What began in early December 2013 ended on a mid-March Tuesday night. And for the Clovis West High girls basketball team, it did so with a score that thundered throughout the state.
The final home game for Golden Eagles four-year seniors Danae Marquez, Megan Anderson, Bre’yanna Sanders and Sarah Bates delivered a 73-31 clinic over Bishop’s-La Jolla in the semifinals of the Southern California Open Division Regional.
“That was out of our league, man,” said Bishop’s coach Marlon Wells, whose Knights arrived 30-3.
That surely won’t be the case Saturday at 6 p.m. at Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, where top-seeded Clovis West will play No. 2 Long Beach Poly for the regional title and a berth in the CIF State Open Division Championship at 6 p.m. March 25 at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center.
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It’s their year, man, I’m telling you.
Bishop’s coach Marlon Wells, after a 42-point loss to Clovis West
The Eagles – top-ranked nationally by USA Today Sports Computer Rankings – are 32-2 after equaling the Central Section single-season wins standard, according to historian Bob Barnett. Hanford went 32-4 in the 1999-2000 season.
Poly (27-3) advanced with a 66-57 win over No. 3 Mission Hills-San Marcos.
Saturday’s game will come three months after Clovis West beat Poly 70-67 in overtime in the Nike Iolani Classic at Honolulu.
It will come a year after the Jackrabbits eliminated the Eagles from the Open Division with a 53-44 semifinal decision at Clovis West.
And it will come seven years after Poly defeated the Eagles 68-53 for the SoCal Division I championship.
We look forward to the competition because, in order to be the best you have to beat the best. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Clovis West’s Danae Marquez on upcoming game against Long Beach Poly
“We look forward to the competition,” said Marquez after making 10 steals, “because, in order to be the best you have to beat the best. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Wells glanced nearby at Clovis West coach Craig Campbell as a near-capacity crowd of 2,200 was exiting in a collective gasp.
“I’ve known him for 20 years,” Wells said, “and what’s he’s done here is beyond amazing. I’m proud of that dude.”
For all of Campbell’s success in a 12-year Eagles career that’s produced a 297-73 record (.803) and eight Central Section titles, Tuesday’s performance may have been as good as any, given the stage.
“Us seniors were pretty emotional about this experience,” said Marquez, who had three steals in a game-opening 9-0 run.
That was only 3 minutes and 30 seconds into it, and Bishop’s was effectively toast.
And consider: That was with a team boasting USC-bound Destiny Littleton, the state’s career-leading scorer and a senior guard who marched into the gym with a 43.6-point average this season.
14 points for Bishop’s Destiny Littleton, the state’s career-leading scorer at 43.6 points per game
She didn’t make her first basket until the second quarter, had five points at halftime and finished with 14 overall.
Simply, this was not about The Big One in Littleton, this was largely about The Big Four – Marquez, Anderson, Sanders and Bates – who went 55-4 in their careers at home and are 115-15 overall.
Campbell said: “I told them before the game, ‘That court out there has been very good to you and you have been very good to that court; honor it tonight.’”
Anderson scored 21 points, including four consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter that removed all doubt at 49-21; Sanders had 14 points and 15 rebounds; and Bates added seven points and eight assists.
“We didn’t want any regrets and we wanted to sell out for each other,” Marquez said. “We owed ourselves that.”
Anderson said: “We just wanted to come out and put on a show for our last game, and that’s what we did.”
Very much part of the show was Tess Amundsen with 18 points. The senior forward sat out last season per CIF transfer rules after shifting from Clovis North.
“They match up real well with Poly,” Wells said of the Eagles. “They have senior leadership, depth on the bench, play hard and can shoot.
“It’s their year, man, I’m telling you.”
CLOVIS WEST VS. LONG BEACH POLY
- Saturday: 6 p.m. at Walter Pyramid, Long Beach
- Records: Golden Eagles 32-2; Jackrabbits 27-3
- CIF Southern California Regional Open Division seedings: Eagles No. 1, Jackrabbits No. 2