Central High has never won a Central Section championship in Division I boys basketball, but how about this for momentum in the Grizzlies' mission to establish history:
Top-ranked in the section to begin with, they received 35 and 21 points from four-year varsity veterans Murshid Randle and Nate Amundsen to escape with an electrifying 91-86 overtime win over No. 3 Clovis East on Friday night before a near-capacity crowd in the Timberwolves' gym.
A virtual lock to land the D-I top seed Saturday in section Commissioner Jim Crichlow's office in Porterville, Central wrapped up the Tri-River Athletic Conference title with a 9-1 record while improving to 26-4 overall under second-year coach Tim Amundsen.
Nate Amundsen transferred with his father, who won three section D-I championships at Clovis East.
"It was fun playing against my old team," said the 6-foot-6 forward, who sealed the deal with four free throws in the final 9 seconds. "I played with those guys since fourth grade. It brought back a lot of memories."
It was the eighth league championship in the history of Central, which won section D-III titles in 1993 and 1996, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
But nary a D-I crown.
Senior point guard Dylan Eamigh closed a 36-point night with a 70-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer for Clovis East (22-8, 7-3), which likely will receive strong consideration for a top four D-I seed.
The seeding results for five divisions in boys and girls are expected to be released at 2 p.m.
Boys playoffs will begin Tuesday.
While Central and unbeaten County/Metro Athletic Conference champion Bullard — the three-year reigning D-I titlist — are set for the top two seeds, Clovis East will probably be in mix for the Nos. 3-4 seeds with Southwest Yosemite League co-champion Liberty-Bakersfield (19-7, 7-3), which beat the Timberwolves earlier in the season.
Central beat Bullard 70-66 at Fresno City College on Jan. 17.
Eamigh (pronounced Ay-mee) had a running 3-pointer bounce off the back of the rim as regulation closed with a 77-77 tie.
Then, in OT, Central — which whipped the Timberwolves 73-51 in the TRAC's first round Feb. 4 — took command and didn't let go on Randle's jumper, Gurinderjit Sindhu's 3-pointer after a steal by freshman Jaylon Johnson, and an Amundsen free throw for an 83-77 lead.
Isaac Acevedo's two free throws following an Elijah Cha steal cut the Grizzlies' lead to 86-83 with 1:31 to go.
Central put it away with Darius Hamilton and Amundsen at the line.
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