Clovis News: Sports

Bullard boys hang on to beat Edison

When Bullard High's 19-point lead vanished in the second half Thursday night at Edison, the 10th-ranked Knights were facing considerably more than lost momentum.

"History, yeah, I was aware of it," Bullard's Mike Hill said.

The Tigers annals roar -- state-record 21 section championships, five straight County/Metro Athletic Conference titles, 33 consecutive league wins and a 42-1 record in the league's six-year history.

But in the face of it all, Bullard regrouped and received five points from Darnell Johnson in a game-closing 9-4 run to escape with a 72-67 victory.

"This is our house -- our house," Johnson yelped to Knights fans after scoring a layup with 1 second remaining following his own steal, denying Edison a potential 3-pointer to tie it.

Hill scored 21 points, Jajuan Hammond had 13, Anthony White added 11 and Johnson 10 for Bullard (12-6, 2-0), which authored the only other Edison loss in CMAC annals -- a 61-59 decision on the Knights' court four years ago.

Robert Upshaw, a 6-foot-10 sophomore establishing his identity on this night, scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half for Edison (9-8, 1-1).

And it was Upshaw's third dunk, on a lob from Bryson Crawford, that tied it, 63-63, with 3:32 remaining.

"I knew they were going to come back; they're a good team on their home court," Bullard coach Tony Amundsen said.

All the way back? After trailing 49-30 early in the third quarter?

"Crazy game," said Hill, "and a hostile crowd."

A junior guard on a team with only two seniors, Hill made four 3-pointers, including three in a 15-point first half, when the Knights forged their biggest lead -- 42-22 -- late in the second quarter.

But Hill -- and most of his teammates, for that matter -- had long lost his accuracy when he went to the free-throw line with 10 seconds to go and a 68-67 lead.

"I knew I was going to make them, honestly," said Hill.

He did, indeed, make both -- the first with a forgiving bounce after clanking off the back of the rim: "It happens, but it went in, that's all that matters."

The Bullard conquest came two days after Central won 72-64 at Clovis West in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.

If the homecourt losses by Edison and Clovis West -- the section's most dominant teams of the past 20 years -- don't signal a transfer of power, they at the very least welcome Central and Bullard into the elite neighborhood of section boys hoops.

It's not as novel for Central, which was denied last year's Division I title, when Edison scored on a miracle shot at the buzzer.

And even Bullard, while going 15-15 in Amundsen's first year, showed signs of arrival in the D-I playoffs on the road as a No. 10 seed by upsetting No. 7 Bakersfield 74-60 before losing to No. 2 Central 66-62.

Thursday, it was fitting a steal sealed the deal because defense was the difference for the Knights behind forward Carl Goodman and guards Hammond and Dennell McDowell.

"We have a lot of speed, that's why I like to get up and press teams," Amundsen said. "And when we execute it, we're pretty dangerous defensively."

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