Best Of Tucson®

Best Local Coaching Job

Jim Ferguson, Santa Rita Boys Basketball

It wasn't the greatest sports year in Tucson history, but it wasn't bad, either. There weren't any Button Salmon "Bear Down" moments like in 1926 or "Win one for the Gipper" c. 1920, but local high school and college teams did Tucson proud. Ferguson (who is often overshadowed by the legendary Dick McConnell of Sahuaro, for whom Ferguson played as a prep) led Santa Rita into the State 4A championship game. Other notable coaching efforts included:

· Andy Lopez getting the Wildcat baseball team to within one game of its second straight College World Series.

· Lonnie Tvrdy leading Pusch Ridge Christian to the 2A State championship in girls basketball.

· Mike Candrea bouncing back from personal tragedy to lead a less-talented-than-usual UA softball squad into the NCAA Softball World Series.

· Pete Fajardo leading the Salpointe girls basketball team to its third straight trip to the 5A Final Four (this one without Sybil Dosty).

· Lute Olson guiding what could have easily been a knucklehead squad to within one minute of another Final Four. Despite those last few minutes of the Illinois game, Olson lived up to his Hall of Fame status.

· Vern Friedli taking an undersized, undermanned Amphi football team to the state playoffs for the 25th time in 29 years.

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