Busy Tomlin glad to be back with SB girls, adds assistant coaches


Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Emma Wilson is expected to play a big role for the Crusaders next season,

By Ray Hamill — New St. Bernard’s girls varsity basketball head coach Matt Tomlin has been busy filling out his staff after recently returning to the program.

Tomlin, who coached the Crusaders for four years from 2013 to 2017, was named the new head coach on May 1, taking over from the departed Mark Gardner.

And since then, he’s added three assistants to fill out his staff, including Merritt Shoenhofer, Tita Tanuvasa and Abiona Katri.

Shoenhofer is a former Fortuna standout who also played at both Shasta College and Humboldt State, while Tanuvasa and Katri both played for Tomlin during his prior spell with the program.

Katri also played a key role for the College of the Redwoods women in their championship run this past winter.

The new head coach enjoyed tremendous success in his first spell with the team, posting a record of 89-39 while winning four league crowns, three NCS titles and two NorCal championships.

And he expects more success this time around from a program that has won more section championships than any other basketball team in the H-DNL, boys or girls.

“We have really high expectations for this program,” he said.

The Crusaders have won five NCS titles in the program’s history, including four in the past six years.


Saulele Tanuvasa

Returning talent

The team will graduate a number of influential seniors this year, but the cupboard is hardly bare, with some key returning players and a talented incoming freshman class.

Most notably, Saulele Tanuvasa will be back as a sophomore and ready to build on her MVP season this past winter.

“Everyone knows about (Tanuvasa), but we’ve got a lot of talented players in this program,” the new head coach said.

Twin sisters Fa’apisa and Maila Fonoti are each expected to play a major role as seniors, while big things are also expected out of returning sophomore Emma Wilson at point guard.

Incoming freshman Madeline Shanahan also is expected to have an immediate impact at center.

Glad to be back

A busy Tomlin also is the head coach of the football and baseball teams at the school, as well as coaching American Legion baseball during the summer, but says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When I’m not at work I absolutely love coaching,” he said. “I don’t have hobbies like other people, so for me coaching all year round is what I love.”

He says he is glad to be back.

“I had a great experience my first four years coaching the team, and it was just a lot of fun coaching the girls,” he said. “And I missed that.”

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