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norcal’s greatest school mascots

Dream Date:

STAGG Delta Kings

O’Dowd vs. Mater Dei

For fun, here’s a quick look at CalHi’s Top 10 favorite NorCal school mascots of all-time. 1. Vintage Crushers It’s unique to the state and appropriate for the Napa wine region. It’s also one of the best school nicknames in the country. 2. Urban Gorillas The San Francisco school now goes by the more tame Urban Blues. It’s still good and unique, but not as great as the Gorillas.

You’re never supposed to root for anything as a member of the media, but it’s sometimes impossible not to root for certain matchups in CIF state finals that you would just love to see. That was the case in football with De La Salle-Concord vs. St. John Bosco-Bellflower last fall when the various CIF section playoffs began. And that’s the matchup we got in the CIF Open Division state bowl game. For boys basketball, the CIF Open Division final on March 29 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento would be equally terrific if it could be Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland vs. Mater Dei-Santa Ana. As this is being written, one or both of the teams could lose in a regional playoff game and get eliminated, but that’s doubtful. First, the Dragons and Monarchs already have played this season in the championship game of the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas with Mater Dei winning in overtime 63-59. Second, Mater Dei would be trying to complete a historic unbeaten season, the first in its illustrious history. Another historical feat the Monarchs would be shooting for is a fourth straight state title. That would tie the state record set in 2003 by Price-Los Angeles. Third, it would feature one of the top contenders for national player of the year honors, Mater Dei’s Stanley Johnson, along with Bishop O’Dowd’s Ivan Rabb, the No. 1-tranked junior in the nation by some scouting services. Johnson also would be trying to go 4-for-4 in winning CIF state titles in his prep career. Not even Jason Kidd at St. Joseph-Alameda came close to that. Fourth, it would feature two of the most successful programs in state history. When Mater Dei’s Gary McKnight became the state’s winningest coach ever a few years ago, he passed O’Dowd’s Mike Phelps. And while McKnight is on his way to 1,000 career wins, Phelps is still No. 2 on the all-time state list with 843. O’Dowd and Mater Dei have never met in the CIF state finals before because, until the advent of the Open Division two years ago, the Dragons were Division III from 1988 to 2012. There were two years in the 1980s when the two schools could have played, but Mater Dei kept running into Crenshaw-Los Angeles in the Southern California playoffs. In 1981, when the CIF began to stage basketball state finals, O’Dowd claimed the first one with a 70-69 win over Castlemont-Oakland. Mater Dei and the rest of the CIF Southern Section weren’t involved, however, and also skipped the state playoffs in 1985. Since then, Mater Dei has won 10 times against NorCal teams in state finals with the only losses to Palo Alto (2006 with Jeremy Lin), Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills (2007 with Ryan Anderson), Fremont-Oakland (1999 with Josh Shavies) and St. Joseph-Alameda (1992 with Kidd). O’Dowd, on the other hand, has been snake bit. The Dragons have lost in every CIF state final they’ve played in since that first one, an 0-7 mark that includes two losses in overtime and a one-point loss to Manual Arts-Los Angeles in 1988 that most people sitting courtside thought should have been a one-point win due to a tip-in at the buzzer being disallowed. ✪ Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports is the authority in state rankings for football, basketball, baseball and softball, as well as the recognized state record keeper for all high school sports. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.



March 20, 2014

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3. Stockton Tarzans This school closed in the 1950s and never should have. What a great tradition it would still have, especially with that name. 4. Hollister Haybalers The school is officially known as San Benito, but when the Haybalers are playing it just sounds better with Hollister. 5. Chester Volcanoes The town of Chester is nestled just to the southeast of Lassen Volcanic National Park. 6. Lincoln Zebras When you have a school with the most popular name (Lincoln), why not choose a unique mascot? 7. St. Rose Rascals The San Francisco all-girls school closed in 1990 and it was where Brian Harrigan started coaching girls hoops. 8. Foresthill Wildfires We love the name, but not sure it works when there really is a bad wildfire burning in the area. 9. Poly Parrots Another closed school, this one from San Francisco. The Poly Parrots of Los Angeles are still going.

Bishop O’Dowd Junior Ivan Rabb. Phil Walton photo

10. Stagg Delta Kings And it’s official that the Stockton school’s girls teams are the Delta Queens. Two more: Crystal Springs Uplands Gryphons, Lodi Flames.

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SJ Issue 82, March 26, 2014  
SJ Issue 82, March 26, 2014  

Sac-Joaquin Issue 82, March 26, 2014