To say there were some impressive coaching jobs during the girls basketball season would be an understatement.
Two area teams qualified for the CIF Central Section Open Division playoffs after historic regular seasons. Another made a CIF-CS divisional championship game and embarked on a deep state playoff run.
So who's the Santa Maria Times' All-Area Coach of the Year?
That would be Orcutt Academy's Tom Robb.
Robb's team was the one to make the CIF Central Section Division 3 championship game. The Spartans fell to top seed Caruthers in that game 58-44 and then were awarded with the No. 15 seed in the CIF State Division 3 SoCal playoffs.
The Spartans beat No. 2 Lawndale 53-44 on the road and then went to No. 7 Shadow Hills and won 66-54. That advanced them to the regional semifinals, where they lost to No. 3 seed Porterville, also on the road, 62-37.
The Spartans were the last area team standing. They went 23-9 this past season, finishing 6-4 in the Mountain League, their only league losses to Nipomo and St. Joseph, the two area teams that played in the CIF-CS Open Division playoffs.
Nipomo's Chris Litvinchuk was named the All-Area Coach of the Year last season after leading the Titans to the CIF-CS Div. 2 championship. He was also a top contender for the award this year as the Titans went 22-8 and played in the Open Division playoffs and made the state tournament for the second year in a row.
St. Joseph coach Analise Riezebos was also another top contender as the Knights won the Mountain League with a 10-0 record and also played in the Open Division bracket, taking on the section's top teams.
Orcutt Academy played for the CIF-CS Div. 3 title a year after winning the Division 4 championship. It took Caruthers, one of the top teams in the Central Section, to stop their divisional playoff run this year.
This year's All-Area Coach of the Year award is just another feather in Robb's cap. He has steadily built the program since the Spartans went 5-17 in his first season with the program, in 2016-17.
“My first year here, we won one league game,” Rob once said. “My second year, we won two. The next year we finished third."
The Spartans then won the Ocean League title in 2019-20 and moved up to the Mountain League in 2020-21, winning a CIF-CS title in a coronavirus-impacted season. (Caruthers also ended the Spartans' playoff run in the semifinals in 2020).
Orcutt Academy had a historic season in 2021-22. They beat Righetti 61-51 and 64-40, their first win over the powerhouse program in school history. They also beat Arroyo Grande twice and tested Nipomo in a 62-57 loss. Orcutt Academy out-scored its opposition 1,581-1,214 on the season.
The program will have some holes to fill next season. Giselle Calderon, the All-Area Offensive Player of the Year, is set to graduate, as is standout shooting guard Chyanna Medina-Tell, also an All-Area selection. The Spartans, though, will have Khaelii Robertson-Mack, Devyn Kendrick and Diamonsol Malicdem back.
Robb was chosen as the All-Area Coach of the Year by the sports staff at the Santa Maria Times.