If there was ever a team to serve as the prime example of one that could come completely back from a nightmarish outing, then it’s this year’s girls at Clovis West. They didn’t just lose to Centennial of Las Vegas at the St. Mary’s MLK Showcase in Stockton in January, they were throttled. By the end of March, however, the Golden Eagles became California’s queens of the court and today they’ve now been officially listed as the 2017 State Team of the Year.
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If one were to say after watching the Clovis West of Fresno girls basketball team get defeated by Centennial of Las Vegas 70-44 in January’s St. Mary’s MLK Showcase in Stockton that this same group would end up as California’s No. 1 team for the season you’d have said at that time, “You’re nuts.”
That’s indeed where head coach Craig Campbell and his girls are finishing. They defeated Archbishop Mitty of San Jose 44-40 on Saturday night at the Golden 1 Center in the CIF Open Division state final and on Monday are being officially added to the list of State Teams of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports.
The Golden Eagles had become a legitimate State TOY contender in December when they beat Long Beach Poly and lost in overtime to Mitty at the Iolani tournament in Hawaii. They later went to the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona and won what most consider the most prestigious tourney in the nation.Against Centennial in Stockton, Clovis West trailed 20-5 in the first half and never recovered.
“It was just too hard to come back after that first half we had against a team like that,” Campbell said at the time. “I thought we played soft, just didn’t defend, took bad shots and had too many turnovers.”
While the coach still probably wasn’t happy with some of the shots and some of the turnovers the Golden Eagles had against Mitty, they definitely weren’t soft and they sure did defend. The Monarchs, in fact, didn’t score a basket for the final 5:41 of the contest and they were forced into a season-high 23 turnovers.
When the season began, Clovis West was thought to be in a group of about five teams that looked like could be Open Division champions. Due to returning players, the list also included Mitty, Long Beach Poly, Stockton St. Mary’s and perhaps Richmond Salesian.
Clovis West’s inclusion even to be a contender goes against the usual dynamic of the best teams coming from private schools or a very large public school like Poly with a school district that has open enrollment possibilities for its high schools.
The Golden Eagles were simply a group of girls who’ve played together for many years, especially three-year senior starters Sarah Bates, Danae Marquez, Bre’yanna Sanders and Megan Anderson. They settled into their roles seamlessly with Marquez as the slick point guard, Sanders as the intense defender/rebounder, Anderson as the long-range shooter and Bates as the one who was practically a second point guard and an additional scorer.
Adding more to the arsenal both this year and last was sophomore wing Madison Campbell, the coach’s daughter who was an All-State sophomore last season. THen this season Clovis North transfer Tess Amundsen, who has signed with Boise State, was added as well.
In the end, no other team in California could match Clovis West’s chemistry. Plus, having six future Dl college players on the roster was hard to beat in and of itself. Other than Amunsdsen, Bates is headed to UC Santa Barbara, Marquez and Anderson are going to San Jose State and Sanders has signed with Arizona State. Campbell doesn’t have a commitment yet, but it’s obvious she’ll be a D1 recruit as well.
“That was an unbelievable team and an unbelievable coach that we just played,” Campbell said after last Saturday’s game. “With the schedule we set up, at no point did I think we’d have two losses. I thought we’d have five or six and that’s what we’d need to be ready for the playoffs. But these girls won playing man defense, won playing zone, won in games when we made 18 threes and won playing ugly.”
In historical terms, Campbell wouldn’t say this year’s Golden Eagles are the best in CIF Central Section history, even though they are the first team from the section to win either a Division I or Open Division title. He mentioned San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno teams in the 1970s that were led by three-time Ms. Basketball Player of the Year Jackie White and a Hanford squad in 2001 that won a Division II state title.
Well, we saw those other teams as well, and while White remains as one of the best players we’ve ever seen and would be hard even for Clovis West’s current defense to contain, this year’s team at Clovis West is superior. It’s not only the State Team of the Year, but it is the best team in section history.
Congratulations to all of the players, coaches, parents and fans of this year’s State Team of the Year – the Clovis West Golden Eagles.
Cal-Hi Sports Girls Basketball
State Teams of the Year All-Time List
2017 – Fresno Clovis West (34-2)
2016 – West Hills Chaminade (31-4)
2015 – Stockton St. Mary’s (34-1)
2014 – Long Beach Poly (27-3)
2013 – Oakland Bishop O’Dowd (30-3)
2012 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (34-3)
2011 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (34-1)
2010 – Santa Ana Mater Dei (32-1)
2009 – Brea Olinda Brea (33-2)
2008 – San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral (33-0)
2007 – Long Beach Poly (36-1)
2006 – Fullerton Troy (33-1)
2005 – Piedmont (32-2)
2004 – Piedmont (33-2)
2003 – Lynwood (32-1)
2002 – Lynwood (32-0)
2001 – Harbor City Narbonne (28-3)
2000 – Harbor City Narbonne (34-0)
1999 – San Jose Archbishop Mitty (31-0)
1998 – Harbor City Narbonne (32-1)*
1997 – Berkeley (29-3)
1996 – Irvine Woodbridge (32-2)
1995 – Irvine Woodbridge (33-1)
1994 – Brea Olinda Brea (33-0)
1993 – Lynwood (31-0)
1992 – RH Estates Peninsula (33-0)
1991 – Berkeley (30-2)
1990 – Inglewood Morningside (32-3)
1989 – Inglewood Morningside (33-1)
1988 – Fremont Oakland (28-0)**
1987 – San Diego Point Loma (34-0)
1986 – San Diego Point Loma (31-1)
1985 – Compton (26-0)
1984 – Ventura Buena (31-0)
1983 – Ventura Buena (28-4)
1982 – Riverside Poly (34-0)
1981 – Riverside Poly (29-0)
1980 – Berkeley (29-0)
1979 – Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1978 – Huntington Beach (25-2)
1977 – Los Angeles (16-0)
1976 – Ventura (23-0)
1975 – Chula Vista Hilltop (18-0)
1974 – Berkeley (19-1)
1973 – Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (12-0)
1972 – Ventura Buena (8-0)
*Forfeit losses not included. CIF Division I state title vacated due to residency issues.
**Eleven wins forfeited due to use of ineligible player.