No matter how often the Clovis West girls basketball program wins a Valley title, there’s always a new story to tell.
And while the latest chapter in the Golden Eagles book of legends has yet to be completed, one thing is certain: tradition doesn’t graduate.
A year after graduating five Division I players and winning the CIF Open Division state championship with a 34-2 record and No. 1 national ranking, Clovis West won its unprecedented sixth straight D-I Central Section title behind junior Maddie Campbell’s 20 points and freshman Nikki Tom’s 19, rolling over Clovis North 63-49 in front of over 5,000 fans at Selland Arena and continuing a dynasty that reloads instead of rebuilding.
“Last year was a once-in-a-lifetime club with so much talent but this year is special in a totally different way,” Clovis West coach Craig Campbell said. “To take a young team with the returners in totally different roles – it’s just been a great job by the kids and coaches. The kids just kept getting better.”
Few could have predicted a 30-3 record, a 10-0 league record and currently a No. 5 state ranking by Cal-Hi Sports with only Maddie Campbell, the coach’s daughter who currently holds 21 Division I offers, receiving significant minutes from last season.
And in this championship game on a familiar court against a familiar opponent in Clovis North (26-5), Campbell would set the tone early and score seven points in the first 2:42 of the game en route to a 36-22 halftime lead.
The Broncos would never get closer than 11 points in the second half.
“Pure joy,” said Campbell about winning her third Valley title. “We’ve worked so hard since the end of last season to get to this point both as individuals and as a team.”
Earlier this season, Campbell became the new school season record holder in scoring and 3-pointers made.
And it was Tom, certainly next in line as the next great Golden Eagle basketball star, showing ice in her veins, hitting three 3-pointers in the first half and a perfect 6-6 at the free-throw line.
“We’ve tried to take her from an athlete to a refined player,” Campbell said of Tom, who’s logged over 120 games at the varsity level which includes two years of summer ball. “She’s got a very bright future.”
In addition, a pair of Clovis West juniors certainly contributed in the win: post player Aari Sanders scored 10 points with five rebounds and Champney Pulliam recorded six assists, five rebounds and two steals.
Not to be overlooked is the season from upstart and young Clovis North, whose only losses are three to Clovis West, state No. 4 Harvard-Westlake and King High School, Wisconsin’s No. 1 ranked team. They were led by sophomores Savannah Tucker (19 points on 8-12 shooting) and Rowan Hein (18 points and seven rebounds).
However, this was another storied year for the Golden Eagles who under Craig Campbell have orchestrated nine Valley titles and 13 league titles in 13 years.
“From Day 1 we never lowered the bar,” Campbell said. “It’s not about winning a championship every year, but we also are not going to compromise our culture, preparation or work ethic.
“We are playing our best basketball right now.”
Clovis West received the No. 2 seed in the CIF State Open Division playoffs and will play No. 7 Mater Dei at home on Friday, March 9. Clovis North was awarded the No. 6 seed and travels to No. 3 Harvard-Westlake. The Open Division pits the top eight teams together no matter school size.