Clovis West head coach Craig Campbell scheduled perennial girls basketball power St. Mary’s of Stockton eight times between 2007 and 2016.
The Golden Eagles went 1-7 in those games, losing by an average margin of 27 points.
But that one win? A 2008 meeting at home against a St. Mary’s team ranked No.1 in the state and led by point guard Alle Moreno.
In Moreno’s return to Clovis West as the St. Mary’s head coach, and with the Rams ranked as the No. 3 team in California by Cal-Hi Sports, No. 12 state-ranked Clovis West pulled off the upset win Monday, 69-54.
“I just didn’t know if we were quite ready for this caliber of game yet,” Campbell said. “It’s such a condensed season. Normally, we’ve played 19 games [and] in practice for 12 weeks by this point in the year.”
“I kind of joked with some people today, saying it was either going to be a great momentum builder or a great wake-up call.”
It was the former. Clovis West built momentum from its opening possession when sophomore Etoyah Montgomery knocked down an open 3-pointer in the corner. They led for most of the first quarter until sophomore St. Mary’s guard Nia Anderson cut inside for a layup right before the buzzer sounded, giving the Rams a 17-16 lead.
The Rams led by five, 21-16, before Clovis West launched a 15-4 scoring run to take control of the game.
After a layup gave St. Mary’s a 25-24 lead midway through the second quarter, junior Kennedy Vincent grabbed an offensive rebound and scored the putback.
Clovis West never trailed again.
“To be able to show that composure and not let the wheels fall off [down five points]… it was a great team win,” Campbell said. “One through nine, the kids who went in did a great job.”
Team defense was the difference-maker for Clovis West down the stretch. They limited the Rams, who started four future Division-I women’s basketball players, by pressuring the ball-handler, forcing tough shots and keeping the Rams from offensive rebounds.
“[St. Mary’s] is a great rebounding team,” Campbell said. “We knew if we didn’t secure the boards, we were going to lose. It was good to see our kids hold them to one-and-done on a lot of those possessions.”
Clovis West took a 39-31 lead into halftime before holding St. Mary’s to 3-for-11 shooting and three turnovers in the third quarter. The defensive performance helped the Golden Eagles extend their lead, 53-42, entering the fourth quarter.
“We talked on defense, talked screens, and got up on their shooters,” said senior Nikki Tom. “Everyone who played and was on the bench had energy. We came out of warm-ups really hard and it paid off today.”
Tom finished the game with 17 points, while Montgomery scored eight of her team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to guide Clovis West to a statement win on Monday.
“We felt all along that we were one of the top six to eight teams in the state,” Campbell said. “To have us at No. 12, we didn’t think that was necessarily accurate, but we had to prove it on the court.”
Clovis West (8-0) will continue TRAC play at home Wednesday against Clovis East.