A year after clearly being intimidated on the road and getting bombed in the first round of the Southern California Regional Open Division girls basketball playoffs, Clovis West High this time snuggled into the comfortable confines of its own gym, fired willingly from afar and beat Alemany-Mission Hills 53-50 Friday night.
The fourth-seeded Golden Eagles made 10 3-pointers, including seven by sophomores who are no longer playing like sophomores — not that they’ve ever truly showed their age in a 26-4 season.
“We weren’t supposed to get here,” said one of four starting sophomores, Sarah Bates, who made three 3s and scored 14 points in the quarterfinal victory. “Now we’re here, winning and changing peoples’ minds. It’s been an amazing experience.”
Among additional sophomores who delivered a third straight Central Section Division I title last week after the program lost all starters — four to graduation and junior Aysha Kirkland to an ACL injury from last year — Danae Marquez had three 3s and 12 points, Bre’yanna Sanders scored 11 and Megan Anderson added two 3s and seven points.
Point guard Landynn Munster, a senior not to be forgotten because of her savvy floor presence, made two 3s and scored eight points as Clovis West reversed a 61-53 loss to Alemany (24-7) on the same court Dec. 6 in the Nike Central Valley Showdown.
The reward is a date at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chaminade-West Hills, if that can be fairly termed.
The Eagles of the Southern Section improved to 26-3 with an 82-53 torching of Narbonne-Harbor City in another quarterfinal of the Open Division, which draws the top 16 teams from all divisions in the state, eight in both the South and North.
Chaminade has twice beaten Mater Dei-Santa Ana, the state’s top-ranked team for most of the season by Cal-Hi Sports.
Clovis West, which lost 69-40 at Etiwanda in an Open Division quarterfinal last year, is unranked — but so what at this point?
“We’re playing on house money right now,” said coach Craig Campbell, who has won 78% of his games (233-66) in 10 years with the Eagles. “We’ve just got to go out (to Chaminade), do what we do and try to keep it close.”
That likely means unloading from afar once again.
“This is probably the best 3-point shooting team we’ve had at Clovis West,” he said. “When we went down to Etiwanda last year, the thinking was they were so big we have to shoot 3s. But the kids came came out tight and didn’t.
“I’m telling them now you can’t come into the state’s Open Division and not play; you’ve got to cut it loose. Tonight, our kids were loose, and it helped being on our home court. They showed a lot of moxie.”
Clovis West, down 36-35, closed the third quarter on Marquez’s drive in traffic and a 3 from the left elbow by Bates. She made another 3 early in the fourth and the Eagles wouldn’t trail again.
“We’re growing up,” Bates said, “and hopefully that will continue for seasons to come.”