As expected, the San Joaquin Memorial boys and the Clovis West girls have ascended to the top of The Bee’s first Central Section high school basketball rankings.
Memorial (13-4) has split two games with the No. 2 Clovis West boys. More importantly, the Panthers won the last meeting, 71-66 last month when they also avenged one of their other losses, beating the hosts for the Modesto Christian tournament championship.
Memorial’s other two losses were to Liberty-Henderson, Nev., and Desert Vista-Phoenix, both in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.
The Clovis West girls, whose senior-dominated team won the state championship last season, are led by junior Madison Campbell and have only lost to national powers King-Milwaukee and Gilbert-Ariz.
Campbell set a school record with 41 points in an 81-58 victory over Lake Highland Prep-Orlando, Fla., in December
Many of the section’s basketball teams are starting league play this week, including the Memorial boys (hosting No. 8 Edison) and the Clovis West girls (hosting No. 10 Central).
On the rise: No. 2 Clovis North girls
There is plenty of excitement with the Clovis North girls basketball team this season.
Can’t blame them for feeling that way after starting the season 16-2. This, after 17-11 last season (which ended in the first round of the section playoffs) and 13-13 in 2015-16.
The Bee’s No. 2 Broncos hope to continue the momentum into the Tri-River Athletic Conference opener against visiting Clovis East at 7 p.m. Friday.
Clovis North junior point guard Taylor Pilot said it’s all about “team chemistry.”
“All of us have been working really hard to try and perform our very best,” Pilot said. “Being a younger team has helped our team chemistry since we’ve been playing together for a while. The great chemistry is a reason why I believe we’re doing well so far. The trust the players have in the coaches and the coaches have in the players have helped us get to this point.”
The roster is made up of one senior, one freshman, two juniors and eight sophomores.
Heather Long is in her sixth season as coach. Her best season came in 2014-15 when the Broncos finished 19-8 and 7-3.
“Our philosophy has always been work hard and do the little things,” Long said. “Building a program … we had these kids for a long time. It’s fun to see it all paying off for them. Obviously, we haven’t accomplished anything we would like to. It’s exciting to be 16-2, and I tell the kids we don’t take that for granted, but we’re 0-0. These girls are playing well together because they have great chemistry on the court.”
The Broncos are coming off a 79-40 victory over Modesto Christian on Jan. 3. Sophomore guard Savannah Tucker led the way with 32 points, while sophomore guard Rowan Hein chipped in with 23 points.
“We stay motivated because we all have one goal and that is winning,” Pilot said. “Our coach always said even before preseason started that everything counts and how hard we work now will determine where we will be in March.”
Coaching milestones watch
Mark Hatton and Brad Felder are each nearing 500 career basketball coaching wins.
The Tulare Union boys team will try to give Hatton his milestone win against host Monache at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Hatton was at Corcoran from 1993-2001, according to section historian Bob Barnett. He’s been at Tulare Union since 2002 and has a career record 499-241.
Felder sits at 498-246 and his Hanford boys will face Washington Union at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Saturday Showcase at Edison High.
Felder (498-246) started at Washington Union 1993 and was there until 1995 before going to Hanford in 1996.
Former Bakersfield High coach Mark Hutson leads the section with 511 wins.
Here are some records as noted by Barnett:
▪ Fresno High junior Ishmael Cruz made nine 3-pointers to set a school record in a 90-30 win against Caruthers on Dec. 21.
▪ Selma senior Manny Singh scored a career-high 41 points, third-best in school history, in the Bears’ 68-42 victory over Kennedy at the Jesse Lujan Memorial Tournament.
▪ California City boys set a new Central Section record by making 22 of 51 3-pointers in a 115-72 win over McAuliffe-Lancaster in December.
▪ Immanuel senior Krystale Gutierrez set a school record by scoring 46 points in a 78-68 victory over Firebaugh in December. She made 16 free throws and had 15 rebounds and 10 steals.
The Bee’s Top 10 basketball rankings
Records through Jan. 10
1. San Joaquin Memorial
2. Clovis West
10. Clovis East
1. Clovis West
2. Clovis North
9. Sierra Pacific
10. Mission Oak
A list of boys basketball games for Saturday, Jan. 13 at Edison High
Fowler vs. Coalinga, 9:30 a.m.
Washington Union vs. Hanford, 11 a.m.
Kingsburg vs. Lemoore, 12:30 p.m.
Sunnyside vs. Selma, 2 p.m.
Clovis East vs. Liberty-Bakersfield, 3:30 p.m.
Clovis vs. Bullard, 5 p.m.
Central vs. Bakersfield, 6:30 p.m.
Edison vs. Immanuel, 8 p.m.
College of the Sequoias MLK Event
A list of basketball games for Monday, Jan. 15, at Porter Field House Gym
Golden West vs. Sierra Pacific, 4:30 p.m.
Sanger vs. Redwood, 7:30 p.m.
Hanford West vs. Arvin, 10:30 a.m.
Golden Valley vs. Exeter, noon
Independence vs. Bullard, 1:30 p;.m.
Mission Oak vs. Sierra Pacific, 3 p.m.
Sanger vs. Redwood, 6 p.m.