Clovis News: Sports

Buchanan boys an unbearable hoops force

It was midway through the third quarter Wednesday night at Clovis High and Cougars junior guard Allston Moore did something wrong while attempting to guard Buchanan's Alex Fertig, who scored on a spectacular drive.

"Allston," Clovis coach John Jones said with a smile and more than a bit of sarcasm, "he's the best player on their team."

Maybe Jones should have taken it a step further.

Maybe he should have said: "Allston, he's the best player in the Central Section."

"He'd be my first pick, and I also think we have the best team," Bears coach Eric Swain said after Fertig delivered a complete package of numbers, but ones that also have merely mirrored his season -- 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks -- as second-ranked Buchanan took command of the Tri-River Athletic Conference with a 61-51 conquest of the No. 6 Cougars.

This followed a 63-62 win at Clovis West, meaning the 14-5 Bears are not only 3-0 and alone in first place in the TRAC but have registered consecutive road wins. And in the TRAC, with five of six teams ranked among the section's top eight, that's a significant achievement.

"We're trying to go undefeated [in the TRAC]," Fertig said. "It will be difficult, but so far we're off to a good start."

Never in the program's 19-year history have the Bears won an outright league title. They shared their first TRAC championship last year with Central and Clovis East, and also won a co-North Yosemite League title with Hoover and their first senior class in 1995.

The breakthrough could be led by Fertig, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior and author of 20-point scoring averages since he was 10 years old.

"He's a tough match," Swain said, "because he can bounce it, shoot it, move well without it, and he's got such an IQ. I wouldn't trade him for anybody."

That's a statement considering the section's elite -- Bakersfield's Tyrone Wallace, Central Valley Christian's Grant Verhoeven, Clovis East's Kevin Bailey, Tulare's William Stallworth and Bullard's Jajuan Hammond.

Also in the mix is the strongest inside force of them all -- Clovis' Korey Anderson, a 6-7 senior who punished Buchanan for 20 points and 17 rebounds.

But Fertig and the Bears' surplus of shooters proved too much for the Cougars (12-7, 2-1) on a night Dominique Hatter scored 10 points and Ryan Swain, the coach's son, added nine on three 3s.

"We're a tough match because we have five guys who can shoot 3s," Eric Swain said. "You can't keep one guy camped in the key because we can shoot very well."

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