High School Basketball

Central Section basketball finals: Division-by-division matchups

Caruthers High coach Anna Almeida gets into the action during the 2015 Central Section Division IV girls basketball title game against Bakersfield Christian. The Blue Raiders, who won 60-34, are back at Selland looking to complete another championship run after a 23-7 season but must get by Memorial of the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
Caruthers High coach Anna Almeida gets into the action during the 2015 Central Section Division IV girls basketball title game against Bakersfield Christian. The Blue Raiders, who won 60-34, are back at Selland looking to complete another championship run after a 23-7 season but must get by Memorial of the County/Metro Athletic Conference. VIDA STAFF PHOTO


NO. 1 CLOVIS NORTH (20-8) VS. NO. 2 CENTRAL (21-6)

  • When: 8 p.m. Saturday
  • Section titles: Clovis North 1 – 2011; Central 2 – 1993, ’96
  • How they got here: Clovis North tied Central for the Tri-River Athletic Conference title at 7-3. In playoffs, Broncos defeated No. 9 Bullard 83-46, d. No. 4 Centennial 69-63; Grizzlies d. No. 10 Edison 70-53, d. No. 3 Clovis East 66-54.
  • Head-to-head: Split – Central won at home 62-60; Clovis North won at home 76-75 in OT
  • Ticket-sellers: Broncos 6-5 junior Ben Avera has balanced three-point shooting with sensational drives in traffic that often result in him landing on his posterior. Senior guard Jonah Brown has height (6-3) and range, but will he play on this night (right ankle sprain)? That answer figures to be pivotal in the outcome. Jahvon Johnson, another Clovis North senior guard with length (6-3), secured the semi win over Centennial in a variety of ways in the final minutes, and junior forward Elijah Straughter brings a deep game, including shot-blocking ability generally without fouling. … Central will bus to Selland a starting lineup with few rivals in the section. And to think it features sophomore guards in Cash Williams and Cam’ron Wilson. Senior Chris Seeley, at 6-8, has been a difficult matchup for Clovis North in the post, as has junior guard Jaylon Johnson. Both programs are seeking their first D-I plaque. Clovis North’s 2011 title was in D-II; Central’s champions were D-III, according to section historian Bob Barnett. Broncos coached by Tony Amundsen, who won three D-I titles at Bullard from 2011-13; Grizzlies directed by former Edison High standout Greg Streets, their third coach in as many seasons.


No. 1 Ridgeview (28-1) vs. No. 2 Lemoore (25-3)

  • When: 8 p.m. Friday
  • Section titles: Ridgeview 2 – 2010, ’12; Lemoore 8 – 1926, ’27, ’49, ’88, ’89, ’90, ’91, ’92
  • How they got here: Ridgeview walked through the South Yosemite League at 10-0. In playoffs, Wolf Pack d. No. 9 El Diamante 70-47, d. No. 4 Mission Oak 77-61; Lemoore won West Yosemite League (11-1). In playoffs, Tigers d. No. 7 and defending champion Hanford 71-67, d. No. 3 Memorial 70-60.
  • Head-to-head: None
  • Ticket-sellers: Simply, Ridgeview is a D-II team with D-I talent, emphatically evident in an 80-59 road conquest on Jan. 8 of D-I finalist Central in the section’s most relevant boys result of the season. The Wolf Pack roster is stacked with 6-5 type gifts generally reserved for Saturday college TV like Jordan Roberts, Isaiah Martin and Justin McCall. Interesting call: Will a program with current juniors McCall and Roberts, who torched Mission Oak for 24 points in the semis, voluntarily request a bump up to D-I next season, Year 3 of the section’s three-year playoff realignment cycle based on competitive equity? Such requests are rare, but they are automatically accepted by section administration. … A beauty of at-the-rim theater will match Lemoore’s Jaylunn English and Matt Borba against Roberts and Co. And don’t dismiss Tigers backcourters Reggie Davis, Roger Wilson and Allen Perryman, who, by the way, settled for silver medals against Ridgeview in D-II football.


