The mostly Kiddy Korps that serves as the foundation of the Clovis West girls basketball team had long left the Clovis North gym Tuesday night — a 42-point throttling of a sixth-ranked team in the bank — and Tim Amundsen made an observation that should ring through the Central Section:
“If you’re going to get them, you’d better get them now.”
Amundsen is the former hugely successful boys coach at Clovis East and Central whose standout sophomore daughter, Tess, plays for Clovis North.
Only the Amundsen who recently sprouted 7 inches within one year — and is literally experiencing growing pains (back, knees) because of it — didn’t play in the Broncos’ 78-36 Tri-River Athletic Conference loss to the No. 1 Golden Eagles.
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“She wouldn’t have made a difference,” dad says, perhaps a bit too honestly.
Not to sound harsh, but maybe Clovis North loses by only 30 against a Clovis West team that appears to be beating major odds.
And, be sure, 20-1 Garces and national recruit C.J. West are noticing down in Kern County.
The Eagles lost all five starters from last year’s 27-4 team that captured the program’s second straight Division I title and ninth in school history. They included four to graduation, counting Bee co-Player of the Year Emily Anderson, in addition to Aysha Kirkland — The Bee’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year who is out for all of this season as a junior with an ACL injury.
Further, Clovis West is 6-0 in the TRAC and 18-4 overall with wins over top-caliber competition from four states — California, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona — with a roster including six sophomores, three juniors and a freshman.
And four of those sophomores — Danae Marquez, Sarah Bates, Megan Anderson and Bre’yanna Sanders — play key roles.
Sanders and Anderson — sister of Emily (now at Cal Poly) — scored 21 and 20 points against Clovis North, which actually led 15-14 in the first quarter.
This isn’t your average sophomore class, to be certain.
“They are really advanced for their age,” says Clovis West senior point guard Landynn Munster, a four-year varsity player (two at Bullard) and the unquestioned glue that bonds the youth. “It’s fun playing with them; I wouldn’t rather play with another group.”
In addition, Clovis West’s freshman and junior varsity teams are succeeding and the program’s eighth-grade team from Kastner Intermediate went unbeaten for two years.
Yes, to echo Amundsen: “You’d better get ’em now.”
It isn’t an accident Munster is closing her prep career at Teague and Millbrook avenues: “Best decision I ever made. I knew I would get better, helping me fulfill my dream of playing at the next level. I knew I would get great coaching and I would play with the best players in the Valley.”
Delivering super sophs isn’t novel for coach Craig Campbell, who’s 238-69 with five section titles and nine TRAC crowns in 10 years with the Eagles.
That included a 2005-06 class counting Blakely Goldberg and Ashley Orlich, and 2007-08 class featuring Brianna Orlich and Janae Coffee.
Then there’s this one.
“Some of our sophomore classes may have had more star power,” Campbell says, “but this one is deeper and it might be the best 3-point shooting group we’ve had.
“This team does some really complicated things amazingly well, like ball movement, the ability to score and the 3-point shooting. In many ways, we’re ahead of where I’d thought we would be. I didn’t expect to lose five starters and be 18-4.”
Clovis West could be on a March 7 D-I final collision course at Selland Arena with the Southwest Yosemite League’s Garces, up a division after going 31-4 and winning D-II last year behind the 6-2 West, who’s averaging 18.6 points and 15.9 rebounds a game and has been offered more than 30 scholarships, according to the Bakersfield Californian.
“We weren’t sure what to expect,” Campbell says. “But this is a special group. They’re getting it.”