By John Murphy
Mark DeLuca, who led Berkeley High to its first state boys basketball title game since 1924, is the new Valley Christian-San Jose coach, DeLuca said late Monday afternoon.
“I’ve accepted it and I’m excited about the opportunity,” DeLuca, 47, said. “I’m leaving Berkeley after coaching in the state title game but I’ll be on campus in a supportive environment. There were some schools calling and recruiting me, but this is the best fit – it has incredible facilities and administration and is a faith-based school and the opportunity to coach in the WCAL is just to great to pass up.”
DeLuca is replacing Ryan Cooper at Valley Christian. Cooper is now the coach at Willow Glen.
DeLuca said the chance to be on campus at Valley Christian was key. ‘
“I was in my third year at Berkeley of being off campus and it puts you at a disadvantage because you show up and things have happened and you have no control over them,” he said of his decision to resign from Berkeley at season’s end.
Berkeley’s record during the DeLuca era was a combined 67-25.
Asked what style of play he favors, DeLuca said: “I like to get up and down (the court) and shoot threes and attack the glass, but it starts and ends with on-ball defensive pressure and taking charges (on defense).”
Since getting the word he is in at Valley Christian, DeLuca said friends have asked them how he will feel coaching in the West Catholic Athletic, one of the best and most intense leagues in the state.
“I told them that I coached in a league with Frank LaPorte and Mike Phelps and another one with Frank Allocco, so I’m up for the challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”
DeLuca is from Indianspolis and played college football and minor league baseball. He currently lives in El Sobrante and is the Director of Student Life for El Sobrante Christian School.
Before arriving at Berkeley, he coached for two seasons at DeAnza and 12 at Pinole Valley. His teams made the North Coast Section playoffs in 13 of those 14 seasons before he coached the Yellow Jackets.
The Yellow Jackets’ post-season run this past season was historic.
Berkeley beat No. 2 seed Jesuit-Carmichael in the CIF-State Northern California regionals, defeated No. 3 seed Monte Vista and No. 5 seed Menlo-Atherton to win the NorCal Regional title. It then fell to SoCal champ Crespi-Encino 68-53 in the state title game.
Berkeley also reached the NorCal regional semifinals in 2014-2015 under DeLuca and made the NCS Division I playoffs in 2013-2014.