No. 1 Roosevelt (24-7) vs. No. 3 Selma (25-6)

  • When: 4 p.m. Saturday
  • Section titles: Roosevelt 1 – 1977; Selma 1 – 1914.
  • How they got here: Roosevelt won a third-straight North Yosemite League crown (9-1). In playoffs, Rough Riders d. No. 8 North 82-62, d. No. 4 Porterville 76-72; Selma (8-2) lost only to D-IV top-seeded Immanuel in the Central Sequoia League. In playoffs, Bears d. No. 14 South 67-54, d. No. 6 Tulare Western 69-50, d. No. 2 West 70-65.
  • Head-to-head: Selma won 71-70 at home on Jan. 7 in the Jesse Lujan Tournament.
  • Ticket-sellers: Roosevelt, oddly, won a petition to return to D-III in the face of the section’s competitive equity playoff model after going 27-8 and placing second by a point to Fresno in the 2014 D-II final and closing a 24-5 season last year by losing by seven to Mission Oak in the D-II semis. All this, while being shepherded by a 6-8 center and one of the most prolific scorers/rebounders/shot blockers in section annals, Bryson Williams, who’s headed to Save Mart Center as a Fresno State Bulldog. He’s averaging 34.1 points, 16 rebounds and 7.0 blocks per game. And freshman guard Stephen Perry has launched a promising career. … Selma, largely dominant in the CSL sans confrontations against Immanuel, could become familiar with Selland for a while given the impact presence of sophomores Henry Ramirez, William Pallesi and Tiveon Stroud. And not to ignore senior Preet Bains, who dropped 22 points on Roosevelt in that first duel.


No. 1 Immanuel (24-5) vs. No. 11 Taft (19-11)

  • When: Noon Saturday
  • Section titles: Immanuel 12 – 1957, ’88, ’91, ’93, ’94, 2001, ’02, ’03, ’07, ’08, ’14, ’15; Taft 2 – 1952, ’56
  • How they got here: Immanuel repeated a 10-0 record in the Central Sequoia League. In playoffs, Eagles d. No. 8 McFarland 85-44, d. No. 12 Kingsburg 70-38; Taft (9-3) tied for second in the South Sequoia League. In playoffs, Wildcats d. No. 6 Rosamond 56-38, d. No. 3 Kennedy 46-44, d. No. 15 Orosi 87-55.
  • Head-to-head: None
  • Ticket-sellers: It would have been one thing for Immanuel to play a state-ranked, top-divison foe from the section; quite another for the Eagles to draw an 11 seed, and in D-IV no less, while pursuing a third straight championship. Why mention? Because they’ve gone 41-1 against section opposition with a per-game scoring superiority of 31.6 in the past two years. And that’s been against a range of D-I to D-IV opponents. The only loss was a 92-90, triple OT decision to D-I Clovis East of the Tri-River Athletic Conference on a neutral court this season. Colin Slater II (22.6), a senior point guard who has signed with Tulane, and Darrin Person Jr. (17.0 points, 9.4 rebounds), a 6-6 junior forward with multiple offers, rival the best tandems in the state. Slater has delivered 43-, 48- and 19-point playoff games, including 12 3-pointers against McFarland. That tied Clovis East’s Joey Reynaga (2007) for third-best in section history behind Clovis East’s Phillip Matcham (15, 2005) and McFarland’s Eliseo Santillano (13, 1992), according to Barnett. Senior guard R.J. Horn (12.4, 4.4), headed to D-II Fresno Pacific, has missed two weeks and is questionable for this one with stomach-area discomfort. He did resume practicing midweek. Zach Prins, a senior wing with a 4.14 GPA, will play next for D-III and academically acclaimed Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. He will pursue a law degree. And, finally, an Eagles star about to rise – 6-4 left-handed freshman Carson Verhoeven, cousin to Grant Verhoeven (CVC, Stanford) and nephew of Pete Verhoeven (Hanford, Fresno State, NBA). … Seniors Zach Kolb (16.0, 7.0) and Tevin Howell (15.1, 7.8) are impact players for Taft, but wow for this assignment for the Wildcats in downtown Fresno.


