In 1939, the Calaveras High School boys’ basketball team went 5-1 in Mother Lode League play, which was good enough to capture a league title. Since that time, Calaveras has gone on to win 18 more league championships, with the most recent accounting in 2017.
Since 1932, only Summerville has as many Mother Lode League titles as Calaveras (19). As much as Calaveras has had its way with league opponents, the storied program only has one section championship to its name. Calaveras became the first Mother Lode League team to be crowned as section champions, but that one blue banner has been the only to hang in the rafters.
The 1976-77 squad won its third straight league championship, and for the second year in a row, didn’t have a blemish to its league record. But unlike the teams that came before it, the 1977 team went the distance and won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title.
Calaveras began its championship season with a road victory over former – and future – Mother Lode League member Sonora. Calaveras went on the road and handed the Wildcats a 65-48 defeat. Returning all-league player David Duke led Calaveras with 14 points, followed by 12 from Brad Wimberly and Terry Sanders had a double-double with 13 rebounds and 10 points.
At the Rio Vista Tournament, Calaveras beat Vanden 79-73, Colfax 61-37 and Rio Vista 79-58. In the victory over Rio Vista, John Peterson led Calaveras with 29 points. Duke continued his impressive preseason play and was named to the all-tournament team.
Following the tournament victory, Calaveras moved up in the rankings, which were known as the “Big Little Five,” and found themselves as the No. 1-ranked team.
After beating Rio Vista in the tournament, a rematch took place in San Andreas and for the second time, Calaveras picked up a victory, this time 79-73. Sanders had a game to remember with a double-double, collecting 37 points and pulling down 25 boards. Calaveras stayed undefeated with an 84-66 win over the Delta Saints in Clarksburg. Sanders and Duke each scored 22 points, while Sanders again had 25 rebounds.
The Rio Vista Tournament wasn’t the only tournament championship Calaveras captured in 1977. Calaveras won the Quarterback Club championship and, in the process, beat Summerville 75-58, Linden 75-50 and Bret Harte 78-61. Duke, Wimberly and Sanders were all-tournament players.
Calaveras rolled into league play with an 88-59 home win over the Ione Mustangs. Twelve Calaveras players scored, and Duke led the way with 18 points to push Calaveras’ overall record to 12-1. Calaveras followed with a 77-60 win and utilized its full-court press to do so. Peterson led all scorers with 17 points, while Brad Wimberly and Sanders each added 14 and Duke and Bob Brown scored 12. The wins continued, as Calaveras knocked off Ione 75-47 and then beat the Jackson Tigers 77-46 to stay perfect in league play.
As the playoffs drew closer, the topic of seeding became a more common conversation. However, there was a change in the Sac-Joaquin Section, and it involved teams from the Southern League, the Superior California Athletic League, the Trans Valley League and the Mother Lode League. The winner of the MLL would host the second-place team from the Southern League, while the second-place team from the MLL would play the winner of the Trans Valley League. This was the first year the four leagues agreed to allow the second-place team in each league to participate in the playoffs.
Before Calaveras could focus too much on the postseason, the league championship still needed to be captured. A major step in that direction was taken with a 54-24 win over Amador to push its league record to 8-0 and move Calaveras’ winning streak to 18 games. Calaveras then captured another perfect league record with victories over Summerville (68-35) and Bret Harte (95-68).
Sanders was named the Most Valuable Player of the Mother Lode League, while Duke, Wimberly and Brown earned all-league honors. Calaveras head coach Mike Flock was the Coach of the Year.
After the league season wrapped up, Calaveras found out it was ranked No. 1 in Superior California for school enrollments of 350-900 students.
Before the playoffs began, Calaveras placed second while playing at the Lassen Invitational Tournament at Lassen College in Susanville. Playing schools three or four times its size, Calaveras beat Acalanes, of Lafayette, 62-48 and then demolished Beyer 79-62 in the semifinal game. In the championship game, Calaveras lost 64-63 to Central Valley.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Calaveras defeated Denair 79-71 in San Andreas. The playoffs then moved to Lodi and Calaveras won back-to-back games by coming from behind to capture the section championship. In the semifinal game against Vanden, Calaveras entered the fourth quarter trailing by three, but walked off the floor with an 85-84 victory.
With the championship on the line, Calaveras took on the Hughson Huskies. An estimated 300 fans made the trip to Lodi to watch Calaveras beat Hughson 77-67. Duke scored a team-high 22 points, followed by Brown with 21, Sanders with 15, Wimberly with 13 and Peterson with four. Duke was named as the Most Valuable Player of the Sac-Joaquin Tournament of Champions, while Brown and Sanders were placed on the all-tournament team.
Calaveras head coach Mike Flock, along with Duke and Sanders, were named to the All-Superior California team, while Wimberly received honorable mention. Flock was the first Mother Lode League coach to ever receive the award. Duke also was named to the fourth annual Citizens Savings All-Northern California High School Basketball team.
Calaveras finished the 1977 season with an overall record of 26-2 and was ranked as the No. 2 team in California.