Clovis West girls prove they belong with nation’s elite

The Clovis West girls team (ranked No. 3 in state and No. 9 in nation) took second place in the ‘Iolani Classic tournament in Hawaii, losing to the nation’s No. 2 ranked Archbishop Mitty in the championship game 76-75 in overtime. Pictured are the representatives of the all-tournament team including Clovis West’s Sarah Bates, Tess Amundsen and Most Outstanding Player Bre’yanna Sanders. [Contributed Photo]

By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor

Clovis West came to Hawaii to make some waves on the court and bask in the wonders of the islands. And even though there was some fun in the sun, the Golden Eagles proved without a shadow of a doubt at the ‘Iolani Classic they are one of the top teams in not only the state of California but in the nation.

The eight-team invitational boasted the likes of Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Long Beach Poly and the best local high schools teams in Hawaii. Mitty, Poly and Clovis West were ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 in the state respectively by Cal-Hi Sports coming in and No. 2, 13 and 9 nationally by USA Today.

So, of course, a collision course was inevitable. And naturally, their last two games were thrillers against the best of the best.

After opening with a 67-58 win over local team Maryknoll, Clovis West beat Long Beach Poly 70-67 in overtime in the semifinals, surviving an improvable 25-foot three pointer at the end of regulation. Clovis West then went toe-to-toe against No. 2 nationally ranked Archbishop Mitty in another overtime game, this time losing 76-75. But in the process, validated their No. 9 national ranking.

“The preseason hype around this team is validated – we do belong and can compete with anyone,” said Clovis West coach Craig Campbell. “A lot of outsiders knocked us for being ranked so high, but to beat the No. 12 team in the country and lose to No. 2 by one in OT shows we belong in the mix and validates to our kids what level they are capable of competing at.”

Mitty, displaying the same type of pressure defense as Clovis West, led 69-67 under a minute left to play when sophomore Madison Campbell’s steal and layup tied the game with 16.3 seconds left. Fouled on the play, Campbell would miss the free throw and the Golden Eagles would commit a foul of their own, putting the Monarchs on the line. Their missed one-in-one attempt then led to overtime.

The four minute overtime period is when Mitty’s own sophomore, Haley Jones, scored all her team’s seven points. Clovis West could not get off a 3-point shot for the tie, as Danae Marquez’s 10-foot floater in the lane at the buzzer finalized the score at 76-75.

In the see-saw battle the Golden Eagles led 36-29 in the second quarter after eight straight points (two 3s and a layup) by Campbell. But, the Monarchs then went on to score 13 unanswered and led 42-36 at halftime.

Marquez and Megan Anderson hit back-to-back 3s, cutting the lead to 64-60 with 5:12 left in the game and briefly took the lead at 67-66 with a three pointer from Tess Amundsen.

“Our kids showed tremendous maturity and the will to not roll over but instead to battle back through adversity in both games.,” Campbell said about the back and forth games. “A lot of top 25 teams are perennial powers and private schools, so we are still learning how to consistently execute, lead and compete at that level.  This was a great learning experience for us that will hopefully pay off for us in February and March.”

Bre’yanna Sanders led all scorers with 17 in the game and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Sarah Bates and Amundsen were named all-tournament. Other top scorers in the game were Amundsen 16, Campbell 12 and Anderson with 11.

The game was broadcasted live on YouTube, with an approximate 2,000 devices tuned in.

Next for Clovis West is the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona from Dec. 18-22 featuring 84 total teams including Mitty, Poly and St. Mary’s of Stockton, all perennials powers.