Clovis West girls off to blistering start, now off to Hawaii

Senior Aari Sanders scores a layup against Bakersfield in Clovis West’s 75-30 win on Nov. 29. The Golden Eagles are 9-0 to start the season and will play in the Nike Iolani Class in Hawaii and the Florida Prospects Holiday Classic in Orlando, Florida at the end of December. CONTRIBUTED BY CHAD COTTON

As advertised, the girls basketball programs from Clovis Unified are winning games and tournaments up and down the state, with a combined record of 34-6 from the five schools.

Check them out: Clovis West (9-0), Clovis (9-0), Clovis North (6-1), Buchanan (6-2) and Clovis East (4-3).

And at the top is Clovis West, ranked No. 4 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, winner of four games in three days at its own Nike Central Valley Showdown (Nov. 30-Dec. 1), followed by a pair of wins at the Bay Area Elite Showcase.

So far this season, they are outscoring opponents by an average score of 77-32 with their customary pressing defense, an array of shooters and fundamental team basketball.

The Golden Eagles, however, now enter the heavy part of their schedule, making long distance flights to Hawaii to the Nike Iolani Classic in Honolulu (Dec. 13-15) then off to sunny Orlando, Florida for the Florida Prospects Holiday Classic (Dec. 27-29).

“We have some great competition coming up,” Clovis West coach Craig Campbell said. “Florida is loaded and the next six games are going to be a battle.”

Three mainland teams are invited to the eight-team Nike Iolani Classic and only Nike-sponsored schools are invited.

The program last played in Hawaii in 2016 when they lost 76-75 in overtime to Archbishop Mitty in the championship game. Clovis West would avenge that defeat three months later in the CIF Open Division title game with a 44-40 win, securing the school’s first state title and a No. 1 national ranking.

Through the first eight games of the 2018-19 season the Golden Eagles won by an average of 40 points, but they had to work for a 38-37 win over McClatchy of Sacramento at the Bay Area Elite Showcase.

“We needed to toughen up and adjust on the fly,” Campbell said about the McClatchy game. “It’s nice to get the win but you learn how to get out of tough situations. Now we get to grow some more.”

The Golden Eagles are led by trio of seniors in returning all-state guard and USC signee Madison Campbell, Idaho signee Chamney Pulliam and Aari Sanders, who will play at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

They also feature point guard Nikki Tom, who made Cal-Hi Sports’ First Team All-Freshman squad last year.

“We’re deeper than last year and we need some kids to take the next step,” said Campbell, who has won six straight Central Section Division I titles and 12 straight TRAC championships. “If we get all 14 kids to come together, we can jump from good to great.”

Maddie Campbell, the coach’s daughter, broke the school record for career 3-pointers in the Nike Central Valley Showdown, and currently has 245. She’s also on pace to become the school’s all-time leader scorer this season.

Paul Meadors
Paul Meadors is a man of many talents. He is a elementary school teacher, Junior High athletic director, and basketball coach in Traver, CA, in addition to serving as the Sports Editor for the Clovis Roundup. He is also the author of the humorous book “Letters to eBay,” and he has recorded a piano album of his own compositions titled “Surviving the Storm.” He lives in Fresno with wife Lori and daughters Georgie, Alex and Ruthie.