Calaveras Enterprise Sports Editor Guy Dossi spoke with Calaveras High School’s head basketball coach Kraig Clifton before practice on Monday, March 5. Their conversation included practicing in March, not playing a final four game at a neutral site and how strong the Mother Lode League was this season.
GD: Well, Craig, I guess you can never complain about practicing in March. When basketball is being played in March, big things are on the line.
KC: Absolutely. We say all the time that we realize how fortunate we are to still be playing basketball, when most teams aren’t this time of year.
GD: You’ve seen just about everything this year. From blowout wins and losses, to close wins and losses, your team had been in every kind of game. That being said, where do you see your team at this point of the year?
KC: We’ve been playing better as of late. The season has been a roller coaster. Hopefully we are on a peak and not in a valley.
GD: You guys lost to Placer in the semifinal game 66-56 in Auburn. This was the first year that the final four was not played at a neutral site in a very long time. Why is that?
KC: I don’t know for a fact, but what I’ve been told by other coaches is that it’s a financial decision.
GD: Would you have rather played at a neutral site?
KC: When you get to the final four, you deserve a neutral site. It would have changed things by taking them a long way away from their home. Also, it would have been nice to get off that small court. At Tokay, it’s a bigger court. But, they beat us fair and square. You have to learn from it and move on.
GD: Wednesday night will be the third time you’ve coached Calaveras in a state playoff game. When the division IV brackets were released, your team got the No. 7 seed and will face No. 10 Woodside Priory. Were you surprised to see that you not only got the No. 7 seed, but would get a home game?
KC: I was surprised. If you really look at it, seven out of the 16 teams came from our section. I think that says a lot about our section. We have the largest section in Northern California, which is part of it. But our two wins against Ripon and Liberty Ranch spoke volumes about our section and about us in general.
GD: Summerville, Sonora, Calaveras and Argonaut are all playing in the state playoffs. That really says something about the Mother Lode League.
KC: This league was no joke this year, that’s for sure. And we typically aren’t. It doesn’t always show out in the playoffs like it did this year, but the kids in the foothills know how to play basketball.