Clovis News: Sports

Orlich's 39 propels Clovis West girls

Her three-point play a minute into the game was a hint.

Her 17 points and six rebounds at halftime Saturday night -- this, for a point guard, understand -- made clear something special was about to happen.

Then, finally, the 16 points in the fourth quarter when the clock was ticking on her four-year career and Clovis West High's season absolutely defined her conviction.

"It was my last home game at Clovis West, and I promised myself and my teammates that I would put every ounce of me on this floor tonight," Brianna Orlich said after delivering 39 points and 13 rebounds in the second-seeded Golden Eagles' 61-57 win over No. 3 Santa Monica in a Southern California Regional Division I semifinal.

At a standard-bearing program for girls basketball in the Central Section, with 12 titles in the past 20 years, perhaps never has there been a greater individual performance -- especially considering the stage. And it was there that Orlich gleaned a career high while largely going head-to-head with UCLA-bound Thea Lemberger of Santa Monica (27-7).

"She really wanted it," Lemberger said of Orlich, who will extend her career at Columbia of the Ivy League. "You could tell she plays really hard, and I respect her for that."

It may take another epic Orlich effort for Clovis West to reach the state D-I championship March 27 at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena.

Standing in the way is nationally fifth-ranked Long Beach Poly, which defeated Summit-Fontana 80-53 Saturday. The Jackrabbits (30-2) will play the Eagles for the regional title next Saturday at USC's Galen Center at 6 p.m.

"I've wanted to play Poly for four years," Orlich said. "I'm so happy to have the opportunity."

Clovis West and Poly played in the national invitational Iolani Prep Classic in Hawaii in early December.

They didn't play each other, but Campbell saw enough of Poly to draw judgment: "They have five or six [major college] players, have tremendous work ethic and are well coached. Basically, I thought they were unbeatable. But our kids have really improved in the last two months, and anything can happen in one game."

With No. 30 on the floor, yes. That's the jersey number Orlich wasn't going to turn in today.

"I've honestly not wanted anything more in my entire life than a win tonight," she said. "And whether that's scoring 40 or getting other people to score 40, I was going to do what I had to for a win."

Coach Craig Campbell has seen nothing like it, and he's seen plenty, with five section titles and a state championship at Reno High before coming to Clovis West, where he's won another three section crowns.

"Her competitive will is the highest of any kid I've had in 16 years," he said. "Unbelievable, just unbelievable. She refused to let us lose."

As if she hadn't done enough already, Orlich found yet another gear with the scored tied, 48-48, and 4 minutes remaining. It was then that she drove toward the right baseline, made a one-handed scoop layup and went sprawling on the floor.

She slapped the floor, bounced up and proceeded to make two free throws, another drive and one more free throw, extending the lead to 55-48 with 2:10 remaining.

A Lemberger drive contributed to a 6-0 Vikings run that hacked the deficit to 55-54 with a minute left.

But the Eagles responded with a 5-0 surge to put it away on two Janae Coffee free throws, two Orlich free throws after she knifed in for an offensive rebound and a free throw by Katie Ogdon.