He’s Cash Williams, Central High’s money man in basketball and the most appropriately named athlete in the Central Section.
OK, OK, the birth certificate says “Cashemin.”
But, on the street, on campus and in the gym, it’s “Cash,” and, oh, what a deposit he made Friday night at Clovis West.
Try 30 points, including nine in a Grizzlies’ game-closing 15-7 run and a 66-64 win over the section’s top-ranked and state No. 20 Golden Eagles to break a first-place tie in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.
This came two weeks after Clovis West won 88-76 at Central in the league’s first round as Eagles senior point guard Adrian Antunez scored 27 points to counter Williams’ 28.
Friday, in another rousing duel of The Bee’s Player of the Year front-runners, Antunez had 16 points in a determined finish that saw him collapse to the floor twice with leg pain and leave the game, only to return both times.
Worse, for Clovis West (22-3, 5-2), Adrian Martinez – a critical component of the team as a powerful off guard who can defend and rebound – left for good midway into the third quarter with a sprained left foot and the score tied.
The Bee’s Player of the Year in football originally injured the foot in Wednesday’s 82-75 overtime win over Clovis North on the same floor: “I tried to push through it tonight (against Central) and I tweaked it again. I am definitely taking a day-to-day approach, but I will likely miss at least one game.”
That would be at sixth-ranked Buchanan on Wednesday.
Martinez’s absence along with Antunez being hobbled presented dreadful problems in defending Williams, who has made a career of scoring virtually all of his points off drives and free throws.
They beat us at home so we had to come back and beat them in their house to make it one and one.
Central’s Cash Williams after scoring 30 points at top-ranked Clovis West
“They beat us at home so we had to come back and beat them in their house to make it one and one,” said Williams, a sliver of a 6-foot-2 junior point guard, deceptively strong for his physique, left-handed and no secret among section elite.
It was Williams who made 4 of 5 field goals and 9 of 10 free throws for 17 points, and delivered an additional four rebounds, two assists and two steals in Central’s 77-64 rout of Clovis North last March at Selland Arena for the section Division I title.
That was the Grizzlies’ first top-division boys basketball championship in school history and, with Friday’s win, they’ve maneuvered into position for a high seed and march to another under second-year coach Greg Streets, the former Edison standout player.
Kobe Foster, a 6-5 senior forward, had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Central (14-6, 6-1), whose win was applauded 120 miles to the south by the Bakersfield Drillers.
Had the section D-I seeding been determined before Friday, it would have likely been Clovis West, Bakersfield and Central 1-2-3.
Today, it would probably be Bakersfield, Central and Clovis West 1-2-3, and here’s why: Bakersfield, turning the Southwest Yosemite League into a runaway, has beaten Central, but lost to Clovis West.
If Bakersfield and Central win league titles, section Commissioner Jim Crichlow and his seeding committee on Feb. 17 likely will give top billing to the Drillers because of their 79-77 win over the Grizzlies at the Clovis West Nike Shootout on Dec. 16. That occurred a day after the Eagles had escaped 98-91 against Bakersfield in overtime on the same court.
An added storyline to this is Bakersfield is seeking to become the first Kern County D-I boys team to make a section final since the two-day, 10-game boys and girls championships were moved there permanently in 2005.
CMAC now two-way tie – Deon Stroud scored 18 points, including 6 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter, as No. 11 Memorial won 55-50 at No. 13 Sanger to loosen the logjam atop the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
Memorial, Sanger and Edison had entered the night tied for first with 4-2 records. But now it’s Memorial and Edison, which defeated Madera South 69-55. There are three regular season games remaining.
Arron Mosby, who signed with Fresno State as a defensive back two days earlier, scored 18 points for Sanger, which made only 2 of 13 shots (15 percent) while plunging into a 16-5 first-quarter hole. But the Apaches trailed only 44-43 entering the fourth.
Central 66, Clovis West 64
C (14-6, 6-1 Tri-River Athletic Conference): Cash Williams 30, Cam’Ron Wilson 9, Jahmai Bartley 5, Eddie McFall 6, Montrel Garner 6, Kobe Foster 10.
CW (22-3, 5-2): Adrian Antunez 16, Dante Chachere 10, Nick Coleman 1, Izaiah Cazares 2, Travis Turney 3, Fernando Guardado 1, Walter Graves 16, Cody Freeman 5, Eseosa Ogbeide 8, Adrian Martinez 2.