Clovis West trio makes Central Section history

Clovis West seniors Champney Pulliam, Aari Sanders and Maddie Campbell won their 120th basketball game of their career against Buchanan on Jan. 30, a new Central Section for wins in a class. CONTRIBUTED

They’ve played together since the fourth grade, almost inseparable off the court and beautifully fluid on it, a trio of Clovis West basketball stars whose hearts beat as one.

They are the All-State, do-everything guard Madison Campbell, the sharpshooter Champney Pulliam, and the stalwart down low Aari’yanna Sanders, better known as Maddie, Champ and Aari.

Those names are synonymous with winning, and now they can call themselves the winningest basketball players in Central Section history.

With the Golden Eagles 67-43 home win over Buchanan on Jan. 30, according Section historian Bob Barnett, the trio moved past the Hanford class of 2001 with their 120th win in four years of varsity basketball, a remarkable feat against only 12 losses.

Think about that for a second; they’ve suited up for 132 basketball games and won 120 of them.

“If you win 20 games in a season, you are considered to have had a successful season,” Clovis West coach Craig Campbell, Maddie’s father, said. “If you are ever fortunate enough to have a 30 win season, you had an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime season. The fact these three have averaged over 30 wins a year for four years is incomprehensible.”

Clovis West has never played a soft schedule by any means, traveling to play the best up and down the state and in national level tournaments. Tournaments include: the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona three years in 2016-18; the Nike Iolani Classic in Hawaii in 2016 and 2018; and the Florida Prospects Holiday Classic this last December.  

They’ve played against and defeated multiple McDonald’s All-Americans.

In addition there are three D-I Valley titles, three undefeated TRAC titles, a CIF Open Division state title in 2017 and a No. 1 national ranking. And, of course, the possibility of more this season.

The girls’ favorite on-court memory is winning the CIF State Open Division title in 2017 over Archbishop Mitty 44-40 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

The team is currently 25-2, ranked No. 3 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 10 in the nation by MaxPreps.  

So, yeah, you get the picture.

“Out of my 14 years of being at Clovis West, those three have embraced and understood our program’s principles at the highest level,” Craig Campbell said. “The chemistry between the three has allowed them to beat many far more talented teams.”

Certainly these eye-popping numbers and championships and records are worthy to be praised; however, the three certainly understand what matters most.

“The most special part about playing with Aari and Champ are the strong friendships we’ve been able to make,” Maddie Campbell said, the school’s all-time leading scorer and 3-point shooter averaging over 20 points per game this season. “We’re so close and practically inseparable; we’ve laughed, cried, won, and lost together. It’s super special to go through this with them because it just solidifies how rich our culture is and how loyal our program is.”

The feeling is mutual for Pulliam.

“They are both two people I know that we will keep in touch throughout our lives even after we leave,” Pulliam said. “They are two of the most competitive people I’ve ever played with and I love that. I know on and off the court no matter what they will always have my back and I think that’s something that’s helped add to our success.”

Sanders, the team’s stellar post player who has an affinity for taking fearless charges, agrees without hesitation.

“I think the most special part about playing with them and winning together would just be the friendship we have,” Sanders says. “I can honestly say we all grew so much together as both players and people.”

After graduation, the three will go their separate ways, but will continue to play the game they love; Campbell to USC, Pulliam to the University of Idaho, and Sanders to the Academy of Art.

“You see all the people who’ve played before you and you are so proud to be able to continue the legacy they’ve left and you hope to leave your own someday,” Maddie says. “We try to hard to maintain the Clovis West culture, so it’s important to never take it for granted when you’re able to suit up every game.”

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.