By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
Where were you when the final buzzer sounded and the Clovis West girls accomplished the ultimate goal, reaching the summit of the high school basketball world and shouting to the nation that the best side is from the West Side? Were you watching on TV in the comfort of your own home? Perhaps following on Twitter, the superhighway of information at your fingertips? Maybe you took the drive up Highway 99 and were witnesses in Sacramento at the beautiful Golden 1 Center cheering, screaming, hoping, wishing, waving your hand like a Jedi trying to alter shots in the Golden Eagles favor?
Well, I was lucky enough to have a front row (actually second row on press row) seat to Central Section history when the girls took down Northern Nemesis Archbishop Mitty 44-40, fueled by the never-bashful Sarah Bates and her 11 straight points in the fourth quarter. I count myself blessed to have been able to cover this team extensively this season, sensing they could well in fact win a state championship; a class that evolved from a group of wide-eyed freshman in 2014 to legendary status, a team for all-time.
And there they were at midcourt; seniors Megan Anderson and Danae Marquez embracing with Bates jumping up to join the celebration, Nike headband and flowing ponytail bobbing up and down like a pogo stick. Bre’yanna Sanders and Tess Amundsen were beside themselves with tears, a mix of yes-we-just-did-the-darn-thing and realizing that was the last time they would ever be on the court together as a team. Others joined in, a feverish mass of joy and hysteria.
The celebration moved to the press conference room where the girls were as giddy as a … well, a team that just won the state championship. They answered questions from some grizzled media veterans like bosses, even chiming in on what type of food they wanted afterwards (the consensus was chicken wings and ice cream or whatever coach Craig Campbell wanted, he was buying) which prompted Marquez to recite the Robert Frost meets Drake rhyme “First we are going to greet our amazing community and be hype with them, then second, we are going to grub and throw up the trophy because we just got the dub.”
Finally, after some alone time with the coaches and players in the locker room, the party moved out into the mezzanine at the Golden 1 Center where friends and family eagerly awaited the champs, smartphones and cameras in hand ready to shower the team with congrats and hugs and more screams, capturing the moments and sending them to social media for likes and loves and comments. Everyone wanted pictures with the champs, the trophy being passed around like a newborn baby.
They had done it. State champs, who woulda thought?
So, where were you when that group of 14 strong – that goofy, eclectic group of super-ballers – laid down the truth, that time we were witnesses to the greatest Central Section basketball accomplishment of all time, when those girls threw up the dub.
Adrian Martinez gets football offer from Alabama
Picking up Division I football offers for Adrian Martinez has become the norm lately but one of his latest is an absolute biggie – and it came a unexpectedly as Alabama came calling, a major offer for the heralded Clovis West quarterback.
Martinez received a private message via Twitter from the Crimson Tide’s co-defensive coordinator Tosh Lupio, and the junior quickly called back. Because, of course, when Alabama calls you return the call ASAP.
“It’s definitely surreal to say the least, just because it’s Alabama and they are in a class of their own,” said Martinez. “It’s absolute validation for me.
“I’m supposed to talk to Nick Saban in a couple of days, so I’ll get a better feel for the staff and how they are.”
Sometimes in the recruiting world, coaches will call first to simply get to know a recruit and chat. But, in the case of Martinez, Alabama fired off the offer during that first call.
“Lupio went on to tell me why Alabama was the right fit for me and why it is so special,” Martinez said. “I know all the great things about Alabama and the true football power they are so it was a really cool moment.”
After the call Martinez ran across the house to the garage where his dad was and told him the great news: “He was pretty pumped for me too.”
While there’s no doubt the offer is huge (Alabama has been to five of the last eight national championship games, winning four) and is a major confidence boost, Martinez verbally committed to Cal back in November. But since his verbal commitment, the head coach at the time Sonny Dykes was fired and offensive coordinator Jake Spivital who Martinez has a close relationship with is now at West Virginia.
Martinez is a dual-threat quarterback, just as deadly with his arm than his legs as he threw for 2,484 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 1,385 yards and 16 scores for the 8-4 Golden Eagles last season.
And a day after the Alabama phone call, Martinez was offered by Mississippi, joining SEC offers from Missouri, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Tennessee. His Pac-12 offers besides Cal includes: Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State, Oregon State, Oregon and Colorado.
Clovis West girls swimming looking strong early, boys improving
The boys and girls swim and dive teams at Clovis West are both coming off of Valley titles. In fact, the girls’ teams have won an amazing 20 straight years. The boys started a new streak after their 16-year reign was snapped in 2015.
This season, the Golden Eagles are jumping right back in the water with sights set on more Valley titles and a good showing at the CIF State Swimming and Diving Championship held again at the beautiful Clovis Olympic Swim Complex at Clovis West.
The boys recently participated in the Mission Viejo High School Invite in Irvine where they finished 9th out of 30 very strong teams from all over the state. Cal Poly signee Hunter Lane placed fifth in the 200 IM with a time of 1:56.22.
Head coach Adam Reid believes this season’s girls team could be one of the deepest teams the decorated Clovis West program has ever had. Now that’s saying a lot despite the team not at full strength yet due to some injuries. The team finished fourth at the same Mission Viejo Invite.
Sophomore Abby Samansky finished 1st in the 100 free with a new frosh/soph team record of 51.67 and broke Tristin Baxter’s 200 free frosh/soph record with a time of 1:50.93, settling for 3rd place.
Junior Caitlyn Snyder placed second in the 50 free with a 24.06 and 5th in the 100 breastroke in 1:07.87.
Clovis softball starts off TRAC with big win over Buchanan
The billing has been there since the start of the season: Clovis and Buchanan, two teams that last met in the 2016 Valley championship, a game won by the Bears 2-0.
However this is a new season, different teams, with some very familiar pitchers. Two of the best, in fact, were expected to take the circle in the much anticipated game on March 31 to open up TRAC play at Buchanan.
There was little doubt Clovis standout junior Danielle Lung was going to take the circle but Buchanan threw a bit of a curve ball (a rise pitch perhaps?) when senior Katie January trotted out instead of Molly Millar, the junior who shut out the Cougars in last year’s championship game.
January did her part before giving way to Millar in the middle innings, and that’s when the Cougars (10-1) struck for three runs in the top of the sixth, a lead they would never relinquish.
Mackenzie Byrd was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and the dangerous Jordyn Martinez was walked on four pitches. After a strikeout, Grace Henson delivered a run-scoring single as the Cougars tacked on two more with a double steal and a RBI single from Tori Mueller.
“Everybody there was expecting it to go exactly like it did,” said Clovis coach Mike Noel. “Two of the most dominant pitchers in the Valley and two teams that came in 9-1 and both in Valley finals last year. It delivered on everything.”
Lung would go on to complete the shutout with help from an unassisted double play from Mueller at shortstop, ended the game by striking out Millar. Lung finished with 9 strikeouts in the 3-0 victory. Buchanan fell to 9-2 on the season.
Clovis will host the Clovis Easter Classic during Spring Break at a time the Cougars seem to be gelling at the right time.
“They are figuring it out how to beat great teams,” Noel added. “It’s not always the double or the home run that beats good teams, in fact it rarely is. It’s the little things that win when you’re facing good pitching and good team. I feel like we’re starting to understand that a little bit.”