When the shots weren’t falling in the first half, Clovis West’s Golden Eagles looked to their teeming defense to get the job done and secure another all-time TRAC women’s basketball title.
The 17th straight league title for head coach Craig Campbell’s team, to be exact.
A rise in third-quarter scoring separated the Golden Eagles from host Buchanan Bears, helping the nine-time defending Central Section champions wrap up a 68-41 win on Tuesday.
Clovis West extended his winning streak to 11 games and improved his record to 24-3 and 8-0 in Tri-River Athletic Conference games. The Golden Eagles also won their 33rd consecutive game against a TRAC opponent, including the playoffs.
Obviously, Clovis West has a lot of streak going on. Campbell said starting a streak isn’t the hardest part; maintaining it, wave after wave of new faces, is.
“With 17 different senior classes, trying to get buy-in and commitment is a lot of work,” Campbell said. “The last time Clovis West didn’t win a Valley Championship, our seniors were seven or eight years old. When you put this into perspective, you wonder: are they still hungry? Or do they take it for granted? »
Clovis West started slow offensively, and Buchanan (16-11, 6-3 TRAC), fresh off a double-overtime road win at Central, made it a game in the first half.
The Bears took a narrow 23-21 lead with less than four minutes until halftime.
“[Buchanan] came out and punched us in the mouth,” Campbell said. “It took us a second to realize and settle in. We were impatient. We have so many kids in new roles, and we’ve been trying to mature them all year.
Junior Etoyah Montgomery, who led Clovis West with 20 points, said this season was one of his favorite TRAC Championship races because of how young the team is. Outside of Montgomery, the Golden Eagles have run with four new starters all season.
“It’s actually very impressive,” Montgomery said. “I feel like people underestimate us because yeah, we’re young. So they think they can just get out, but we’re young with a lot of talent and we’re playing hard.
Sophomore guard Ariyah Smith, one of Clovis West’s young starters, erased the Bears’ lead when she knocked down an open 3-pointer. Montgomery was there with the assist.
The Golden Eagles never hung around again. They closed the first half on a 7-0 run for a 28-23 halftime lead and edged Buchanan 40-18 in the second half.
The attack turned the situation around with the help of a miserly defence.
“Our front line and our pressure and everything — I think our defense triggered it,” Montgomery said. “Then we just started hitting on beauty, good lay-ups and ones, and getting each other excited.”
With a victory over Clovis High in the regular season finale, Clovis West can finish undefeated in the league for the 14th time in 17 seasons.