
1973 – Mary Brown, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (12-0)
1972 – Judy Hartz, Ventura Buena (8-0)

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


    Latest News

    Insider Blog