Craig Campbell joined an elite fraternity this week. As usual, the coach of CIF State girls basketball champion Clovis West deflected any credit that others might send his way.
Named as Cal-Hi Sports’ overall Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, he was an obvious favorite after leading his Golden Eagles to the state Open Division championship.
But as just the third recipient from the Central Section since the preeminent statewide source for high school sports coverage began making selections in 1972, that has to mean something personally. Right, coach?
“The value is in all the great players and unbelievable coaching staff that were a part of this,” Campbell said. “It’s that we all did this together. The relationships involved.”
With one of the most balanced starting fives you’ll ever see, it also is the perfect time to choose … Campbell as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.
Cal-Hi Sports editor/publisher Mark Tennis
The state championship victory over Mitty-San Jose added the biggest bullet point to a career résumé that includes a 266-71 record in 12 years. A 14-3 closing run lifted the Golden Eagles to a 44-40 victory at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
A core senior group of Division I signees in Bre’yanna Sanders (Arizona State), Danae Marquez (San Jose State), Megan Anderson (San Jose State) and Sarah Bates (UC Santa Barbara) capped four-year prep careers that produced a 117-15 record with four section and four Tri-River Athletic Conference (40-0) titles. Another senior, Tess Amundsen, a Clovis North transfer, is headed to Boise State.
Madison Campbell, the coach’s daughter and a sophomore who also is a national recruiting target, ensures Campbell will be around for at least another couple of years.
“It all came together for this year’s girls basketball team at Clovis West,” Cal-Hi editor/publisher Mark Tennis wrote, “and with one of the most balanced starting fives you’ll ever see, it also is the perfect time to choose … Campbell as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.”
539-176 Campbell’s won-loss record in 23 seasons at Reno and Clovis West highs
Campbell told Tennis that the state title run was “a surreal experience,” all the more rewarding because of the national powers – with their own collections of college-caliber talent – that the Golden Eagles knocked off along the way.
“There were so many teams we played talent-wise that were better than us,” Campbell said. “But collectively we were better.”
The other previous overall winners from the section were Mary Brown of Memorial in 1973 and Dwayne Tubbs of Hanford in 2001. Tubbs’ Hanford team in D-II and Woodlake in D-III in 1985 are the only other section teams to win titles in state girls postseason competition that began in 1981.
Campbell by default also earned Cal-Hi’s Open Division/D-I honor for the second time. He also was the pick in 2014 when Clovis West went 27-4 while winning the section D-I title.
Clovis West already had been named Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year (only the second section team to win that honor; the other being Brown’s 1973 team).
“It validates hard work and what a special program Clovis West is,” Campbell had told The Bee following the state championship victory. “When you combine talented gym rats with a great committed staff, all the way down to seventh grade, you have a chance to do something like this.”