By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
The Clovis West girls basketball team doesn’t shy away from competition and now they’re being rewarded in national and state rankings.
With an 18-3 overall record the Golden Eagles are currently ranked No. 21 in the nation by USA Today and No. 13 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports in their latest rankings. Two of the three losses are to the No. 1 team in the nation St. Mary’s of Stockton (including a tough 70-60 loss on Jan. 6 at their place), and a last second loss to Hamilton of Arizona in the Nike Tournament of Champions, the No. 1 ranked team in the state of Arizona.
Playing in tournaments up and down the state in pre-season and showcase games only make the team better with experience says head coach Craig Campbell.
“If you want to have a special season, you are going to have to overcome adversity and also win on the road,” says Campbell, in this eleventh year at Clovis West. “We do those trips on purpose in driving 2-3 hours to play an elite team in a packed, hostile environment. If we are fortunate to be in that position later when it counts, then we have that experience to draw upon.”
This hasn’t stopped the Golden Eagles from plowing through the first three games of TRAC play either, beating Clovis North 77-35, Central 73-22 and Buchanan 73-28.
With Clovis West no stranger to playing their best basketball late into the season –they are the three-time defending Division 1 Central Section champions—and having played in the state’s open division the past two years, this relatively young team is primed for another post-season run. Last season, they beat Alemany at home in the opening round of state before falling to Chaminade of West Hills.
And this year, led by the dynamic junior foursome of Sarah Bates, Danae Marquez, Megan Anderson and Bre’yanna Sanders, the Golden Eagles are again flying high. But, if there’s one thing this team is not, it’s complacent.
“All of our coaches everyday make sure we know that we have to get better and not settle because once we’re satisfied that’s when we lose our edge,” said Marquez, the sharp-shooting point guard who has verbally committed to San Jose State University. “The attitude of staying hungry is key to our success.”
Seniors Ashley Cross and Aysha Kirkland and freshman Madison Campbell are all a part of a rotation that sometimes goes 11 or 12 deep.
Also, paramount in Clovis West’s success is instilling the attitude of never becoming satisfied, one that Coach Campbell preaches constantly.
“We try to really go day by day, game by game,” says Campbell. “Each half of each game, we are still talking about getting better. It is an honor to be mentioned among all of those great teams nationally. But if we get caught up in rankings and lose our desire to get better each day, we are going to get knocked off and all of it will be for nothing.”
And these girls get along just as well off the court as on the court.
“Our team is very close off the court, which obviously carries over onto the court with our team chemistry,” says Bates, one of the top scorers on the team. “I love the game of basketball and I love being able to share it and grow in the game with girls who I love and who also love the game. This team is my family.”
With a roster full of players who are unselfish, play with intensity and are battle-tested, this year’s version of Golden Eagles girls basketball will continue to rise – and it’s mighty fun to watch.