History hasn’t recorded this Clovis West High girls basketball team, yet.
It’s far too early in a season that surely will end with the Golden Eagles in the state playoffs, quite possibly in the CIF Open Division Championship on March 25 at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center.
But history can scream aplenty about Clovis West’s 11-1 season, essentially one-third complete, The Bee’s No. 1 team, a state No. 2 ranking and national billing, as well.
This isn’t so much about the 11-1 record; those have been common in Central Section girls basketball launched in 1974, according to historian Bob Barnett.
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It’s about this: No team in section annals has celebrated Christmas as the Eagles’ 14 players, coach Craig Campbell and his three assistants will this weekend, given their competition.
That counts wins over Long Beach Poly and St. Mary’s-Stockton, St. John’s College-Washington, D.C., Centennial-Las Vegas and Miami Country Day – all ranked among the top 20 in national polls.
“It’s validation,” said Campbell. “It says we’ve crashed the party.”
15 Average margin of victory by Clovis West over four nationally ranked teams in the Nike Tournament of Champions at Arizona
The Eagles conquered four nationally ranked teams by an average of 15 points this week while capturing the National Bracket title, the elite division of the 96-team, five-division Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona.
A performance that awed more than 100 major-college coaches closed Thursday with a 67-45 demolition of Miami Country Day, which arrived at the Mesquite High gym in Gilbert, Ariz., with a 13-0 record and No. 6 national ranking by USA Today Sports Super 25 Expert Rankings.
Sophomore Madison Campbell, the coach’s daughter, made her first six 3-pointers, finished with 23 points and was named the National Bracket’s MVP.
She has already received several college offers, and teammates Bre’yanna Sanders (Arizona State), Megan Anderson (San Jose State), Sarah Bates (UC Santa Barbara), Danae Marquez (San Jose State) and Tess Amundsen (Boise State) have signed Division I scholarships on arguably the best and deepest long-range shooting team in the land.
They’re hungry and humble; that’s why they do so well. They’re very coachable group for elite, talented players. We’ve got six or more kids who would score 20 a game for most teams in the Valley, but they sacrifice for their buy-in to the team. And that’s something we really try to foster.
Clovis West girls basketball coach Craig Campbell
“They’re hungry and humble; that’s why they do so well,” Craig Campbell said. “They’re a very coachable group for elite, talented players. We’ve got six or more kids who would score 20 a game for most teams in the Valley, but they sacrifice for their buy-in to the team. And that’s something we really try to foster.”
Six players have the green light to fire behind the 19-foot, 9-inch arch.
“We joke that we just need two of them to be on,” the coach said. “If all six are on, you’re in trouble.”
The Eagles made 12 3s – one under their season average – against Miami Country Day. And that came three weeks after they dropped a school-record 18 on Carondelet-Concord in a 79-44 crusher for the Nike Central Valley Showdown title at Clovis West.
Carondelet arrived that night 4-0 and having defeated the opposition by an average of 31.5 points. The day before, the Cougars won 63-41 against Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills, which opened the season 12th-ranked in the stateby Cal-Hi Sports.
“I was like, ‘Holy Cow,’ ” Craig Campbell said of his team’s dominance of Carondelet, a state Open Division entrant last year. “We thought it would be a dogfight.”
He expected the same this week in Arizona. Playing in the National Bracket, he said, is tantamount to playing for a state championship four consecutive nights. Further, his players were taking pre-Christmas-break finals in the morning and late at night while they were there.
There was one dogfight – a 63-58 win over eight-time state champion St. Mary’s-Stockton, top-ranked nationally in early USA Today Sports Super 25 Computer Rankings, which haven’t been updated.
The Eagles opened the tournament with a 75-58 rout of St. John’s, a defending state champion from Washington D.C., as Amundsen and Anderson split 34 points, and a 57-42 win over Centennial-Las Vegas behind 16 points from Amundsen, who sat out last year per CIF transfer rules after shifting from Clovis North.
Clovis West’s only loss was a 76-75 overtime decision to Archbishop Mitty-San Jose for the Iolani Classic title on Dec. 10 in Honolulu. The Monarchs are No. 2 nationally in both USA Today rankings.
Clovis West is No. 7 nationally in USA Today’s computer poll and No. 2 in the state behind Mitty by Cal-Hi Sports, among other high national endorsements by MaxPreps and ESPN.
The value of which is what?
Campbell offers a multiple answer: “National rankings are fantastic; a pat on the back for what you’ve done, and they create a lot of interest for fourth-graders, sixth-graders and our AAU parents. But that’s a mythological title down the road. The rankings most important to me are state because there’s a state tournament, not a national tournament. And, if we take care of business, we could be the No. 1 seed for the Southern (Regional) playoffs. And that means teams driving four to five hours to our gym instead of us traveling.”
No Central Section girls basketball team has been so qualified by Christmas.
Not the great Memorial teams of star Jackie White to begin it all in the late ’70s; not the Hanford juggernauts ranging from the late Shawntinice Polk’s state Division II championship 31-2 team of 2001 to Madison Parrish’s 2008-11 dynasty; and among Clovis West’s record 16 section titlists, featuring Southern Section runners-up led by Adrian Williams in 1995 and Brianna Orlich in 2010.
Campbell is 276-72 (.793)with seven Central Section titles in 12 seasons at Clovis West, according to Barnett, and 516-175 (.747) overall, including 11 years at Reno High, where he won eight section crowns and a state championship.
His practices in “The Lab” – the school’s East Gym – are cutting edge and with virtual demands of perfection. Few drills last long without the interruption of his whistle and the imploring of better footwork, communication, energy, intensity and accountability.
“We want to meet expectations,” said Sanders, a four-year varsity player along with Bee 2016 Player of the Year Marquez, Anderson and Bates. “We’re a veteran team that can’t play like rookies.”
“Honestly,” said Anderson, “with our experience, this is what is expected of us. And we have to come in with that mindset every day.”
CENTRAL SECTION BASKETBALL RANKINGS
- 1. Clovis West (TRAC, 11-1)
- 2. Clovis North (TRAC, 9-5)
- 3. Clovis (TRAC, 10-1)
- 4. Monache (EYL, 11-1)
- 5. Hanford (WYL, 3-5)
- 6. Stockdale (SWYL, 9-3)
- 7. Central (TRAC, 5-3)
- 8. Independence (SYL, 9-2)
- 9. Bakersfield (SWYL, 8-2)
- 10. Mission Oak (EYL, 6-1)
- 1. Clovis North (TRAC, 8-2)
- 2. Clovis West (TRAC, 11-1)
- 3. Bakersfield (SWYL, 6-7)
- 4. Memorial (CSL, 7-2)
- 5. Ridgeview (SYL, 7-2)
- 6. Buchanan (TRAC, 9-2)
- 7. Edison (CMAC, 6-4)
- 8. Immanuel (CSL, 5-3)
- 9. Independence (SYL, 9-3)
- 10. Central (TRAC, 5-3)