Three days after climbing to the top of its emotional ladder and blasting Stockdale High 66-38 for the Central Section Division I girls basketball title at Selland Arena, Clovis West returned to the comforts of its campus gymnasium — with clear physical advantages, no less — in a Southern California Regional opener Tuesday night against Taft-Woodland Hills.
Yet Golden Eagles coach Craig Campbell was quite concerned.
"We were extra focused against Stockdale," he said. "Then, it’s like winning the Super Bowl and, hey, we've got another week to play."
Two minutes later, he wasn’t so worried.
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It went like this: Janae Coffee rebound bucket, Coffee free throw, Ali Orlich 3-pointer, Orlich 3-pointer, three consecutive forced turnovers, a 9-0 lead and, good night Toreadors.
Clovis West wins 84-53.
"They are so smart," Taft coach Mark Drucker said of the second-seeded Eagles (25-4). "All of their girls have basketball IQ."
Clovis West led 45-23 at halftime, with 6-foot-3 senior center Coffee having scored 15 of her 22 points.
"We knew they didn't have much to counter her tonight," Campbell said of No. 15 Taft (16-10), a Los Angeles City Section school also routed 76-38 here at Clovis West in a regional first-rounder two years ago.
The Eagles, ranked 13th in the state, will remain home with a 17-game winning streak at 7 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals. They'll face No. 7 San Diego (29-5), which beat No. 10 Troy-Fullerton 43-42 at the buzzer.
Drucker said the LA City Section has nothing to compare with the Eagles, and that he expects them to play the state’s fourth-ranked Long Beach Poly in the SoCal Regional final March 20 at USC.
"This [Clovis West] team is very, very good," he said. "They have great balance, and having the home-court advantage all the way through [the semifinals] is a definite plus."
Brianna Orlich, the Eagles' intellectual leader and four-year starter, and Se'nyce Parrish each scored 15 points. And both eased Coffee's assignment with well-placed entry passes.
"We've created an opportunity to do something special here as a 2 seed," Campbell said. "We're fortunate to stay in our own beds."