Austin Armstead broke a tie by scoring six of his 19 points in the final minute as fourth-seeded Bullard High punched a fifth consecutive ticket to the Central Section boys Division I basketball final at Selland Arena by winning 71-68 before a capacity crowd at Clovis West on Wednesday night.
This sets up an All-County/Metro Athletic Conference rematch at 8 p.m. Satuday with No. 2 Edison, which beat the Knights 58-41 for last year’s title before around 7,000 fans.
Bullard had won the previous three D-I titles (against Clovis West) under coach Tony Amundsen, who then shifted to Clovis North.
Jeff Schmidt took over the Knights program last year. And Wednesday — again — he turned in the clutch to the left-handed Armstead, who will be making his fourth straight D-I title-game appearance.
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“He’s got a lot of experience, a veteran when it comes to Selland, and he’s a workhorse,” Schmidt said of Armstead, who scored all 23 of his points in the second half of a 54-51 CMAC win at Edison two weeks ago — Bullard’s pivotal win of the season at the time. The Tigers and Knights tied for the CMAC title.
Markelle Raymond made four 3-pointers in the first half of an 18-point performance and Kevin Howland-Wolaridge finished with 15 points for the Knights (19-9), who have won seven straight.
Sophomore Adrian Antunez scored 32 points for top-seeded and Tri-River Athletic Conference champion Clovis West (21-6), which had defeated Bullard 44-40 at Fresno City College on Jan. 6.
Eagles three-year starter Stacey Leggett, defended by Armstead, was held to seven points.