Round 1 goes to Tony Amundsen and Clovis North vs. Vance Walberg and Clovis West in a duel of Central Section coaching and boys basketball titans.
Ben Avera and Elijah Straughter combined for 23 of their 42 points in the fourth quarter, 5-foot-6 point guard Domenic Reyes facilitated the flow down the stretch with precision, and the Broncos closed with a 19-6 run to conquer The Bee’s top-ranked Golden Eagles 83-73 Friday night in a Tri-River Athletic Conference opener at Clovis North.
The 12-6 Broncos, The Bee’s opening No. 1 who had dipped to No. 6, were nothing less than No. 1-like after trailing 67-64 on the third consecutive 3-pointer by bespectacled junior guard Fernando Guardado of 17-2 Clovis West with 5 minutes remaining.
We had been struggling holding leads in the last quarter, but playing good team ball made the difference tonight.
5-foot-6 point guard Domenic Reyes of Clovis North on Friday’s TRAC-opening win over Clovis West
Straughter then dunked, Chad Fugman made a layup after his own steal, Straughter drilled the last of Clovis North’s 13 3-pointers from eight players, Avera made a layup after a Reyes steal and assist, and it was a Broncos-ending stampede against an Eagles team that had won 14 straight.
This was a year after they tied Central for the TRAC title and, ultimately, finished runners-up to the Grizzlies for the section Division I title at Selland Arena.
“We were confident coming in,” said Reyes. “We always love playing against Clovis West, it’s always a good game. And teamwork helped us overcome in the end. We had been struggling holding leads in the last quarter, but playing good team ball made the difference tonight.”
Straughter and senior guard Taj Gill each had three of Clovis North’s 3-pointers.
“I wouldn’t want to die by the 3, but I definitely like living by it,” said Amundsen, who shifted to Clovis North after after winning three consecutive section D-I titles from 2011-13 at Bullard while going 85-15. “We can shoot the ball; we spend a lot of time on it. We do competitive shooting every single day.”
He said this after playing chess with Walberg in an elite prep coaching match. Walberg is 360-70 with eight section titles (two stripped) in two go-rounds and 14 seasons at Clovis West.
The 6-6 Straughter, pivotal to Clovis North’s 20-10 season a year ago, finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
“Elijah kind of holds everything together for us, offensively and defensively,” Amundsen said. “He gives us inside scoring presence, he’s really worked on the 3-point shot and he controls the boards.”
Avera, a 6-6 senior guard signed with Azusa Pacific, finished with 22 points, hitting 4 of 4 free throws in the final 20 seconds, after missing two games with a hamstring injury and practicing lightly twice in the previous eight days.
Adrian Martinez, Walter Graves and Adrian Antunez scored 17, 16 and 15 points for Clovis West, which will now head to yet another section D-I 2016 finalist in Central on Tuesday. The Grizzlies defeated Clovis North 77-64 for last year’s section crown at Selland Arena.
Clovis North 83, Clovis West 73
CW (17-2, 0-1 Tri-River): Dante Chachere 3, Adrian Antunez 15, Matt Morris 1, Izaiah Cazares 2, Travis Turney 5, Fernando Guardado 9, Walter Graves 16, Germaun Nutt 5, Adrian Martinez 17.
CN (12-6, 1-0): Azaad Brar 3, Ben Avera 22, Domenic Reyes 2, Razan Nagra 3, Quinton Mukai 3, Trenton Holloway 9, Taj Gill 11, Chad Fugman 10, Elijah Straughter 20.