The annual Selland Special in Central Section basketball awaits in four weeks, but the Tri-River Athletic Conference boys are playing at a championship level now.
Clovis West’s pulsating 82-75 overtime win over Clovis North on Wednesday night in the Golden Eagles’ nest was nothing less than that.
“Crazy, it came down to the wire,” said Clovis West four-year point guard Adrian Antunez, who scored four of his 26 points in overtime for a 22-2 team ranked No. 1 in the section by The Bee and No. 20 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports. “I never thought it would be that close, but things happen.”
It was close because of 5-foot-6 point guard Domenic Reyes, who nearly willed the section’s No. 7 Broncos (14-9) to victory on a night when teammate Ben Avera, averaging 19 points and seven rebounds, remained in sweats because of an aggravated hamstring. The 6-foot-5 Azusa Pacific-bound wing is out indefinitely.
Reyes delivered 26 points and six steals. And 11 of his baskets came on a combination of drives and layups with 6-7 Eagles post Walter Graves never far away.
All respect to him – he really showed us up.
Clovis West’s Adrian Antunez on Clovis North’s Domenic Reyes
“He’s crafty, a good player, and I think he’ll do good things at the next level,” Antunez said of Reyes. “All respect to him – he really showed us up.”
Clovis West escaped after failing to secure a 12-point lead in the first half and a five-point advantage in the final two minutes as Clovis North also received 16 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks from Elijah Straughter and four 3s from Taj Gill, including one off a Reyes assist with 16.7 seconds remaining to force overtime.
And to think the Broncos of coach Tony Amundsen missed by inches of winning it in regulation when Chad Fugman’s 80-foot shot was spot on but just short.
Clovis North, decidedly outsized in Avera’s absence, was crushed 39-22 in rebounds as Graves had 15 in addition to 24 points, including seven in overtime.
Graves closed the scoring with a layup and free throw in the final seconds after running a deep streak and taking a 70-foot pass from Bee Football Player of the Year Adrian Martinez.
It was Martinez, in as big a play as any in the game, who blocked a Straughter shot, leading to two Antunez free throws for a 79-75 Clovis West lead with 12 seconds remaining.
Now, somehow, the Vance Walberg-coached Eagles will attempt to take flight again in only 46 hours following Wednesday’s game when they’ll remain home to play No. 4 Central (13-6) for first place at 7 p.m.
5-1 Clovis West and Central records atop the Tri-River Athletic Conference entering Friday night’s game at Clovis West
They are each 5-1 with three regular-season games left after Friday.
Boys and girls basketball seedings in five divisions will be determined Feb. 17. Playoffs will begin the following week, closing with the 10-game section finals at Selland Arena on March 3-4.
It was there last March 5 that then-sophomores Cam’Ron Wilson and Cash Williams combined for 42 points to power Central to its first top-division boys basketball title in school history with a 77-64 win over Clovis North.
They’re back, but Jaylon Johnson isn’t.
Johnson, then a junior point guard, facilitated the tempo in that conquest of Clovis North before 6,000 fans. But he has long known he wouldn’t play basketball as a senior while concentrating on football. The nationally ranked defensive back signed with Utah on Wednesday, a day after Central defeated No. 6 Buchanan 72-60 in basketball.
So the Grizzlies will have two days to prepare for Friday’s game as opposed to one for Clovis West, which won 83-73 at Central in the TRAC’s first round two weeks ago.
Wacky CMAC – There’s a logjam atop the County/Metro Athletic Conference boys race, and Wednesday night results help explain why: Bullard won 73-72 at Madera South, No. 13 Sanger escaped 52-51 at Madera and No. 11 Memorial defeated No. 10 Edison 68-64.
Edison, Sanger and Memorial are tied for the lead at 4-2 with Madera South and Bullard each 3-3 and Madera 0-6.
Friday games at 6:30 p.m. will send Madera to Bullard, Memorial to Sanger and Madera South to Edison.
Sanger, following its section- and league-championship football season, would stand alone atop the CMAC if not for a miraculous Bullard final-second play on the Apaches’ court last week. The Knights’ Hunter Shaw received a deep pass from Uriah Carter, dribbled once while splitting two defenders and launched a lunging 3-point attempt from the left wing that struck the front of the rim, bounced high and then down through the hoop for a 77-76 win.