Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West girls lose in regional final

LOS ANGELES -- When Clovis West High's Katie Ogdon made consecutive 3-point shots to tie the game early in the third quarter Saturday night, Long Beach Poly -- top-ranked in the state and No. 5 in the nation -- actually was looking at the scoreboard.

Then, unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, the Jackrabbits began to look for something else -- long-range shooting.

Worse for Clovis West, Poly made four in a row in a 16-5 run to close the third quarter en route to a 68-53 victory in the Southern California Regional Division I girls basketball championship at USC's Galen Center.

Ariya Crook-Williams, averaging one 3-pointer a game coming in, made three in the run that gave Poly (31-2) command it wouldn't relinquish while winning its 23rd straight.

"If you're going to defend us, you're not going to try to defend our 3-point shooters," said coach Carl Buggs, whose Jackrabbits will try for a historic fifth-straight state title next Saturday against Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills at Bakersfield's Rabobank Arena.

Oak Ridge, crushed 84-55 at Hanford on Jan. 30, advanced with a 52-42 win over Berkeley for the NorCal D-I title at Sacramento's Arco Arena.

"The job is not done," Buggs said. "Winning the state is the ultimate goal."

The doubt that Poly would have another opportunity was brief Saturday night.

The Jackrabbits, crushing Clovis West 12-1 on the offensive boards in the first quarter, dominated early and late.

But Eagles center Janae Coffee, going to college (Long Beach State) on scholarship but opposing at least three Poly inside players who will do the same, began to assert herself early in the second quarter, making seven points off three consecutive offensive rebounds.

Brianna Orlich closed the half with a drive and two free throws, Ogdon drained the 3s in the third, and suddenly the Eagles (27-5) had wiped out a 10-point deficit and tied it 33-33.

"I thought we had a chance, but I also thought that same thing from the beginning of the game -- that was never out of my mind whatsoever," said Orlich, whose 39-point performance in a 61-57 semifinal win over Santa Monica a week earlier drew "suffocating" defense in Poly's box-and-one ploy from Poly's Brittany Wilson.

A Sheila Boykin drive gave the Jackrabbits the lead for good, 35-33.

And then the dagger -- four of them, actually.

Not only did Crook-Williams dial long distance three times, Olivia Montgomery made another -- all within 3 minutes for a Poly team that was only averaging 3.2 3s per game.

"I saw my team settling," said Crook-Williams, who scored a team-high 16 points. "In my head [when the score was tied] I was thinking like, 'Oh, no, we're not going to allow this to happen.' "

Buggs added: "It just happened in the flow of the game, and she has the freedom to shoot anytime she's open."

Which can happen against Poly. The Jackrabbits have two post players -- Ta'nitra Byrd (UNLV) and Thaddesia Southall (USC) -- headed to college, and another even better in junior Boykin. Inevitably, their guards are going to roam free.

"It's kind of pick your poison," said Clovis West coach Craig Campbell, whose Eagles had a 19-game winning streak snapped. "They're so talented at every position. We did take the post away, then they hit the 3s. That was definitely the game-changer."

Orlich finished with 16 points, Coffee had 14 and 10 rebounds, and Ogdon and Se'nyce Parrish had 12 and 11 points for Clovis West, which was seeking its first regional title.

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