Clovis West downs Clovis North in battle of state ranked teams
The Golden Eagles led after every quarter as Nikki Tom scores 22 points in statement game over the Broncos, holding Savannah Tucker to 17 points below her season average.
Clovis West junior Nikki Tom scored 22 points in 71-59 win over Clovis North as the Golden Eagles move to 15-4 on the year. (PHOTO BY AN EYE FOR IT ALL PHOTOGRAPHY)
Two state powers, one big statement.
Clovis West, ranked No. 15 in the state marched into No. 11 Clovis North’s gym in their league opener and certainly let everyone know – they are still the team to beat in the Central Section.
Behind their signature hard-nosed defense and offensive execution, the Golden Eagles took down the Broncos 71-59 behind guard Nikki Tom’s 22 points, never trailing after Kendall Jackson’s 3-pointer broke a 13-13 tie in the first quarter.
Clovis West improves to 15-4 while Clovis North falls to 13-5.
And while Tom isn’t the most vocal, the calm and collected junior sure plays a mean game of basketball.
Tom, with two years of intense varsity experience under her belt, also collected four steals and was a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line including 8-8 in the fourth quarter.
“She has the experience and that ‘it’ factor,” Clovis West coach Craig Campbell said. “I really got on her and challenged her because she really didn’t play well for most of the third and early fourth but then she stepped up.”
Tom was an integral part of Clovis West’s last two Central Section championships, both over Clovis North.
“It means a lot to me that my coaches and teammates have so much confidence in me that I’ll get the job done,” Tom said. “I’m just one person and it takes all of us to succeed.”
Aaliyah Seuell scored 12 for Clovis West, including the Golden Eagles first six points on two 3-pointers that led to an 18-15 first quarter lead.
Clovis West led 38-32 at half when Tom recorded 10 of her points.
The Golden Eagles were tasked with slowing down Clovis North senior guard Savannah Tucker, a four-year starter that came in averaging 28 points per game, one of the top marks in the state. In addition, four-year starter Rowan Hein presents problems on the floor for her opponents.
However, Clovis West held Tucker to 11 points by keeping the ball out of her hands through a variety of defensive looks. Hein was held to seven but contributed nine rebounds.
Campbell praised the defensive play of Silva, calling her “tough as nails” as she blanketed Tucker in the second half when she scored only one basket.
However, Clovis North cut the Clovis West lead to 55-50 with 3:50 left in the game on Tucker’s second half basket. But a 3-pointer by Seuell, a layup by Silva and a rebound and layup by Justyce Harris pushed the lead to 62-50 with 1:09 remaining.
Clovis West’s 6-foot-1 freshman Etoyah Montgomery scored 10 points including two 3-pointers and Clovis North’s 6-foot junior Laney Amundsen led the Broncos with 16 points.
For both teams, it was nice to get back to the Valley for games – the two teams have combined to play only eight home games this year.
“You figured it was going to be a lot of emotions a lot of ragged mistakes,” Campbell said. “We were just hoping to just solidify and buckle down more. To win this one by 12 on the road in this environment … this is a good growth game for us.”
Clovis North plays Clovis East at home next Tuesday then at Clovis on Friday while Clovis West travels to Central then takes on Clovis East at home.