The Tri-River Athletic Conference hasn’t delivered a boys champion in Central Section Division I basketball in six years, but Friday seedings say the streak should end March 5 at Selland Arena.
In the news of the day to come out of the Porterville office of section Commissioner Jim Crichlow, the TRAC boys landed the top three seeds with Clovis North (18-8), Central (19-6) and Clovis East (19-9). In addition, Clovis West, as expected, is No. 1 among the D-I girls.
The Clovis North and Central boys shared the conference title at 7-3; Clovis East placed third at 6-4.
3 Tri-River Athletic Conference boys teams among the top three Division I seeds
Stuck with a No. 4 boys seed was Centennial (17-12), which won the Southwest Yosemite League at 9-1, lost but 74-72 at Clovis North on Dec. 5 without its best player, Malcolm Johnson (injured), and had some endorsements among coaches to earn the D-I top seed. Johnson, a 6-foot-5 senior, has returned and leads the team in scoring (14.7 average) and rebounding (9.8).
Other top seeds were awarded to Ridgeview (D-II), Roosevelt (D-III), Immanuel (D-IV) and Kern Valley (D-V) in boys and Redwood (D-II), Mission Oak (D-III), Immanuel (D-IV) and Memorial (D-V) in girls.
Defending section champions are Edison (D-I), Hanford (D-II), Porterville (D-III), Immanuel (D-IV) and Caruthers (D-V) in boys, and Clovis West (D-I), Independence (D-II), Mission Oak (D-III), Immanuel (D-IV) and Caruthers (D-V) in girls.
Clovis West’s girls, ranked 12th in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, have won three straight D-I titles and six of the past nine under coach Craig Campbell.
12 Clovis West’s girls state ranking by Cal-Hi Sports
First-round games in single-elimination brackets will have boys playing Tuesday and girls Wednesday.
Championships will be staged for the 12th year at Selland Arena on March 4-5. And Southern California Regionals will follow for at least the section finalists, if not more, in each division.
Crichlow’s five-man committee, following the lead of a section basketball advisory committee and, ultimately, a 41-member Board of Managers, concentrated on coaches’ rankings, overall winning percentage and strength of schedule as determined by MaxPreps in seeding boys and girls in five divisions.
If two teams were considered for a certain slot, the team superior in two of three criteria was given the nod in a plan implemented this year, Crichlow said.
“That really helped the process,” Crichlow said. “Last year, a team had to have all three points.”
The strength of schedule criterion clearly had a profound impact, particularly in D-I boys.
The TRAC, which last won a D-I title with Clovis East in 2010, had the section’s five strongest schedules with Clovis North, Buchanan, Clovis West, Central and Clovis East. Centennial had the sixth.
It does look like they weighed heavily on strength of schedule and that’s nice because I always try to play the strongest schedule as possible. It’s good to see they’re rewarding it.
Clovis North boys basketball coach Tony Amundsen
“It does look like they weighed heavily on strength of schedule,” Clovis North coach Tony Amundsen said, “and that’s nice because I always try to play the strongest schedule as possible. It’s good to see they’re rewarding it.”
The Broncos will have a first-round bye before playing at home against No. 8 Liberty-Bakersfield (17-10) or No. 9 Bullard (14-15) on Thursday.
Clovis North is coming off a 72-34 rout of Buchanan in a game closed with a running clock and a 76-75 win over Central in a contest the Broncos trailed by 11 with four minutes remaining.
“I like where we’re at right now,” said Amundsen, who won three consecutive D-I championships in dominant fashion at Bullard from 2011-13.
This is his third year at Clovis North, Clovis Unified’s youngest school, which played its first season of varsity basketball in 2008-09. The Broncos won a section D-II title in 2011, but haven’t won a D-I crown since.
Central’s boys, likewise, haven’t won a D-I title. The Grizzlies – now playing under their third coach in three years, Greg Streets – captured D-III championships in 1993 and ’96, according to historian Bob Barnett.
