Thursday, June 23, 2016
West Campus High's remarkable season
But first, why the dearth of positive publicity? Yes, other programs have been more consistently successful up in the valley so maybe that's the reason but it's a feeble excuse because West Campus made news in 2015-16. Big news.
Prior to the start of the season, there was no one predicting a 29-6 Warrior finish, probably not a 10-2 Golden Empire League record nor concluding just one game short of playing for the California state championship.
Here's Wilson on his crew: "the pre-season was rough and going into league it was more about us learning to play the right way. It was a tug of war, playing against each other. We were winning but weren't good enough to win the state championship. The turning point was the game against Marysville (a February 8 61-60 road victory). We showed the necessary toughness and won at the buzzer. It was playing for each other rather than playing for a scholarship."
Here are the prominent elements of the West Campus hoops schedule: yes, the Warriors lost twice in league play to Golden Empire champion Capital Christian but that included coming up short 78-77 in double overtime. They also fell to Central Catholic of Modesto by one, 47-46, in the section D-IV title game. The final game was a 58-56 loss to Palma when the Chieftains went on a 14-0 rally in the last four minutes to take the victory and earn the right to face off with Harvard-Westlake out of southern California. Obviously, each of those pairings were winnable.
Also consider in their last six contests, the Warriors bopped Liberty Ranch 88-69, fell to Central Catholic when a last second shot didn't hit the mark and handled Corning High 59-36. Then it was edging St. Patrick-St. Vincent 52-51, topping Half Moon Bay 47-39, followed by the season-ending loss to Palma.
The proverbial Four Horsemen for Wilson were 6-foot-6 Isaiah Bates who averaged 11.2 points, 8.0 rebounds plus 3.0 blocks, 6-foot-5 Jeryn Lucas at 13.9 points, 6-foot-4 Monty Khela who produced 13.8 points as well as 4.1 rebounds and 5-foot-10 Darian Davis with 11.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. Wilson called Davis "our bulldog and the heart and soul of our team."
Of the quintet, Bates was set to take his over-the-top athletic ability to state champion City College of San Francisco but a recent injury has sidelined him for the time being. A large contingent of national JCs pursued him until his commitment. Lucas is moving on to play at Humboldt State and Khela signed with Colorado School of Mines. The latter also sports a 4.1 grade point average. Davis will be going the community college route and signing late.
2018 prospect Nate Karren is also deserving of a detailing here. Now standing 6-foot-9, his inside-outside game is intriguing with Stanford and Northern Arizona actively recruiting him.
Wilson stressed, "we're an academically focused program andbecause of that, a lot of our guys not only get athletic but also academic scholarships. We have connections to so many college coaches."
Best of all, the West Campus success ultimately became a full-fledged team effort which made this season all the more satisfying. In Wilson's West Campus tenure, his teams have posted 9-17, 16-13, 13-14, 19-11 and 29-6 records. What will 2016-17 bring?