Clovis News: Sports

Clovis East boys march into D-I final

Leave it to Clovis East High point guard Robert Sandoval to see the big picture.

With the Bakersfield defense pressing the action late in Tuesday night's Division I Central Section semifinal at Clovis East, he skipped three fourth-quarter passes that led to six points and keyed the No. 2-seeded Timberwolves to a 73-68 victory.

Then he thought about the even bigger picture: A date with top-seeded Buchanan at 8 p.m. Saturday at Selland Arena. That's the same team that knocked Clovis East out of last year's playoffs.

"It's beautiful. I wanted that," said Sandoval, who had 12 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and six steals. "There's no other situation I wanted. Get them back for last year on the big stage, that's the best thing ever."

It took a 32-minute dash in the semifinals to get there. Bakersfield (19-8) scored eight straight points to trim the Clovis East lead to 59-58 midway through the fourth quarter, with a gassed Sandoval on the bench for most of the run.

He came back in, settled his team and went to work, finding Kevin Bailey for a foul and two free throws, Travis Cooper for a layup and Bailey for another to make it 65-58 with 2 minutes to play.

"They were playing gaps hard, so Coach [Tim Amundsen] said to get some motion going and just look hard to the rim," Sandoval said.

Clovis East (24-7) went 10 for 12 from the free-throw line down the stretch, including four straight from Bailey. He finished with 18 points.

Alfonso Jackson had 21 points and five steals for No. 6 Bakersfield to lead all scorers. Tyrone Wallace added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"That's a good team we beat tonight," Amundsen said. "We feel very good about that win."

Two full-court defenses did their job, forcing Bakersfield into 24 turnovers and Clovis East into 23 and the whole gym into a fast-paced frenzy.

Said Bakersfield coach Greg Burt: "[Clovis East] is just a really good basketball team."