Photo by Nick Baker – The Clovis West (29-3) girls throttled Edison 69-38 in the D-1 Central Section championship game held at Selland Arena on March 5. It was the Golden Eagles fourth consecutive title and the school’s seventh in the last ten years.
By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
In a season in which so much has gone right, Clovis West took their game to another level in an arena they’ve made a second home.
From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the vaunted Golden Eagle pressure was as relentlessness and overwhelming as advertised, crushing Edison 69-38 for their fourth straight D-1 Central Section championship at Selland Arena in front of an estimated crowd of 6,000.
And for the school that has won seven of the last 10 Valley championships, nothing is taken for granted and everything is earned.
“Each is their own special journey,” said head coach Craig Campbell. “Whatever we did tonight we were doing together and if we fall apart then we would still love each other more than the other locker room. We had to stick together.”
And stick together they did.
In fact, they’ve been sticking together for a while now.
With a core of four returning junior starters in Megan Anderson, Sarah Bates, Danae Marquez and Bre’yanna Sanders and one senior Ashley Cross, Clovis West (29-3) raced out to a 14-0 lead and allowed their first points with 37 seconds left in the first quarter. The Tigers (28-4) would never recover as they were forced into an astounding 36 turnovers for the game.
Edison coach Bill Engel could only shake his head after the game.
“They are a machine,” Engel said about the state’s No. 10 ranked team. “They just know where to go. All credit goes to Clovis West. They’re a fantastic team.”
Point guard Danae Marquez, in a foretelling of things to come, nailed a three-pointer on the team’s first shot attempt of the game. She and her teammates would go on to hit 10 of 17 for the game.
Bates hit 3 three-pointers of her own and led the team with 17 points, freshman Madison Campbell (daughter of coach Campbell) scored 13 and Anderson 12. Sanders filled the stat sheet with 11 points, five rebounds, seven steals and four blocks.
But oh that defense; that trapping, never-relenting, in-your-face-where-ever-you-turn pressure that turns into nightmares.
“We knew our pressure and rebounding would be the key,” Campbell said. “We sped them up, got them frazzled and created a lot of turnovers.”
That defense negated the tallest player on the court, Edison’s 6’3” Rodjanae Wade, a UNLV recruit that was held to only five points on four shot attempts.
Not lost in this remarkable game is the belief that senior Aysha Kirkland is the first Division 1 basketball player to be a part of four Valley titles. From freshman to senior, she knows nothing but championships.
Bates, in a show of love and respect, admitted that the team played hard for Kirkland to garner that honor.
And get used to seeing the Golden Eagles shine at Selland for the foreseeable future – including those four junior starters and the three freshman on the roster.
In fact, two freshman made themselves known in the first quarter as Aari’yanna Sanders, younger sister to Bre’yanna took an offensive charge right after fellow frosh Campbell swished a three-pointer.
With this in mind, nothing beats the thrill of celebrating a victory with your teammates after all the blood, sweat and tears of a season says Marquez.
“The moment when the buzzer sounds is an indescribable feeling because all your hard work is rewarded,” said Marquez. “I’m just grateful for everything.”
The Clovis West girls received a No. 2 seeding in the Southern Section Open Division for state playoffs and will be playing No. 7 Sierra Canyon (23-7) at home on Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m.