Clovis West High’s girls have a Central Section top ranking, no fewer than eight players being recruited by major colleges and a team blueprinted for a fourth consecutive section Division I title.
Then there’s St. Mary’s-Stockton and a coach with Fresno County roots.
“We really do have 11 players who will be Division I in college,” Rams coach Tom Gonzalves, a 1974 Riverdale graduate, told Cal-Hi Sports. “These girls just have so much athleticism to go with everything they do.”
And – carrying a No. 1 national ranking by USA Today – they’ll be featured in the 16-team Nike Central Valley Showdown that runs Thursday through Saturday at Clovis West.
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Clovis West, ranked 15th in the state, could be on a collision course with St. Mary’s in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game at the school’s West Gym.
The St. Mary’s and Clovis West girls, along with Immanuel’s boys – also top-ranked in the section by The Bee – share this in common: They return their best players, and there are many of them, from powerhouse teams.
St. Mary’s went 34-1, averaged 87 points a game and won the CIF State Open Division title last season – its eighth state crown, seventh under Gonzalves, who once coached basketball and baseball at Hanford.
Clovis West went 26-5, won its sixth section D-I championship in 10 years under Craig Campbell and advanced to the semifinals of the Southern California Regional Open Division.
Immanuel’s boys went 30-3, captured the section D-IV title and advanced to the semifinals of the SoCal D-IV Regional.
Nate will provide a steady leadership, continuity, strong relationships with our players and a fierce intellect. His work ethic and knowledge of the game are equaled by few.
Former Immanuel coach C.J. Haydock, last spring commenting on Nate McClurg taking over the program
Immanuel returns Bee co-Players of the Year Colin Slater and Darrin Person Jr., and more. And Nate McClurg, after assisting the program for three years, takes over from C.J. Haydock, now an assistant at Fresno Pacific.
In the Clovis West girls program, it remains Campbell, who’s 233-67 (.777) at the Tri-River Athletic Conference school and 597-192 (.757) overall in a career launched with 11 seasons at Reno High.
His success is progressively drawing more major college coaches into the Eagles’ nest to observe practices and games. There have been 12 there this fall alone.
10 Tri-River Athletic Conference girls basketball championships for Clovis West in 10 years under coach Craig Campbell
Combine that with talent and participation on summer travel teams such as Cal Stars out of the Bay Area, and the number of Clovis West girls positioning themselves for college opportunities is astounding.
Among this season’s team, guard Ashley Cross – The Bee’s Defensive Player of the Year last season – has signed with Fresno Pacific, guard Aysha Kirkland has committed to the Sunbirds, forward Bre’yanna Sanders to Arizona State and forward Mia Gliatta to William Jessup in Rocklin.
In addition, San Jose State has offered scholarships to point guard Danae Marquez, forward Megan Anderson and point guard Madison Campbell, and Sacramento State wants Anderson and guard Sarah Bates.
Campbell, daughter of the coach, forward Aari’yanna Sanders and Champney Pulliam are freshmen who have played together since third grade, including the past two years at Kastner Intermediate, where they went 38-0 while winning all but one game by at least 25 points.
CENTRAL SECTION BASKETBALL RANKINGS
- 1. Clovis West (26-5 last season)
- 2. Garces (27-3)
- 3. Edison (26-5)
- 4. Hanford (21-7)
- 5. Centennial (18-9)
- 6. Clovis (17-11)
- 7. Independence (27-3)
- 8. Ridgeview (20-5)
- 9. Clovis North (19-8)
- 10. Central (9-17)
- 1. Immanuel (30-3)
- 2. Centennial (22-9)
- 3. Clovis North (15-14)
- 4. Hanford (27-5)
- 5. Central (19-11)
- 6. Buchanan (10-16)
- 7. Clovis West (21-6)
- 8. Ridgeview (21-8)
- 9. Edison (22-9)
- 10. Liberty-Bakersfield (20-11)