LONG BEACH, CA - One season after capturing a Division 1 state championship, Windward is heading back to Sacramento. The Wildcats beat Clovis West by a final score of 61-50, behind an inspiring performance from junior Charisma Osborne.
Leading 37-29 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter, Sela Kay hit a three. One play after, Osborne drove to the rim and drew a foul, but was injured on the play. Two coaches helped her off the floor, and India Otto replaced for the Wildcats. Otto hit both free throws in place of Osborne. Kaiyah Corona stole the ball from Clovis West on the next play, which led to a huge Kamil English made three. Windward found themselves up 45-31 after three, eight minutes away from a trip to Sacramento.
In between quarters, the crowd raved as Osborne ran to the scores table and checked back in. She made an immediate impact, despite being doubled by the Clovis West defense. The Wildcats continued to tear Clovis West’s full court pressure defense a part, advancing the ball to the middle of the floor and then dishing at the rim for easy layups.
“I really wanted this win, and just told myself all I need is eight more minutes,” Osborne said. “I focused on defense and pressured the ball as best I could.”
Both teams got off to rather sloppy starts, trading turnovers and missed layups throughout the early part of the first quarter. Windward was able to take advantage of some lazy Clovis West passing and score in transition to grab a 18-14 lead after one. Kamil English came away with two steals, and Osborne scored 10 in the period. Clovis West forced three turnovers and was led by Justyce Harris with five quick points.
The Eagles found their stride in the second quarter, behind aggressive play from Madison Campbell. Windward was called for two offensive fouls throughout the quarter, the final one sending Makayla Warren to the line in the bonus. Warren missed the first to end the half, but Clovis West pulled to within one trailing 27-26. Campbell posted nine first-half points, working a strong connection with teammate Aari’yanna Sanders. The two converted on multiple drive and dishes for the Golden Eagles, which put Osborne and Windward on the spot to make some big plays. Osborne went one-of-three in the quarter, but grabbed six rebounds for the half.
Osborne led all scorers with 22 points, going 3-for-4 from the free-throw line. Windward also got major contributions from English (12 points) and Kay (10 points). Campbell scored 18 points to lead Clovis West, and Sanders posted 15.
Clovis West entered the game 32-3, good for sixth in the state of California. The Golden Eagles advanced to Sacramento last season, but fell short this time around to the Southern Section champions.
“This has been a remarkable year, to lose five players to Division 1 and get written off all year but go 10-0 in league,” Campbell said. “We have a 60-game win streak in our league and won our sixth straight section.”
Windward improves to a staggering 26-3 overall, and will look to complete a Southern Section and state title season at the Golden 1 Center on March 24. The Wildcats will take on Pinewood for a chance at the crown, 27-2 overall and ranked as the second best team in California.