No. 1 Kern Valley (20-2) VS. NO. 14 Fresno Christian (8-21)

  • When: 4 p.m. Friday
  • Section titles: Kern Valley 0; Fresno Christian 4 – 1992, ’97, 2011, ’12
  • How they got here: Kern Valley won High Desert League (8-0). In playoffs, Broncs d. No. 8 Sierra 83-74, d. No. 5 Riverdale 65-57; Fresno Christian (1-9) placed last in the six-team West Sequoia League. In playoffs, the Eagles d. No. 3 Tranquillity 78-69, d. No. 6 Liberty-Madera Ranchos 70-68, d. No. 10 Strathmore 51-43.
  • Head-to-head: None
  • Ticket-sellers: Selland Arena has typically been a shooting horror show for all divisions in both genders since the section finals shifted here permanently in 2005. Why? Name the suspects – Pressure. Larger court (10 feet longer than traditional high school 84-foot floors). And, above all, odd depth perception with walls far behind the backboards. Kern Valley guard Zach Bushling experienced this last year, shooting 1 for 7, including 0 for 3 long range, and scoring three points in a 45-41 loss to Caruthers in the D-V championship. But he’s back as a junior and on fire, having delivered a 24-31-25 series in his past three games. … Fresno Christian, meanwhile, represents the most bizarre story in all of section basketball, if not beyond. Never has a 1-9 league finisher found a locker room at Selland, but a deep look into the story helps explain the journey under second-year coach Jon Penberthy. The Eagles have lost six games by five points or fewer and, most important, they played a nonleague schedule loaded with upper-division opponents “for this purpose,” Penberthy says, “to beat them up.” Headlining the bizarre story is junior guard Daniel Walker, who, in the playoffs, drilled Tranquillity for 31 points and Liberty-Madera Ranchos for 29, then scored but one point against Strathmore while conceding offense for defense in shuting down the Spartans’ best player.


No. 1 Clovis West (28-3) vs. No. 2 Edison (27-3)

  • When: 6 p.m. Saturday
  • Section titles: Clovis West 15 – 1990, ’91, ’92, ’94, ’95, ’96, 2001, ’02, ’03, ’07, ’08, ’10, ’13, ’14, ’15; Edison 7 – 1993, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, 2005, ’07
  • How they got here: Clovis West (10-0) won Tri-River Athletic Conference. In playoffs, Golden Eagles d. No. 8 Clovis North 63-25, d. No. 4 Clovis 69-32; Edison (10-0) won County/Metro Athletic Conference. In playoffs, d. No. 10 Buchanan 70-31, d. No. 3 Hanford 74-58.
  • Head-to-head: None
  • Ticket-sellers: Where to begin with Clovis West, which has eight players with college offers, and only two of those are seniors? Coach Craig Campbell is 263-70 (.790) with six section titles in 11 years with the Golden Eagles, and this may be his best shooting team. Five players totaled 10 3-pointers in the Wednesday semi against Clovis, with junior Sarah Bates making three and freshman Madison Campbell (coach’s daughter) and junior Danae Marquez making two each. Juniors Megan Anderson and Elizabeth Parker made the others, and senior Aysha Kirkland and Arizona State-commit and junior Bre’yanna Sanders were dominant on the boards. Marquez and Sanders scored 12 and 10 points in Clovis West’s 48-36 win over Edison in last year’s D-I championship. The Eagles arrive this time with a No. 11 state ranking by Cal-Hi Sports and a 15-game winning streak in a season in which they have outscored the opposition by an average of 36.9 points. … Even a bit more scalding is Edison, which has won 18 in a row in a season in which it has outscored the opposition by an average of 30.8 points. The Tigers balance a deep backcourt of Liz Randles, Jerrene Carter, Zariah Brown and Malaya Kendrick with imposing frontliners Rodjanae Wade (6-2, UNLV) and freshman Ramani Parker (6-3). Randles and Marquez present a dyanamo duel of point guards. Key for Edison – yet again – is responding respectably to the Eagles’ trapping press a year after the Tigers committed 28 turnovers at Selland. Bill Engel has won seven section crowns in a combination of 12 seasons with the Tigers’ girls and boys.


No. 2 Independence (21-6) VS. No. 5 Bakersfield (20-11)

