Clovis News: Sports

Edison boys 10th hoops seed but still dangerous

Edison High's boys basketball team is the defending Division I champion, winners of three straight titles going back to its days in Division II and the all-time leader with 21 Central Section crowns.

The Tigers are the co-champions of the County/Metro Athletic Conference and owners of 17 victories this season. Yet Edison is the last seed in a 10-team D-I bracket that tips off tonight.

And the Tigers certainly couldn't have anticipated their playoff-opening opponent: seventh-seeded Clovis West, a program that has competed in nine D-I finals (winning six) since 2000.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Clovis West; it's one of 22 opening-round games across the section's five playoff divisions.

"They have to be one of the finest 10th seeds I've ever seen in the Central Section," Golden Eagles coach Tom Orlich said. "If there's been someone better, I'd like to see who it is. And I'd like to think we are one of the better seventh seeds ever. It is an interesting matchup."

Based on its past postseason success and the presence of a front line (6-foot-7 Steven McClellan and 6-10 Robert Upshaw) that few teams in the section can match, should Edison have been given a little more respect by the seeding committee?

Well, that's not a worry to Tigers coach Arturo Ormond.

"When it comes to seeding, with only 10 teams, unless you are a one, two or three, there is not a lot of complaining you can do," Ormond said. "They are what they are. I don't dwell on it. Eventually, you've got to beat all the good teams anyway."

Clovis West certainly is one of the good teams, despite its 4-6, fourth-place finish in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.

The Golden Eagles, led by guard Jason Ritchey, went 14-2 before conference play began, with victories against seven teams that went on to win at least 19 games. Perhaps the most telling of those was a 74-66 triumph over a Gahr-Cerritos team that beat four Fresno-area league champions (Bullard, Memorial, Lemoore and Central Valley Christian) this season while climbing to No. 7 in CalHiSport's Division III rankings.

Clovis West's downfall, however, was a combined 0-6 effort against Buchanan, Clovis East and Central -- the teams that earned the top three seeds in D-I.

"We hit the perfect storm in the TRAC," Orlich said. "Everybody pretty much had one of the best teams in the histories of their school, from Buchanan to [Clovis] East to Central. The TRAC was as strong as it's ever been in the history of the conference, and I think that will bear out in the playoffs.

"Whether we can upgrade our play in the playoffs remains to be seen."