Clovis News: Sports

Clovis East boys finish job against Buchanan

Tim Amundsen settled into his chair, slid down a bit, clasped his hands behind his head and, as if without a worry in the world, unleashed a blur of blues against top-seeded Buchanan High on Saturday night at Selland Arena.

With a crowd of about 7,000 there to see a defense that has no peer in the Central Section, No. 2 Clovis East slashed and dashed for every Bears pass, pounded the offensive glass, won most loose balls, flourished behind Robert Sandoval's floor management and defeated Buchanan 71-52 for the Division I boys basketball title.

Kevin Bailey and Antwoun Whitfield each scored 17 points; Sandoval and Saig Horn, on his 18th birthday, each added 15; and the Timberwolves (25-7) led 18-8 in offensive rebounds and forced 28 turnovers while capturing their third crown in four years.

"When we get momentum going, our defense picks up and it's huge," Clovis East coach Amundsen said.

This was a vintage performance before a throng that exceeded the four previous big ones that arrived for the main event -- boys D-I.

Housing all 10 boys and girls section finals at Selland, beginning in 2006, has been a rousing success, helped in large part by exclusive North Area boys D-I showdowns -- Clovis West over Edison in 2006, Clovis East over Clovis West in '07 and '08, and Edison over Central at the buzzer last year.

This one, pumping the two-day attendance total to 10,800 -- a five-year high at Selland -- matched teams that had split in the Tri-River Athletic Conference while sharing the crown with Central.

And, for Buchanan (23-7), it was its first championship appearance in the 18-year history of the program.

It was the Bears, then as No. 8 seeds, who shocked then-No. 1 Clovis East 70-69 in last year's quarterfinals. And it was the Timberwolves who arrived at Selland on Saturday with memories and an edge.

"Definitely," Sandoval said. "Losing last year was huge; it cut a deep fire in us. And when we heard Buchanan was in the Valley championship, we thought that was beautiful, just to get revenge the best way."

Clovis East led 37-24 early in the third quarter before consecutive Jackson Carbajal 3-pointers within 30 seconds stoked a 10-0 Buchanan run that reduced the gap to 37-34 with 4:14 left in the third.

But the promise would be brief.

Clovis East, leading 46-43, opened the final period with an 8-0 run and, fittingly, it was tenacity that triggered it.

An offensive rebound by Cooper kept alive a possession, and yet another by Sandoval led to his own bucket. Horn had a layup and two free throws in the run, making it 54-43 with 6:11 to go.

If Buchanan wasn't toast at that point, the butter absolutely melted soon after when Cooper snatched offensive rebounds that led to 3-pointers by Sandoval and Whitfield for a 60-46 lead.

"It's awfully hard to dig out of a hole against a good team," Bears coach Eric Swain said. "You battle back and battle back, but sometimes it's tough to get over that hump."

Clovis East, likely at home, and Buchanan, surely on the road, will play in the Southern California Regional on Tuesday. The seeds and sites will be determined this morning at the state CIF office in Los Alamitos.