I got some feedback, all positive, after my story on the 20th anniversary of Sonoma Valley High School’s first-ever North Coast Section champion in any sport, the 1994 Dragon boys’ basketball team coached by Phil Rosemurgy, which stunned mighty San Lorenzo.
Going into the sectional championship at a sold-out 4,000-seat James Logan gym in Fremont on March 5, 1994, San Lorenzo was ranked No. 1 in the Bay Area, in the NorCal top-five and state’s top-10.
But the Sonoma County League champion Dragons burst out of the gate to a 22-9 first-quarter lead, then turned their high-level team performance into an emphatic 71-46 victory, which earned them the NCS Division-3 title.
Whether Sonoma’s deep and talented 1994 NCS Division-3 championship team was the best in school history – which, for clarification and not wanting friends and past loyalists mad at me, can definitely be debated because there were a few strong squads in the 1970s that won titles, but didn’t have the postseason opportunities that followed their runs.
Before the sections were devised, the Bay Area postseason was the famous Tournament of Champions, which was won each year by an East Bay school, mostly from the Oakland area, with no North Bay team to my recollection ever winning a TOC title.
One great Dragons’ team that I was reminded of – though I really didn’t need reminding to know how good it was because I was away at college and didn’t get a chance to see it play, but did get to play with and against some of its star cagers in youth and adult leagues – was Sonoma’s 1970-71 boys’ varsity team coached by the late Bob Bergman.
This is the email I received from Brian Stephenson, a former Dragon who has played in and followed the Sonoma basketball scene, and is currently running the Jack Benny men’s hoops league.
“Hey, nice article on the 1994 team, but I still think the SVHS team of ’70-’71, with Romberg, Dan Waldron, Martinson, Sherman, Bihn, Nordstrom and supporting cast was the best I ever saw.”
Of course I don’t want to venture down the “who’s the best road,” because it’s all subjective to every person’s point of view, but that was one powerhouse team, with three of those players later competing at a high-college level.
When looking at Sonoma’s 1994 NCS championship team, it also boasted star players in Bobby Alexander, John Florance and Linc Isetta, who led an outstanding supporting cast of players, with Alexander and Florance, who is now coaching at the junior college level in Sacramento, both making their marks at the college hoops level.
So which team was the best?
Sure making school history puts the 1994 Dragons high on “the mantel of the best,” but if the 1971 Dragons had their shot at winning an NCS title, they would’ve probably accomplished the task because that was a “beast of a team.”
So which team was the best?
Maybe it would be fun to put data into a computer and play a simulated game.
But does it really matter, because the Valley’s been fortunate to have so much talent and character assembled on more than one team to bring hoops joy to us all over the years.