State championship roots come full circle at Colfax High

Former CIF title winner now has daughters in CHS program
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Service
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After nearly 30 years, the signatures of the players on a piece of Colfax High School girls basketball history are barley legible. But make no mistake, the large print on the Wilson Jet basketball that reads “1984 State Champs” and proudly rests in the Colfax High trophy case, is still very visible for all to see.

Of course, it was a different time then. In 1984, Ronald Reagan was President. Cellular phones were still eight to ten years away from becoming a rage and if you can believe this, the Raiders – albeit based in Los Angeles – won the Super Bowl.

In Northern California and the foothills area in 1984, the talk of girls prep hoops centered around the Colfax High girls team. Known then as the “Falconettes”, the Colfax girls capped a banner two-season run by capturing their second consecutive CIF State Div. III championship with a 65-43 win over Woodlake of the Central Section.

Playing at the Oakland Coliseum with at least 2,000 Colfax followers waving green and white pom-poms, the Colfax girls finished a scintillating two-year run in which they went 52-4, won two CIF Northern California crowns and the two state titles. In 1983, Colfax had defeated Marshall of Pasadena at the Los Angeles Sports Arena for its first state title.

And now, although it took nearly three decades, the first connection from Colfax High’s remarkable back-to-back state championship seasons has come full circle.

The first offspring of a squad member from those great Colfax High teams has made it to the varsity level for the Lady Falcons. Making it even more interesting is that Jill Dutton Kirkland, who played on both the ‘83 and ’84 state title squads and has two daughters playing in the Colfax program, is one the sidelines as the Lady Falcons’ JV coach.

“It doesn’t seem that it was that long ago but I guess it was,” said Dutton Kirkland who in 2007 with her former teammates were inducted into the Colfax High School Hall of Fame. “Sometimes its just a blur thinking back about those days.”

In her playing days, Dutton Kirkland was a hustling guard and defensive specialist for Colfax and the role seems to run in the family.

Older daughter Kylie, a junior, plays in the backcourt for the Lady Falcons varsity and has moved into a prominent role for her squad. Last week she scored 14 key points and played a fine floor game in the Lady Falcons’ 50-41 conquest of Bear River.

Meanwhile, younger daughter Courtney, has been the starting point guard of her freshman team before being recently sidelined by an ankle injury.

“There’s a lot of pride being able to say that I’ve had a chance to be involved with the girls in doing something they’ve enjoyed,” said Dutton Kirkland who coached both her daughters at Weimar Hills Middle School before they moved on to Colfax. “It’s been a real pleasure.”

Last season, Dutton Kirkland’s Colfax JV team, with daughter Kylie running the point, won the Pioneer Valley League championship, while her Weimar Hills squad, with Courtney at the helm of the offense, captured the Nevada County Middle School crown.

For Kylie Kirkland, playing under the guidance of her mother has been nothing but positive.

“She’s basically taught me everything I know on the basketball court,” said Kylie. “She’s a real inspiration, not just in basketball but also in life lessons.”  

Dutton Kirkland echoed her daughter’s sentiments when she noted, “My mom and dad still come to the games. I guess they’re right when they some things just never change.”