Girls’ basketball coach of the year: Stan Delus of Etiwanda

Eitwanda High girls' basketball coach Stan Delus walks the sideline during a game.
Coach Stan Delus of Etiwanda guided the Eagles to the Open Division state girls’ basketball championship this season.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

There’s no debate about the girls’ basketball coach of the year when you guide your team to consecutive victories over nationally ranked La Jolla Country Day, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and San Jose Archbishop Mitty to win the Open Division state championship. That’s what Stan Delus accomplished at Etiwanda to earn The Times’ girls’ basketball coach of the year award.

Except Delus did much more. He found a way to hand Sierra Canyon its only defeat, figuring out a defense to contain player of the year Juju Watkins. He got his star player, Kennedy Smith, to reload for the state playoffs and play at the top of her game. And he figured out how to have his team overcome an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter in Sacramento against one of the best coaches in America.

All that and more brought respect to Delus, whose Eagles won the Southern Section Open Division title last season but lost to Sierra Canyon in this season’s final. The Eagles got their revenge in the regional finals. Then came a 69-67 victory over Mitty on a buzzer-beater, put-back basket from Jada Sanders.

As for what drives the Eagles, Delus said, “Yes, we have a chip on our shoulder. And we’re going to have one next year, because I’m the coach. Period.”