Boys BB: More State Coaches of Year

Head coach John Parsons of Half Moon Bay (left) celebrates after one of the team’s CIF regional playoff victories. At right, Tesoro of Las Flores head coach Steve Garrett instructs his team during CIFSS playoff game. Photos: & Ryan Kuhn /

Congratulations to all of the Cal-Hi Sports State Coaches of the Year for boys basketball for the 2022-23 season. We have one selected for each CIF division and like the all-state teams the Open Division & Division I are bunched together.


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Mike Hansen (Dougherty Valley, San Ramon)

The overall State Coach of the Year is always also the state coach of the year for a division. The Wildcats (27-4) were known for guards Ryan Beasley, Connor Sevilla and Blake Hudson, but the other two starts — Landon Edmond and Aadi Malali — also were able to hit big baskets in clutch moments. This also was team that elevated a bunch from 2022 when it lost in the CIF North Coast Section D1 final. “Our coach told us after that game, we’re going to be back and in the Open Division,” Sevilla said in a quote from SportStars Magazine. “Just to be here, it means everything. We’re a family. This is all a team effort. All our guys are bought in.” They sure were.

Last 13 honorees: 2022 Mike LeDuc (La Verne Damien); 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).

Steve Garrett (Tesoro, Las Flores)

For the second straight year, the nod for D2 in the state goes to a head coach from Orange County. Garrett checks off a lot of the reasons we look for in a coach of the year with a main one being continued success over a long career.

Garrett, who is himself a graduate of Clovis High in the CIF Central Section, is similar to overall State Coach of the Year Mike Hansen in that he started off as a head coach for a new school. For him, that was in the 2001-02 school year, which is when Tesoro High began.

This year’s team at Tesoro ended 31-5 and won the CIF Southern Section D2AA title with a 54-35 triumph over Orange Lutheran. While the Lancers were able to come back and beat Tesoro by one point, 51-50, in the CIF SoCal D2 regional semifinals, the overall season that the Titans had was enough for their coach to be honored. This year’s team also won the 10th South Coast League title of Garrett’s tenure and pushed his career coaching wins total to 355. He won his 300th game in the 2019 season.

There were a lot of similarities between Garrett’s team in 2009 at Tesoro that won a CIFSS title in that the players all grew up together and won with a combination of teamwork, tenacity and with a star player coming through in the clutch. For 2009 it was Chris Manresa and in 2023 it was Carson Brown, who broke Manresa’s school scoring record. This year’s team also had to overcome the loss of returning all-league player Kyle Gleason, who missed the entire season with a hip injury. Point guard Blake Manning, center Jake Bennett, forward Nathan Draper and guard Matthew Hanley rounded out the starting lineup.

Last 13 honorees: 2022 Yousef Etemadi (Tustin Foothill); 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).

Oakland High head coach Orlando Watkins answers a question during press conference following team’s win in CIF D3 state final. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Orlando Watkins (Oakland)

It’s been a super-exciting time for Watkins and the Wildcats in the aftermath of their CIF D3 state championship win over Buena of Ventura two weeks ago in Sacramento. He and the team were honored on Tuesday of this week by the Golden State Warriors at the Chase Center. Then the next day it was a visit from NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also visited with the CIF D1 state champion Oakland Tech girls.

The good times continue with Watkins getting selected as D3 State Coach of the Year. This year’s team didn’t just win a state title. It also finished with a 27-8 record and marked the second straight 27-win season for the program. Watkins, who has been coaching at Oakland High since 1999 when he became an assistant and since 2005 as the head coach, also is well-known for being the high school coach of current NBA superstar Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Lillard came through Watkins’ program in his early seasons (2006 to 2008) and the two stay in touch, which was demonstrated when the Oakland native sent a message to the team before it played in its state final. But in the years after Lillard graduated and before the four most recent seasons, it was rough going for the Wildcats, including posted records of 5-23 just five years ago and 2-24 in 2011-12. It would have been real easy for Watkins to do something else, but he stuck with it and to say it’s paid off would be an understatement.

