It’s arguably the most glaring statistic in the past 10 years of Central Section basketball, and it can be found in the Selland Arena finals program under boys “Division I Past Winners.”
Only the school that pops out is the one listed under the “Runner Up” column: Clovis West.
And it is there that the Golden Eagles are for 2007, ’08, ’11, ’12 and ’13.
“I’ve had some golds and I’ve had some silvers,” said Clovis West coach Tom Orlich, who won three consecutive D-I titles from 2005-07.
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And he’s favored to win another after being top-seeded Saturday in Porterville by a four-man selection committee headed by section Assistant Commissioner Jeff Cardoza.
The Eagles won the Tri-River Athletic Conference at 9-1 and are 20-5 overall.
“It’s tough winning the TRAC, it’s tough getting to Selland and even tougher to win that game,” said Orlich, one of the winningest coaches in state history at 814-268 in 38 years (25 at South Lake Tahoe; 13 at CW). “It’s not a great feeling to lose at Selland, but it’s a great experience just for the kids to be there.”
Clovis West, which received a bye for Wednesday’s first round, will open Friday against No. 8 Liberty-Bakersfield or No. 9 Clovis East.
No team in the section can match the Eagles’ senior leadership, featuring three-year starters Michael Orlich (coach’s son), Stacey Leggett and Colin DeLaere.
But Tom Orlich notes that Central was top-seeded and senior-driven a year ago before losing 74-62 at home to No. 4 Bullard in the D-I semifinals: “Central was in a very similar position last year and it didn’t work out, so there’s no guarantee. Yes, we’re playing well, but it’s a new season.”
Girls playoffs will begin Tuesday. Boys and girls finals for the 11th year will be at Selland on March 6-7.
Among the hot spots in the seedings on a day Commissioner Jim Crichlow didn’t participate while at a conference in Indianapolis:
• It went Clovis West, defending champion Edison, Centennial and Bullard in the headline division — boys D-I.
• Roosevelt (22-4) and Fresno (23-3) were seeded Nos. 4-5 in boys D-II only three days after the Rough Riders, at home, rallied past the Warriors 72-69 in an epic North Yosemite League finale. This means the conference co-champions are on a quarterfinal collision course for a rematch at the same site. They are seeded behind Mission Oak (27-1), Hanford (22-4) and Ridgeview (19-7). Fresno defeated Roosevelt 62-61 for last year’s D-III title.
• Immanuel’s 24-2 boys, as expected, landed the most undisputed top seed of all, in D-IV. The Eagles are top-ranked by The Bee overall in the section and are No. 3 in the state’s D-IV by Cal-Hi Sports.
• And Garces’ 25-1 girls, up to D-I after winning D-II in 2014, were top-seeded over two-year reigning champion Clovis West (21-4).
Clovis West girls coach Craig Campbell, seeking his sixth section championship in 10 years with the Eagles, said the selection committee did a “very good job” following a new criteria pushed by coaches to the section’s basketball advisory committee, and then approved by the Board of Managers.
“While we would have loved to be a 1,” Campbell said, “when we looked at the new criteria, we knew we wouldn’t be. The committee stuck true to the criteria the coaches wanted.
“There had been a lot of frustration over the years while following the old criteria, which was too vague. The goal of the advisory committee was for the selection committee to have something in place to follow so there wouldn’t be as many surprises.”
The new criteria, Cardoza said, is double tiered. The first, in order, follows coaches’ rankings of the top 10 in each division, overall winning percentage and strength of schedule as determined by MaxPreps. If there’s a clear-cut winner, Cardoza said, the second tier isn’t used.
If not, the second tier follows place in common league, head-to-head results, record versus common opponents, MaxPreps division rankings and overall winning percentage. As soon as a school meets one of the criteria, it receives the seed.