Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

Quick-hitting, behind-the-scenes news and notes from the CalHiSports.com staff, including previews of upcoming content and events.

Kawhi’s Mr. Basketball writeup (2009)

Kawhi Leonard has gone from being Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year at M.L. King of Riverside to become an MVP candidate for the San Antonio Spurs. Photo: Scott Kurtz.


Here’s a look at the article we did in 2009 when we chose Riverside M.L. King’s Kawhi Leonard as the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year. It might seem today as if it was an easy choice at the time. It wasn’t. Leonard was not a McDonald’s All-American and he was lower than many others on national recruiting lists.

Editor’s Note: This also is one of the best articles that managing editor Ronnie Flores has ever done for our site.

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More Baseball Coaches of Year

In addition to overall State Coach of the Year John Weber of Cypress, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2019 season going to Pat Fuentes of Los Banos (medium schools) and Greg Mugg of Sunnyvale The King’s Academy (small schools).
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Two from US women’s soccer from same California school

California leads the way for the 2019 US women’s soccer national team that will try to win the World Cup this month in France with five former high school players on the roster. Georgia is second with three. Two of the five from California are from Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton.
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More State Softball Coaches of Year

In addition to overall State Coach of the Year Matt Sweeney of Pleasanton Foothill, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2019 season going to Robert Vernon of Ripon (small schools) & Ed Medina from Godinez of Santa Ana (medium schools).
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CIF State Academic Champions

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) today announced 35 State Academic Team Champions for the 2018-2019 school year. The CIF State Academic Team Champions program was initiated in 1996 as a way to reward teams with the highest collective grade-point-averages, based on an unweighted 4.0 scale, in their respective sport.

CIF State Academic Team Champions will receive a banner, suitable for display in their school gym, to recognize this accomplishment. All nominees were their respective CIF Section Academic Team Champions. Section offices forwarded their winners in all sports to the state office for consideration.

The Southern Section had 16 teams represented, followed by seven teams from the North Coast Section. The Central Coast and Central Sections had three teams each, followed by Sac-Joaquin, San Diego, and San Francisco Sections with two teams apiece.

Mission San Jose (NCS), Poly Pasadena (SS) and Whitney (SS), each had four teams accomplish a state-high team GPA. Pasadena Poly also was tops in three of the five sports that are primarily covered by CalHiSports.com — Football, Boys Basketball, Softball.

Three girls cross country teams accomplished a 4.00 GPA; Bakersfield, Moreau Catholic of Hayward and San Francisco International. The gymnastics team from Wilcox of Santa Clara also achieved a 4.00 GPA, along with the boys’ cross country team from San Francisco International.

Below is a list of the top team GPAs in each CIF approved sport (listed by GPA):

Boys Cross Country San Francisco International 4.00

Girls Cross Country (tie) Bakersfield 4.00 & Moreau Catholic of Hayward 4.00 & San Francisco International 4.00

Gymnastics Wilcox of Santa Clara 4.00

Boys Golf Webb of Claremont 3.95

Girls Tennis Whitney of Cerritos 3.94

Boys Swim & Dive Centennial of Bakersfield 3.93

Boys Water Polo Whitney of Cerritos Southern 3.93

Girls Water Polo Poly of Pasadena 3.93

Girls Swim & Dive Liberty of Bakersfield 3.92

Boys Volleyball Whitney of Cerritos 3.92

Boys Tennis Hart of Newhall 3.91 & Whitney of Cerritos 3.91

Girls Basketball Crean Lutheran of Irvine 3.91

Girls Golf Villa Park 3.91

Girls Volleyball Yeshiva (YULA) of Los Angeles 3.91

Softball Poly of Pasadena 3.90

Girls Soccer ABLE Charter of Stockton 3.89

Girls Track & Field Sacramento Country Day 3.88

Boys Track & Field Mission San Jose of Fremont 3.87 & St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano Southern 3.87

Boys Basketball Poly of Pasadena 3.86

Girls Wrestling Mission San Jose of Fremont 3.85

Boys Soccer Mission San Jose of Fremont 3.83 & Woodside Priory of Portola Valley 3.83

Badminton Archbishop Mitty of San Jose 3.82

Baseball Viewpoint of Calabasas 3.82

Girls Lacrosse Branson of Ross 3.82

Girls Field Hockey La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad 3.79

Boys Wrestling Mission San Jose of Fremont 3.74

Trad. Competitive Cheer Heritage Christian of Northridge 3.68

Football Poly of Pasadena 3.68

Boys Lacrosse Santa Fe Christian of Solana Beach 3.66

Competitive Sport Cheer Carondelet of Concord 3.53


More Baseball State Teams of Year

In addition to overall No. 1 and Division I No. 1 De La Salle of Concord, others that can say they are mythical state champions for 2018 are Santa Margarita of Rancho SM (Division II), Los Banos (D3), Winters (D4) and Rio Hondo Prep of Arcadia (D5). Read more…


More Softball State Teams of Year

In addition to overall No. 1 Norco, others that can claim they are mythical state champions for 2019 are Cypress (Division II), Oakdale (D3), Ripon (D4) and East Nicolaus of Nicolaus (D5).
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All-NBA: Cali rules, but where’s Klay?

