The last three coaches who've directed their teams to three straight state titles -- Jeff Sink (Brea-Olinda), Mike Ciardella (Sacred Heart Prep) and Scott Brown (Campolindo) -- are all on the all-time list of State Coaches of the Year. Cooper makes it four.
The only other coach in state history with three straight girls basketball state titles is John Paye, the former 49ers and Stanford quarterback who directed Menlo School of Atherton to three straight from 1989-1991. Paye may not be on the State Coaches of the Year list, but he's in the state record book in many other places.
Cooper also isn't the only state coach of the year from Bishop Montgomery. In 1997, Yvette Angel was the coach who guided the Knights to a second straight Div. III state title and she was given the top honor. Since Cooper's now done one better, her selection for 2002 makes all the more sense.
Coaching has been in Cooper's background for a long time. Her father, Bo Corona, had been the girls head coach for many years at nearby Westchester of Los Angeles. He was recently let go in a controversial move despite the Comets being ranked No. 2 in the section for most of the season.
Cooper's first state title came in 2000 despite the fact most of the Knights were sophomores and freshmen. They defeated Petaluma, 57-45, in the final game. Two high-profile players from that team then transferred, but Cooper still kept the team together and a second straight title was earned due to a 48-38 triumph over Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco. This year's squad made it three-in-a-row by downing Miramonte of Orinda, 61-55. The three state title seasons also put Cooper's career record at 87-14.
In addition to the overall state coaching honor, Cooper had to be one of five coaches who've been named as a State Coach of the Year for their CIF enrollment-based division. She would not have repeated as Div. III's top coach, but had to be listed again since she won this year's overall honor.
The complete coach of the year list as well as the all-time state list back to 1975 follows:
CAL-HI SPORTS STATE COACHES OF THE YEAR
Division I: Ellis Barfield (Lynwood)
Ellis would have been a stronger contender to be overall coach of the year but he already has been picked before (1993). He still did enough in guiding the Knights to a perfect season to be listed again for his division.
Division II: Tom Gonsalves (St. Mary's, Stockton)
The Rams moved up to Div. II on their way to being Div. I next season and won a state championship. Gonsalves was previously a boys head coach at Tokay High of Lodi and took over at St. Mary's this season.
Division III: Lisa Cooper (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance)
Also named State Coach of the Year.
Division IV: Rick DeMartini (Marin Catholic, Kentfield)
DeMartini built his team around the versatile talents of 6-3 Brooke Smith and the result was the school's first state title. The Wildcats also took on a challenging schedule throughout the season and posted wins over such programs as St. Mary's of Stockton, Kennedy of Sacramento and Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
Division V: Kevin Blue (Pilgrim, Los Angeles)
We really liked the way Blue's team hit the road for the SoCal semis in San Luis Obispo and pinned a loss on homestanding Mission Prep. Pilgrim also made it to the Div. V SoCal final in 2000 and lost in the semis last year. Who knows what could have happened to the Patriots had not Candice Wiggins arrived at La Jolla Country Day.
Note: Terri Bamford (La Jolla Country Day) not considered for Div. V since she was chosen for last year.
STATE COACHES OF THE YEAR
(All selections by Cal-Hi Sports)
2002 -- Lisa Cooper (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) 28-5
2001 -- Dwayne Tubbs (Hanford) 31-2
2000 -- James Anderson (Narbonne, Harbor City) 34-0
1999 -- Sue Phillips-Chargin (Mitty, San Jose) 31-0
1998 -- Jeff Sink (Brea-Olinda, Brea) 33-1
1997 -- Yvette Angel (Bishop Montgomery, Torrance) 29-3
1996 -- Mary Hauser (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 29-3
1995 -- Scott Brown (Campolindo, Moraga) 32-3
1994 -- Mike Ciardella (Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton) 38-0
1993 -- Ellis Barfield (Lynwood) 31-0
1992 -- Wendell Yoshida (Peninsula, RH Estates) 33-0
1991 -- Gene Nakamura (Berkeley) 30-2
1990 -- Frank Scott (Morningside, Inglewood) 32-3
1989 -- Mark Trakh (Brea-Olinda, Brea) 31-2
1988 -- Richard Hull (Willows) 26-4
1987 -- Lee Trepanier (Point Loma, San Diego) 34-0
1986 -- Van Girard (Lynwood) 28-4
1985 -- Tom Campbell (Pleasant Valley, Chico) 28-0
1984 -- Joe Vaughan (Buena, Ventura) 31-0
1983 -- Larry Newman (Anderson) 26-1
1982 -- Tom Pryor (Gahr, Cerritos) 29-5
1981 -- Art Webb (Locke, Los Angeles) 19-2
1980 -- Spike Hensley (Berkeley) 29-0
1979 -- Harvey Green (El Camino Real, Woodland Hills) 19-0
1978 -- Joanne Kellogg (Huntington Beach) 25-2
1977 -- Tami Yasuda (Bella Vista, Fair Oaks) 30-1
1976 -- Chuck Shively (Ventura) 23-0
1975 -- Janet Balsley (Point Loma, San Diego) 34-0
Note: Selections prior to 1979 made retroactively through research by Cal-Hi Sports founder Nelson Tennis.