State Coach of Year: Craig Campbell

State Coach of the Year Craig Campbell of Fresno Clovis West stands with his daughter, Madison, a sophomore, after team won CIF Open Division state title. Photo: Mark Tennis.

It all came together for this year’s girls basketball team at Clovis West of Fresno and with one of the most balanced starting fives you’ll ever see, it also is the perfect time to choose the Golden Eagles’ Craig Campbell as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 season. There was a lot of doubt about whether Clovis West or Archbishop Mitty of San Jose would win the CIF Open Division state title, but even before the opening tipoff we already knew we were going to choose Campbell for this honor.

For our post on each of the divisional girls basketball State Coaches of the Year, CLICK HERE.

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You know you are dealing with a very good coach when it comes time to pick players off of his or her teams for postseason honors. And for the last two seasons for the team at Clovis West of Fresno, it’s more than just hair-splitting. It’s more like going to a microscope, comparing differences at a cellular level.

It helped that in this year’s CIF Open Division state final in girls basketball that one of the players at Clovis West, senior guard Sarah Bates, scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and helped lift the Golden Eagles past Archbishop Mitty of San Jose 44-40. That made it possible for Bates (a UC Santa Barbara recruit) to basically break a tie with her three other three-year starting standouts and become the team’s Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year finalist.

Last year, the Fresno Bee chose one of those other players, point guard Danae Marquez (San Jose State), as its player of the year. The other two top honors candidates are sharp-shooter Megan Anderson (San Jose State) and inside defender, rebounder and scorer Bre’yanna Sanders (Arizona State).

Campbell salutes those who traveled from Fresno to see his team top Long Beach Poly in the CIF SoCal Open Division final held at Long Beach State. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Due to putting together that balanced lineup and one that made history by winning the first CIF Open Division or Division I state title by a CIF Central Section squad, Clovis West’s Craig Campbell has now been selected as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.

Campbell becomes just the third State Coach of the Year in girls hoops from a CIF Central Section school since the Cal-Hi Sports selections begin, which is for the 1972 season. The only others are Mary Brown of Fresno San Joaquin Memorial for 1973 and Dwayne Tubbs of Hanford for 2001.

“Thanks very much, I really appreciate this,” Campbell said on Thursday after his was informed of the honor. “It’s just been a surreal experience. There are so many great teams in California that to be the last one standing is remarkable.”

As for that lineup, Campbell said the balance and chemistry was essential for the championship run.

“There were so many teams we played talent-wise that were better than us,” he said. “But collectively we were better.”

Campbell said before the season that a dream game would be to have his top four three-year starters plus Clovis North transfer Tess Amundsen (Boise State) and his sophomore daughter, Madison, all score between 10 and 13 points. That ended up not far from their season averages.

Most of that chemistry comes from Campbell being able to run feeder programs at seven elementary schools in which the players will never be split due to school boundaries. At Clovis Unified, that’s how it’s done at all schools. The Clovis West girls basketball feeder program extends to the third and fourth grade, which is when this year’s top four seniors of Bates, Anderson, Marquez and Sanders began playing together.

Campbell did the same thing when he started his coaching career at Reno High in Nevada, except the feeder program could only go down to seventh grade. A native of Reno, Campbell guided the Reno High girls for 11 years and in 2001 the Huskies won the largest class state title. He’s now been at Clovis West for 12 years and in those years has compiled a 266-71 record.

“I was very happy doing what I was doing there,” Campbell said. “A mutual friend told me about Clovis West. Then Karen Selby (the athletic director at the time) asked for an interview. My teams at Reno at the time were better than they were at Clovis West, but what really impressed me was at Clovis West everybody I met and every coach wanted to be No. 1.”

Campbell actually was the Cal-Hi Sports Division I State Coach of the Year just three seasons ago. While it is almost impossible that any coach ever gets to be the State Coach of the Year (overall) more than once, we won’t let a previous divisional honor prevent anyone from being the overall selection.

Since Archbishop Mitty’s Sue Phillips has already been State Coach of the Year (her selection was made for the 1999 season) and since even getting to the CIF Open Division state final out of the Southern California region was a major accomplishment for Clovis West, Campbell was just about locked in to be getting this honor no matter what happened in Sacramento. Fortunately for him, he got to talk Thursday about winning a state title and not losing in a state final.

2016 State Coach of the Year Mark Lehman from San Bernardino Cajon announced his retirement at the end of the 2017 season. Photo: Mark Tennis.

(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

2017 – Craig Campbell, Fresno Clovis West (34-2)
2016 – Mark Lehman, San Bernardino Cajon (27-6)
2015 – Kelli DiMuro, West Hills Chaminade (27-4)
2014 – Doc Scheppler, Los Altos Hills Pinewood
2013 – Malik McCord, Oakland Bishop O’Dowd
2012 – Terri Bamford, La Jolla Country Day
2011 – Steve Smith, Los Angeles Windward (29-4)
2010 – Melissa Hearlihy, North Hollywood
Harvard-Westlake (34-1)
2009 – Ron Hirschman, Danville Monte Vista (29-3)
2008 – Lorene Morgan, Long Beach Millikan (28-5)
2007 – Carl Buggs, Long Beach Poly (36-1)
2006 – Brian Harrigan, San Francisco Sacred Heart
Cathedral (30-2)
2005 – Richard Wiard, Bishop Amat (35-0)
2004 – Tom Gonsalves, Stockton St. Mary’s (32-4)
2003 – Kevin Kiernan, Fullerton Troy (31-2)
2002 – Lisa Cooper, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (28-5)
2001 – Dwayne Tubbs, Hanford (31-2)
2000 – James Anderson, Harbor City Narbonne (34-0)
1999 – Sue Phillips, San Jose Mitty (31-0)
1998 – Jeff Sink, Brea Brea-Olinda (33-1)
1997 – Yvette Angel, Torrance Bishop Montgomery (29-3)
1996 – Mary Hauser, Santa Ana Mater Dei (29-3)
1995 – Scott Brown, Moraga Campolindo (32-3)
1994 – Mike Ciardella, Atherton Sacred Heart Prep (38-0)
1993 – Ellis Barfield, Lynwood (31-0)
1992 – Wendell Yoshida, RH Estates Peninsula (33-0)
1991 – Gene Nakamura, Berkeley (30-2)
1990 – Frank Scott, Inglewood Morningside (32-3)
1989 – Mark Trakh, Brea Brea-Olinda (31-2)
1988 – Richard Hull, Willows (26-4)
1987 – Lee Trepanier, San Diego Pt. Loma (34-0)
1986 – Van Girard, Lynwood (28-4)
1985 – Tom Campbell, Chico Pleasant Valley (28-0)
1984 – Joe Vaughan, Ventura Buena (31-0)
1983 – Larry Newman, Anderson (26-1)
1982 – Tom Pryor, Cerritos Gahr (29-5)
1981 – Art Webb, L.A. Locke (19-2)
1980 – Spike Hensley, Berkeley (29-0)
1979 – Harvey Green, Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1978 – Joanne Kellogg, Huntington Beach (25-2)
1977 – Tami Yasuda, Fair Oaks Bella Vista (30-1)
1976 – Chuck Shively, Ventura (23-0)
1975 – Janet Balsley, San Diego Pt. Loma (34-0)
1974 – No selection
1973 – Mary Brown, Fresno San Joaquin Memorial (12-0)
1972 – Judy Hartz, Ventura Buena (8-0)

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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