Reaching new heights

Half Moon Bay High School boys basketball coach John Parsons, at right, says this year’s squad belongs on “the Mount Rushmore of basketball teams.” Review file photo

There were doubts that the Cougars basketball team would even get to play this season due to complications caused by COVID-19. Not only did the Half Moon

Bay High School boys get their season, they played in 25 games, more than any other school in the Bay Area and went undefeated in league play. They finished 21-4 overall.

“It was definitely a historic season, one of the best seasons of Half Moon Bay basketball,” said John Parsons, head coach. “It was just a ton of fun. We beat a number of high-level teams.”

Half Moon Bay High School beat the Division IV, Division III, Division II and Division I Central Coast Section champions and four teams from the West Catholic Athletic League, widely regarded as the best league in Northern California.

“I’ve been a part of Half Moon Bay basketball since I could walk,” Parsons said. “I don’t get into the comparison of who is the best team, but if there were a Mount Rushmore of basketball teams, they would be on it.

“So, when you’re talking about the best teams ever in Half Moon Bay, they should be in that conversation. There is zero doubt in my mind,” he said. “And when you’re talking about a team that has reached their potential, I think, out of any Half Moon Bay team I’ve seen, they’ve reached their potential.”

The Cougars were also the only public school in the Open Division tournament and only the third ever public school to win a first round Open Division playoff game.

“I was surprised that we were even able to get the chance to play,” said Cougar Mykola Ediger. “It was a lot of fun and I was super thrilled. Being able to have a good season, like not just five, six, seven games, but like a 25-game season. It was great.”

While most teams had a shorter season than usual due to COVID-19, both Antonio Veloso, head coach of the Cougar varsity girls basketball team, and Parsons worked to make as many games happen as possible for their teams.

They brought testing in-house by bringing in a firm that does onsite COVID-19 testing, and utilized the back office at Parson’s financial services company in Half Moon Bay.

“It’s an incredibly special group,” Parsons said. “I can’t even put into words how much they mean to me. Coaching the majority of them since they were in fourth grade, I really get to see them grow up. I feel very, very fortunate to be able to have coached them for so long.

“They’re a completely unselfish group, very team-oriented,” he said. “They didn’t care who scored or who had the success, they just wanted the team to succeed. They have done so much as far as laying the foundation of our youth program for years to come.”

The Cougars played in the CCS Open Division semifinal game before losing to Archbishop Mitty, 88-63. Their opponents that day went on to win the Open championship and finished the season ranked No. 2 in the Bay Area.

“All our lives we’ve been beating teams that are a lot taller and a lot more athletic and who recruit from all these different areas, but to actually do it in the high school setting, on the big stage, was pretty cool,” Ediger said.

In the end, Half Moon Bay was considered one of the area’s best teams this year.

“It was a hell of a ride, that’s for sure,” Parsons said. 

This version corrects to note that Mitty won the Open Division title.

Emma Spaeth is a staff writer for the Half Moon Bay Review covering community, arts and sports. Emma grew up in Half Moon Bay before earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon.

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