After a summer full of games that don’t count in any standing, rubbing elbows and boxing out their teammates during practice sessions it was finally time for the state’s No. 2 ranked and No. 10 nationally ranked Clovis West girls to take the court in a high profile tournament.
And after starting the season with a 83-27 win over Redwood on Nov. 22, the Golden Eagles continued to pour on the steam in winning their own Central Valley Showdown championship on Dec. 3 by going 4-0 over a three-day stretch, culminated by a dominating 79-44 win over the state’s No. 22 team Carondelet of Concord in the championship game.
Behind the strong play of tournament MVP Danae Marquez, Clovis West used their signature pressure defense and superior three-point shooting in outscoring opponents 322-136 in four games over a three-day period.
In the championship game, Marquez nailed seven 3-pointers in the game including four in the first quarter en route to a game-high 23 points.
“I knew all my shots were in tempo and I was open so I just took them,” said Marquez, one of five seniors who have signed to play Division I college basketball. “That’s a really good team, they [Carondelet] play fast too but it’s crazy to see how we can make people play fast as well.”
Oh yeah, and talk about marksmanship, the state’s No. 3 ranked team by Cal-Hi Sports set a school record with 17 3-pointers in their opening 92-19 win over Centennial and bested it with 18 in the Carondelet game.
“I would not have anticipated that,” said Clovis West coach Craig Campbell about barrage of three pointers. “The game was so competitive and we have so much respect for Carondelet, even when the game was at 20 points it felt like a four-point game. They are a traditional Open Division team and state contender. That’s a really good win for us.”
Despite Carondelet boasting a roster four players six-feet or taller, Clovis West was able to control the game from tip-off, racing to a 36-11 halftime lead.
“We knew it was going to be won in our backcourt or their frontcourt,” Campbell said. “We had to pressure them and wear them down because they’re so big and so good around the rim.
“I wasn’t sure [how we’d do] because they’ve been dynamite all weekend. I told the team this game would be a validation for us. I told the kids this game was about mental toughness, we’ll see how tough we are. It showed a lot of character.”
Along with Marquez, who Campbell says “always plays better in big moments,” fellow seniors Bre’yanna Sanders and Sarah Bates were named to the all-tournament team. And joining the three-parade were seniors Tess Amundsen (4), Megan Anderson (2), Liz Parker (1), Bates (1), and sophomores Champney Pulliam (2) and Maddie Campbell (1).
Clovis West traveled to Hawaii on Dec. 5 to play in the ‘Iolani Classic, an eight-team tournament that features the top two teams in the state of California – No. 1 Archbishop Mitty of San Jose and No. 2 Long Beach Poly, the team who ended the Golden Eagles’ season last year in the second round of the SoCal Open Division playoffs.