This Friday, March 25th will be the 100 year anniversary of the first ever California High School State Basketball Championship game. It was a Boys game and Whittier, on its home court, defeated Berkeley 31-20.
Things have changed and have changed a lot since that first game a century ago. Now we have twelve championship games (six boys and six girls) and they are all played in two sessions at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, which is the home of the NBA Kings.
There will be more championship games this week than there were in the tryout for the State Championships in 1916. From 1916-1928 there were eleven championship games. There was one game each year except for 1918 and 1919, in which there were no games. Stockton was the big team back then winning four titles and losing in the championship game once.

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The last local team to win a state title, Rincon Valley Christian in 1997.

Then the state championship game went away and didn’t continue until 1981. Although there was only two championship games that year (one boys and one girls), that was the beginning of the annual state championship series which has led to today. In 1982 and 1983 there was one Division added each season. In 1988 it was moved to five divisions and the only change that has happened since was in 2013 when the Open Division was included. It appears that one more Division will be added soon, that being Division VI, which had its first Nor Cal Championship this year.
The Cardinal Newman Girls are playing for a state championship and this is something not to take for granted. It is rare for a local team to be in the state championship game. Counting the early years there has been 332 state championship games, that’s Boys and Girls combined. This will be the 13th time a local team has made it this far.
When the modern era of the state playoffs started it looked promising that a local team would make quite a few visits. The Division III playoffs started in 1983 and that happened to be when the Craig McMillan Cloverdale Boys teams came along. After winning the Nor Cal title in 1982, they won the first two Division 3 championships in 1983 and 1984.
The first game was on March 19th, 1983 when Cloverdale defeated Crossroads of Santa Monica 71-64. McMillan scored 37 points and shot 18 free throws. Both are second best marks ever in state championship games. That is not close to the all-time record for most points in a game. That belongs to Tracy Murray of Glendora who scored 64 points in the 1989 Division II game. Glendora still lost that game to Menlo 89-83. Murray went to college at UCLA and had a lengthy pro career with several teams. He was part of a NBA championship in 1995 with Houston. The Menlo team that beat Glendora that day is the same school that Cardinal Newman defeated on Saturday to get to this year’s state championship game.
Cloverdale isn’t the only local team to play in back to back state championship games. The Healdsburg Girls coached by Harry Tappin made the Division III championship games in 1991 and 1992 and lost both. The second game was to Brea Olinda 47-44. Brea Olinda has the most Girls State championships with nine. They were right in the middle of their heyday, winning five of six from 1989-1994, including a record tying four straight from 1991-1994. Two of those championships were in Division II, the other two in Division III.
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The Newman Girls just after winning the Norcal Title last week.

The last local team to win a state title is Rincon Valley Christian. That was a Division 5 championship in 1997. The team was coached by Doug Crouse and they defeated Christian of El Cajon 53-38. Erin Buescher pulled down 25 rebounds which is the all-time Division V record and equals the record when including all Divisions.
The last Girls team to make the championship was in 2000 and that was Petaluma, coached by Doug Johnson. They ran into a buzz saw losing to Bishop Montgomery of Torrance 57-45 in the Division III game. It was their third state championship in five seasons. They were only just beginning. The win over Petaluma was the first of four straight which equals the record for the most consecutive state championships.
The Montgomery Boys made one trip in 1998 and lost to Santa Margarita 61-52. In that game Joe Kelly hit 6 3’s for Montgomery which is still a Division 2 record. The overall record is seven which is held by Klay Thompson and yes it is that Klay Thompson. By the way when Cloverdale went to the state, the three pointer hadn’t come to high school yet
The Cardinal Newman Boys have been to four finals, which is more than any other local team. That is a good news, bad news thing. They have lost all four finals they have been in. They are tied with University (San Francisco) for the most appearances in the title game without a state championship. That is well behind the Girls mark. Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo is 0-7 in championship games.
One other team did win a state championship. That was Ursuline in 1992. That team was coached by Mark Rigby. In the championship game they edged Santa Ynez 61-59.
Overall, the local teams are 4-8 in the championship game. The Girls have had better luck going 2-3. The Boys are 2-5 with most of that record belonging to Cloverdale and Cardinal Newman.
Overall the south has won the most state titles. Since the championship series began in 1981, the South leads the North 184-137. That is the Boys and Girls combined. Last year it was a 6-6, which was the first year since 2012 that the South didn’t get the most wins.
DIVISION IIIcif 16 hoops
March 9, 1991…Palos Verdes 58 Healdsburg 42…Oakland Coliseum
March 21, 1992…Brea Olinda 47 Healdsburg 44…ARCO Arena, Sacramento
March 18, 2000…Bishop Montgomery 57 Petaluma 45…ARCO Arena, Sacramento
March 20, 1992…Ursuline 61 Santa Ynez 59…ARCO Arena, Sacramento
March 26, 2016…Cardinal Newman vs. Antelope Valley…10 am…Sleep Train Arena
March 21, 1997…Rincon Valley Christian 53 Christian, El Cajon 38…Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim
March 20, 1998…Santa Margarita 61 Montgomery 52…ARCO Arena, Sacramento
March 19, 1983…Cloverdale 71 Crossroads 64…LA Sports Arena
March 17, 1984…Cloverdale 53 Pasadena Poly 52…Oakland Coliseum
March 17, 1989….Santa Clara, Oxnard 62 Cardinal Newman 49…Ventura College
March 15, 1996…Washington Union, Fresno 56 Cardinal Newman 42…ARCO Arena, Sacramento
March 24, 2007…Campbell Hall, North Hollywood 70 Cardinal Newman 34…ARCO Arena, Sacramento
March 23, 2013…Pacific Hills, West Hollywood 58 Cardinal Newman 52…Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento
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