Clovis West and Edison highs, the preeminent programs of Central Section basketball, again dominate The Bee’s rankings
The Golden Eagles and Tigers are Nos. 1 and 3 in girls and boys, but their coaches make clear that caveats accompany the billings.
“This is by far the most parity in the 10 years I have been here,” says Craig Campbell, 219-65 (.771) with five of Clovis West’s 14 section girls titles, including the past two at Selland Arena.
His sophomore class, which represent the foundation of the team with seven players, is arguably the deepest and most gifted in school history. And the majority have been playing together since fourth grade.
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“It’s improbable to lose our starting five to graduation and (junior) Aysha Kirkland for the season with an ACL and even be in the (section Division I) hunt,” Campbell says. “But these young kids are very talented, and Ashley Cross is a dynamic junior as well.”
The sophomore class features Sarah Bates and Megan Anderson. And point guard Landynn Munster provides senior savvy for a 12-3 team that is ranked 16th in the state.
The Eagles are 9 for 9 in Tri-River Athletic Conference titles under Campbell. And they’ll open league play at home against No. 5 Clovis North (10-4) Jan. 16.
Edison’s boys routed Bullard 58-41 last year for their section-record 22nd championship. And the Tigers return guard Daemar Potts and 6-8 forward Jamont Wilson, among others, from that 27-8 team.
They improved to 8-4 with a 69-67 escape Monday at Fresno City College against No. 11 Central in a game that well represented the balance from Fresno to Bakersfield.
“The difference between No. 1 and No. 15 is slim,” Edison coach T.J. Wilkins says. “If 15 beat 1, it wouldn’t be an upset.”
Clovis West’s boys are nine-time section champs, yet in a silver-medal funk, having finished second in five of the past eight D-I finals at Selland. They last won in 2006.
The Eagles’ starting five is unmatched in the section, featuring guards Michael Orlich and Stacey Leggett, and 6-7 forward Colin DeLaere, who’ve been playing varsity three years after going 28-0 as freshmen.
In addition, guard Adrian Antunez is one of the section’s elite sophomores and back after missing two seasons with injuries is George Peterson Jr., a 6-5 forward.