Clovis News: Sports

Clovis North wins boys HIT hoops title

When it was over, having defeated host school Hoover High 60-46 for the Holiday Invitational Tournament title Wednesday night, Clovis North coach Rob Streeter dug deep into his pocket of modesty: "We've got a few pieces."

A warning to the Central Section Division II playoff field in two months -- there are more than a "few" pieces in the Broncos' stable.

Further, there's another on the way in senior Zack Bowman, a two-year starting forward, who had a broken right (shooting) hand surgically repaired following the football season and is expected to return in a couple of weeks.

"They're very good," Hoover coach Nick French said of Clovis North, which received 16 points inside from Ethan Lennox, 14 outside from tourney Most Valuable Player Richie Tesmer, precise court management from point guard Quinton Duckett and solid play from its bench while improving to 10-2.

The Broncos ran the gamut of excellent North Area opposition of the section, including Washington (67-45), Bullard (68-63) and Memorial (63-54), while going 4-0 in their second HIT appearance.

Obvious with their unselfish ball distribution and teamwork is a senior class -- the school's first -- that has been playing together throughout high school.

And it hasn't been an easy path to get here, Clovis North having taken some shots from the likes of Edison, Bullard and Hoover in the past two seasons in the County/Metro Athletic Conference.

Included was a 1-9 campaign in the CMAC in 2008-09, when most of these Clovis North seniors were playing as sophomores.

"I'm very proud of them," said Streeter, whose team will step up from the CMAC to the Tri-River Athletic Conference and from D-III to D-II in the postseason.

"It's nice to see them come through after their struggles as sophomores and now reap some of the fruits of their hard labor."

French likens the Broncos to Buchanan and its first senior class in 1995, a group that gave Clovis West one of its losses in the Golden Eagles' 28-3, section-winning season. French played as a junior for that CW team.

Hoover (7-2), meanwhile, finally met reality in the 52nd HIT after winning its first three games minus three starters hurt in a Dec. 2 automobile accident en route to a tournament in Aptos.

"They didn't want to win for the HIT championship, French said. "They wanted to win for the guys who can't play. I'm very proud of our kids -- very proud."

  • Lance Van Grouw made six 3-pointers in a 33-point performance and all-tourney selection Grant Verhoeven added 13 as Central Valley Christian defeated Washington 63-58 for the consolation title. Akili Arnold scored 24 points for the Panthers.
  • Besides Tesmer and Verhoeven, completing the all-tourney team were Clovis' Korey Anderson, Memorial's Nick Ball, Hoover's Jesse Jimenez and Clovis North's Lennox.
  • Ryan O'Rourke and Royshon Snowden scored 13 and 12 points as Memorial beat Central 53-46 for third place. The Grizzlies, who managed to push into the championship bracket despite the loss of nine players, including four starters, for disciplinary reasons, received 16 points from sophomore LJ Moore.
  • Jajuan Hammond scored 22 points to power Bullard past Edison 62-44 for fifth place.
  • Donnell Vercher, his basketball legs back after an outstanding football season as a two-way player for Clovis, scored 19 points to lead the Cougars over El Diamante 60-34 for seventh place.
  • Andrew Furlong had 24 points to power Fresno past Kennedy-Richmond 58-55 in the consolation bracket. Kennedy was the only nonsection representative in the 16-team field.
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