Andy Boogaard: 559-441-6400, @beepreps
CENTRAL SECTION BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
(Games scheduled to start at 7 p.m.)
Division I: No. 9 Bullard at No. 8 Liberty-Bakersfield; No. 12 Stockdale at No. 5 Clovis West; No. 11 Clovis at No. 6 Bakersfield; No. 10 Edison at No. 7 Buchanan. Byes: No. 1 Clovis North, No. 2 Central, No. 3 Clovis East, No. 4 Centennial.
Division II: No. 9 El Diamante at No. 8 Hanford West; No. 12 Tulare at No. 5 Fresno; No. 13 East Bakersfield at No. 4 Mission Oak; No. 11 Hoover at No. 6 Independence; No. 10 Sunnyside at No. 7 Hanford. Byes: No. 1 Ridgeview, No. 2 Lemoore, No. 3 Memorial.
Division III: No. 9 Frontier at No. 8 North, No. 12 Delano at No. 5 Sanger, No. 13 Washington at No. 4 Porterville, No. 14 South at No. 3 Selma, No. 11 Madera at No. 6 Tulare Western, No. 10 Golden West at No. 7 Tehachapi. Byes: No. 1 Roosevelt, No. 2 West.
Division IV: No. 16 Lindsay at No. 1 Immanuel, No. 9 Bakersfield Christian at No. 8 McFarland, No. 12 Kingsburg at No. 5 Kerman, No. 13 Fowler at No. 4 Madera South, No. 14 Bishop at No. 3 Kennedy, No. 11 Taft at No. 6 Rosamond, No. 10 Yosemite at No. 7 Coalinga, No. 15 Orosi at No. 2 Granite Hills.
Division V: No. 9 Minarets at No. 8 Sierra, No. 12 Wonderful College Prep Academy at No. 5 Riverdale, No. 13 California City at No. 4 Laton, No. 14 Fresno Christian at No. 3 Tranquillity, No. 11 Mendota at No. 6 Liberty-Madera Ranchos, No. 10 Strathmore at No. 7 Farmersville. Byes: No. 1 Kern Valley, No. 2 Caruthers.
Division I: No. 9 Centennial at No. 8 Clovis North, No. 12 Stockdale at No. 5 Central, No. 11 Clovis East at No. 6 Garces, No. 10 Buchanan at No. 7 Ridgeview. Byes: No. 1 Clovis West, No. 2 Edison, No. 3 Hanford, No. 4 Clovis.
Division II: No. 9 Selma at No. 8 Yosemite, No. 12 Hoover at No. 5 Bakersfield, No. 11 Chavez at No. 6 Sierra, No. 10 Shafter at No. 7 Monache. Byes: No. 1 Redwood, No. 2 Independence, No. 3 Lemoore, No. 4 Tulare Western.
Division III: No. 9 McLane at No. 8 Golden West, No. 12 Delano at No. 5 Sanger, No. 13 Foothill at No. 4 Fresno, No. 14 Mendota at No. 3 Madera, No. 11 North at No. 6 Golden Valley, No. 10 Roosevelt at No. 7 Arvin, No. 15 El Diamante at No. 2 Exeter. Bye: No. 1 Mission Oak.
Division IV: No. 9 Strathmore at No. 8 Washington, No. 12 Coalinga at No. 5 Taft, No. 13 Dos Palos at No. 4 Sierra Pacific, No. 14 Madera South at No. 3 Kingsburg, No. 11 Kerman at No. 6 Highland, No. 10 Bishop at No. 7 McFarland, No. 15 Lindsay at No. 2 Orosi. Bye: No. 1 Immanuel.
Division V: No. 9 Firebaugh at No. 8 Chowchilla, No. 12 Rosamond at No. 5 Bakersfield Christian, No. 13 California City at No. 4 Kern Valley, No. 14 Laton at No. 3 Minarets, No. 11 Farmersville at No. 6 Fowler, No. 10 Kennedy at No. 7 Wonderful College Prep Academy, No. 15 Fresno Christian at No. 2 Caruthers. Bye: No. 1 Memorial.