The Bee's Winter All-Stars: Girls Basketball Co-Players of the Year

The Fresno BeeApril 12, 2014 

Their careers ran concurrent with remarkably similar success and collegiate rewards.

Hanford High's Brooke Johnson is going to be a UNLV Rebel -- fittingly, for a daring point guard with an almost rebellious court personality.

Clovis West's Emily Anderson is off to Cal Poly, taking with her a graceful presence, textbook perimeter stroke and ability to score inside as well.

They are The Bee's girls basketball co-Players of the Year, departing as Central Section luminaries with near-duplicate résumés as 6-footers with versatile skills:

• Four-year varsity players -- and in the section's premier programs, no less -- for teams that went 96-22 (Hanford) and 85-31 (Clovis West).

• Two-year section Division I champions -- Johnson in 2011 and '12; Anderson 2013 and '14.

• Four-year league champions -- Johnson going 48-0 in the West Yosemite League; Anderson 37-3 in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.

"Clovis West and Hanford have been the top two programs in the Valley the last eight years," Golden Eagles coach Craig Campbell says, "and while Emily and Brooke's styles are totally different, they both had the same impact for their programs.

"Both kids saw the great players before them in each program and how those players led their teams respectively. Emily and Brooke were able to take the torch of greatness that was passed along to them and write their own, equally great, legacy."

Johnson: Latches on in kindergarten

Yes, indeed, Johnson saw the great Bullpups before her at a very young age.

She was but 5 years old, watching her cousin, Tara Chennault, help lead Hanford to a state Division II basketball title in 2001.

The anchor to that team was the late Shawntinice Polk, who used to babysit Johnson.

"I was with those players all of the time," Johnson says. "I'd be at all of their games."

She continued to follow the Bullpups and, bottom line, she joined the program as a freshman in the fall of 2010 knowing this: "If we didn't win, it would fall on us, so we had to keep winning; it wasn't going to be handed to us."

Johnson played with Madison Parrish for one season and with Bayli McClard for three. Both were two-time Bee Players of the Year.

But Johnson would carve her own signature in red and black with a relentless slicing-and-dicing offensive and defensive approach that, somehow, had her foul out but once this season.

"She was on the precipice of carrying four fouls into the fourth quarter every game," Bullpups coach Doug Pitkin says of the player who chose UNLV over Nebraska and Gonzaga. "She couldn't help herself. If she was close to you, she'd not only want to block your shot but leave a message, and we could not talk her out of that.

"It was kind of like asking a scorpion not to sting."

Anderson: Paving path to 'dream' destination

Anderson's Eagles have won the past two of 14 section titles at the school since 1990.

"We do what it takes to win," said the athlete groomed in the Clovis West district Little Hoopsters program since kindergarten. "That's how we we're raised."

So, is that taken for granted? "No, and it gets me frustrated when people do, going through the motions. I'm not OK with that at all."

Anderson going through the motions? Uh, no.

"Her growth in her skill set is directly attributed to her offseason work ethic," Campbell says. "She's constantly wanting to do individual workouts and continue to grow her game. She is a high-character kid who will be greatly missed for what she has brought to our program, both on and off the court."

And now to Cal Poly, previously attended by Anderson's parents, Nick and Jill.

"I've grown up around there," says Anderson, also offered scholarships by Fresno State, Sacramento State and Pacific. "I went there a lot and fell in love with the campus. It was always my dream school."


 CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR: BROOKE JOHNSON & EMILY ANDERSON

• Schools: Hanford/Clovis West

• Grades/positions Johnson, senior guard; Anderson, senior forward

• Fast breaks: Johnson leaves for UNLV with one of the most impressive bodies of work in the 40-year history of girls basketball in the Central Section. It counts: 1,373 points, 663 rebounds, 515 assists, 495 steals, 162 blocks and a four-year record of 96-22 with two section Division I titles and four league championships. ... Anderson goes to Cal Poly as the seventh-leading career scorer (1,227) and third-leading 3-point shooter (169) in Clovis West history. Her four Eagles teams went 85-31, including 50-10 with D-I championships the past two seasons, and four league titles.

• He said it: "She's dauntless, fearless, and this coming from a girl that's a little slender. She did more to help my program this year and for future years than she'll ever know just by being the person she was. Nobody outworked her. You can't replace Brooke Johnson. She was not only the point guard and facilitator, she was, categorically, the leader in the fight, in preparation, in everything." -- Bullpups coach Doug Pitkin

• He said it: "Emily has developed into one of the top scorers in the section and state the last two years. But she has become much more than just a shooter, improving as a slasher and post-up game. She has put in as much time on her game as any player I have had in 20 years." -- Golden Eagles coach Craig Campbell

The reporter can be reached at aboogaard@fresnobee.com or @beepreps on Twitter.

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