This year’s All-NBA teams were announced earlier this week and it’s just another example of the great players from California high schools who are making this such a golden era for the Golden State (pun intended).

NBA superstar Klay Thompson speaks at ceremony held at Santa Margarita when the school retired his No. 1 jersey. Photo: @SMCHSAthletics/Twitter.com.


The first team, second team and third team of five players each is based on voting by media members (broadcast & print) who regularly cover the NBA. The first five highest point totals are first team, the next five highest vote totals are second team and next five highest are third team. There’s no indication in the point totals who ranked 16th and may have just missed. It also doesn’t list positions for each player, meaning that there didn’t have to be a required number of centers, forwards or guards on any team.

James Harden (Artesia, Lakewood) was one of two players who received 100 first-place votes, which means all 100 voters named him on the first team. Harden, who led Artesia to the CIF Division III state title in 2007 and who was the MVP of the NBA for last season, was joined with 100 first-place votes by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

But Harden wasn’t the only Californian on first team. Paul George (Knight, Lancaster) was named first team by 71 voters after the sensational season he had for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There also were two Californians on second team — Kawhi Leonard (M.L. King, Riverside) of the Toronto Raptors and Damian Lillard (Oakland) of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Making it five out of 15 on the third team was triple-double machine Russell Westbrook (Leuzinger, Lawndale) of the Thunder.

Much of the conversation after the teams were announced, however, was about another California player who wasn’t in the first 15. That would be Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) of the Golden State Warriors. Thompson maybe didn’t score as much or rebound as much as some others on third team — such as Blake Griffin, Rudy Gobert and Kemba Walker — but he’s a huge reason that the Warriors have advanced to their fifth straight NBA Finals and could win their third straight world championship. The exclusion of Thompson also is much more significant than just talking points because being on one of the top three teams is part of the criteria for a player to get a so-called super max contract. That doesn’t seem fair or make sense, but the players themselves did vote in favor of the bargaining methods that the league and teams will use to determine super max players.

In thinking about Thompson some more, you’d already have to say that he’s firmly on track to eventually be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and that he’s the best player ever from an Orange County high school. George Yardley (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) is the county’s only Hall of Famer as of now, but Thompson has had an even better career so far and there’s more still to come. There’s not a Mater Dei player for sure who can match him.


Nocetti Named New CIF Exec. Director

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Executive Committee has named Ron Nocetti, current Associate Executive Director of the CIF, as the Federation’s ninth Executive Director. Nocetti replaces retiring Executive Director Roger L. Bake and will begin his new position August 1.

One of the last projects of Nocetti’s current position was to present a CIF state baseball/softball championship proposal.


“It is an honor to be selected as the new Executive Director and I am excited to continue serving side by side with the entire CIF family who works so relentlessly to provide opportunities for our students to participate in education-based athletics,” said Nocetti. “I also join the entire organization in thanking Roger for his 43 years of service to secondary education in California. He worked tirelessly on behalf of our member schools and their student-athletes and we wish him and his wife, Karen, the best in their retirement years.”

The CIF Executive Committee began the search for the new candidate in March after Blake announced his intent to retire at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Nocetti was recommended following the conclusion of the selection process and will be ratified at the June 2019 Executive Committee Meeting.

“Ron Nocetti’s dedication to education-based athletics in California is an example for all involved,” said CIF State President James Perry. “We are excited to work with Ron in continuing the CIF mission to engage the 1,606 CIF-member schools in an effort to provide positive opportunities for all our student-athletes.”

Blake adds, “There is not a more qualified person for this job than Ron Nocetti. He is well prepared and will do an outstanding job. I’m retiring from the CIF knowing that his leadership will only improve the experiences for the students and schools participating in education-based activities in California.”

Nocetti received his bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in sport management and a doctorate in educational leadership all from the University of San Francisco. He has been involved in education since 1991 as a teacher, coach, athletic director, and administrator.

In 2008, Nocetti was hired by the CIF State Office as the Director of Championship Events, promoted to Senior Director and became the Associate Executive Director in 2012. His path to the top position is similar to Blake’s, who was promoted from Associate Executive Director in 2012 when he took over from Marie Ishida.

Comments: It is believed that most if not all of the previous leaders of the CIF state office came from a background primarily in public schools administration. Nocetti is a graduate of Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) and also was dean of students at that school. He later became athletic director at Jesuit (Carmichael) and then from Jesuit was hired by the CIF state office. It’ll be interesting to see if Ron’s background gives him a different perspective on some of the issues facing the organization. He’s also a few years younger than when some others have become executive director, which means he may be in the top job with the CIF for a longer time (perhaps 10 years). He has been great to work with on our coverage of the CIF state football bowl games, but we doubt he’s going to be spending much time looking at that board as the new executive director.


Super Bowl 2019: Was It That Bad?

Sports fans from all over the world look forward to watching the Super Bowl every year. It is the perfect mixture of ultimate sporting ability and entertainment. However, the 2019 edition has been greeted with less than satisfactory reviews across the board; from both avid NFL fans and casual viewers of America’s game. But why was the New England Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams so badly received?
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