REDLANDS -- It must have seemed easy that San Gorgonio High swept all four games at the Redlands High School-hosted Tip-Off Tournament last week.
Wins over Fontana, Loma Linda Academy, Redlands Arrowhead Christian and, finally, a 33-11 finale over a smallish Bloomington High team has already outdistanced last year’s 1-24 Lady Spartans’ hoop squad.
Host Redlands High coach Robert Stangel apparently sought out San G Athletic Director Matt Maeda, saying “the vibe from (San G) is much different than last year’s team.”
Travis Clark was hired about five weeks ago, replacing a late scratch, Kendra Calvin, who had coached the previous three seasons.
Clark said, “I wasn’t around this team at all last year, so I don’t know what that vibe was. I just know we have some personalities on this team and they’re all good.”
“They get in the gymnasium and work their butts off.”
Eight of San G’s nine players scored against Bloomington, topped by Leslie Tristan and Laylah Lyons, each netting eight.
Proving you don’t have to score to, well, score, America Ramirez kept finding herself around loose balls (five picked up), rebounds (10) and steals (five).
“That’s one of the things we talked about after the game,” said Clark. “America was everywhere. I lost count at about 10 rebounds.”
Against Bloomington, she came up with a steal, fed Tristan, whose pass to Lyons lifted the Lady Spartans to a 17-4 lead.
Clark played his entire roster, slotting Bay-Lee Sialoi and sophomore Monae Perkins at point guard. Leilani Bowen is one of a handful of Lady Spartans crashing the boards.
Don’t get the impression that San G’s on its way to a league championship.
There was no summer league play, since Clark was hired virtually last minute. His roster of players don’t fall off the rosters of any travel ball teams, either. In other words, it’s a typical high school team.
“We know Arroyo Valley’s out there,” said Clark. “I know (coach Michael Anderson) has recruited and has a lot of travel ball players.”
The Hawks have a stranglehold on the San Andreas League championship.
Clark is the son of longtime San Bernardino Schools coach Ed Clark -- seven years at Pacific, then another dozen, or so, at San G -- who was sitting in the stands at Redlands.
“Travis grew up in Yucaipa,” said Ed Clark, nearing 60, who’s teaching at Golden Valley Middle School before retiring. “He was a distance runner and he played basketball.”
San G’s win over Arrowhead Christian, 37-13, was against a 3-1 Lady Eagles’ team that had beaten Redlands, Fontana Miller, plus a 53-43 win over the same Bloomington squad that the Lady Spartans held to 11.
“Even when our offense is down,” said Clark, “I think we can always count on our defense. No one on our team is super tall, but it will be difficult for teams to score on us.”
Game No. 5 was this week against Indian Springs.