All of the glory for the Oakland team (and now Watkins as D3 State Coach of the Year) can be traced to the team overcoming league rival Oakland Tech after losing three times to the Bulldogs earlier in the season before finally getting past them in the CIF NorCal D3 championship.

In an article on the website, Oakland High alum and podcaster Chris Carlay had this to say about Orlando Watkins: “Lillard is without a doubt the pride of that program for making it to the NBA and bringing notoriety to the school. Watkins has been able to establish himself as the pillar of the program. I think for winning the first state championship in Oakland High history, some thought should be made to naming the gym after Coach Watkins.”

Last 13 honorees: 2022 David Galley (Venice); 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).

John Parsons (Half Moon Bay)

The selection of Parsons is a nod to what he and his team did to help uplift their community after it was rocked on January 23 by one of the unfortunate way too often mass shootings in America. The shootings at two separate farms in Half Moon Bay resulted in seven deaths and one injured.

No one expected much from Half Moon Bay when the CIF NorCal D4 playoffs began as a No. 10 seed. But the Cougars bounced back after a loss to King’s Academy in the CIF Central Coast Section playoffs and went on a run. They recorded wins (all on the road) over San Domenico of San Anselmo (Marin County), Hillsdale of San Mateo and at Marin Catholic of Kentfield to gain a berth in the regional final, which would be an even longer trip three days later to Chico. Half Moon Bay won that game as well. While the state final was an expected blowout to Valencia, the run by the Cougars and what they represented to their town couldn’t be overlooked.

Parsons is a Half Moon Bay kid born and raised. He was a standout basketball player himself for the Cougars (Class of 2002) and has been inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. He was co-head coach of the boys team from 2007 to 2010 and was a girls assistant coach from 2015-17. After that, he came on as the varsity boys head coach to replace the very successful Rich Forslund.

In his very first season as head coach, Parsons and the Cougars put together a 25-6 record. In the six seasons since then, there have been three 20-win seasons, including 21-11 for this year.

Parsons is the first-ever D4 State Coach of the Year from San Mateo County. He is the first from the CCS since Bob Burlison from Palma of Salinas in 1992.

Last 13 honorees: 2022 Brock Flint (San Diego Scripps Ranch); 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).

Sierra High head coach Ryan Watt stands with his players after triumph in CIF D5 NorCal final. Photo:

Ryan Watt (Sierra, Tollhouse)

If you didn’t know it by now, but we are admittedly slanted in some of these coaching honors to those from legitimate small schools that may have lost in a state final to a large school and we like to point out the ones that had to manage their teams under extremely difficult travel situations during the short window of the CIF regional playoffs.

Watt checks those boxes easily. It didn’t look like Sierra (enrollment just over 300) would have much of a chance in the D5 CIF state final against Lynwood (has won D1 state titles before in girls hoops) and it wasn’t close. But getting to the Golden 1 Center required the following trips: at Fortune Early College of Sacramento on March 2, at Venture Academy of Stockton on March 4, and at Ripon Christian on March 7. The closest trip for the Chieftains from their small town in the Sierra Nevadas northeast of Fresno was to Ripon (125 miles).

We also like to perhaps save winning state title coaches for later since there is a limit of just once when a coach can be selected for a divisional state honor. Lynwood’s Jason Crowe Sr. is one of those. The only exceptions are for coaches who are later named the overall State Coach of the Year or if they are chosen many years later from a different school.

Coach Watt had a great perspective of playing a team like Lynwood after we talked to him afterwards. He’s been the head coach at Sierra since 2017. This year, the team’s 31-6 record easily was the best he’s had. Last year’s squad finished 23-8 and the year before that during the pandemic the Chieftains were 16-4. With junior standout Logan Kilbert coming back next season, if Sierra goes on a similar run, it will requires others to step up since a lot of the other key contributors were seniors.

Watt is the second D5 state coach of the year from the CIF Central Section in three years, following Alfonso Alvarado of Fowler from 2021.

Last 13 honorees: 2022 Charles Johnson (San Francisco Stuart Hall); 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).

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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