  • When: 6 p.m. Friday
  • Section titles: Independence 2 – 2012, ’15; Bakersfield 0
  • How they got here: Independence (10-0) won the South Yosemite League. In playoffs, Falcons d. No. 7 Monache 56-38, d. No. 3 Lemoore 43-21; Bakersfield (6-4) placed third in the Southwest Yosemite League. In playoffs, Drillers d. No. 12 Hoover 68-11, d. No. 4 Tulare Western 43-33, d. No. 1 Redwood 42-41.
  • Head-to-head: Independence won 58-34 at home in a nonleague game Jan. 12.
  • Ticket-sellers: A year after winning the D-II title with a 68-51 victory over Sierra and the Chieftains’ 520 enrollment, 1,950-student Independence now catches the other side of the draw with Bakersfield and its 2,880 enrollment. How to explain? One: the section’s competitive equity playoff model, which has total disregard for student body size. The Falcons return virtually their entire cast that beat Sierra. Kahlaijah Dean, still only a sophomore, leads Independence in scoring (13.8). She had 21 at Selland last year. But the Falcons are more about defense, giving up an average of 31.9 points per game and coming off one in which they shut out Lemoore in the fourth quarter and limited the Tigers to 17 percent shooting (6 of 35) for the game. … Only one top seed failed to make the 10 boys and girls finals at Selland, and Bakersfield is responsible, winning 42-41 in a Wednesday semifinal at No. 1 Redwood on a Taylor Caldwell-fed layup by Shaley Williams in the final seconds. Williams and sophomore Caldwell finished with 13 and 11 points against the 23-5 Rangers.


No. 1 Mission Oak (25-6) vs. No. 3 Madera (21-11)

  • When: 2 p.m. Saturday
  • Section titles: Mission Oak 1 – 2015; Madera 1 – 2003
  • How they got here: Mission Oak (10-0) won East Yosemite League. In playoffs, Hawks d. No. 8 Golden West 53-47, d. No. 5 Sanger 79-76 (OT). Madera (6-4) tied for third in the CMAC with Sanger and Memorial. In playoffs, Coyotes d. No. 14 Mendota 69-39, d. No. 6 Golden Valley 46-36, d. No. 2 Exeter 56-45.
  • Head-to-head: Split – Mission Oak won 48-41 at home Nov. 28 in a Foundation Game; Madera won 38-34 Jan. 9 in the Old Town Clovis Tournament.
  • Ticket-sellers: Mission Oak’s Rhegan Fernandes had five three-pointers and 20 points, Tristen Myers 23 points and 17 rebounds, Nashedah Mu’min 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Kambrayia Elzy 16 points in the semifinal escape at home against Sanger. Elzy (16 points, 5 assists), Myers (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Fernandes (11 points) keyed the Hawks’ 53-50 upset of top-seeded Fresno in last year’s D-III final. … Madera, which won the D-I championship in 2003, has marched into Selland with defense. But now the challenge of slowing a Hawks offense averaging 56.2 points. Further, the Coyotes have but three seniors on a team led by juniors Ashley Hansen, Brianna Rubalcaba and Alyssa Burton, and sophomore Alyssa Fernandez. Senior Creona Harshaw is a three-year varsity player.


No. 1 Immanuel (19-8) vs. No. 2 Orosi (27-4)

  • When: 10 a.m. Saturday
  • Section titles: Immanuel 3 – 2013, ’14, ’15; Orosi 0.
  • How they got here: Immanuel (8-2) won Central Sequoia League. In playoffs, Eagles d. No. 9 Strathmore 64-41, d. No. 4 Sierra Pacific 69-42; Orosi won East Sierra League for the third year in a row at 12-0. In playoffs, Cardinals d. No. 15 Lindsay 83-20, d. No. 7 McFarland 76-40, d. No. 3 Kingsburg 55-50.
  • Head-to-head: None
  • Ticket-sellers: Immanuel’s pursuit of a fourpeat begins, once again, with senior guard Zoe March. She has started on all four teams that have gone 84-30 under coach James Stevens. She scored 20 points in the semi win over Sierra Pacific. It was her 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals that powered a 44-32 victory over Orosi a year ago at Selland for the D-IV plaque. The Eagles’ two section titles preceding that were in D-V. Sophomore Brooke Gonsalves scored 19 points in the quarterfinal win over Strathmore and 11 against Sierra Pacific on a night Immanuel placed five scorers in double figures. … Orosi, behind 15 points from Isabella Jimenez, 12 from Cassidy Rodriguez and 10 from Adriana Gonzalez closed with a 19-6 run at home to escape in the semis against Kingsburg. Jimenez (10 points, five rebounds, three steals) played well in last year’s final against Immanuel.


No. 1 Memorial (18-7) VS. No. 2 Caruthers (23-7)

  • When: 2 p.m. Friday
  • Section titles: Memorial 9 – 1977, ’78, ’79, ’80, ’82, ’83, ’84, ’86, 2012; Caruthers 1 – 2015
  • How they got here: Memorial (6-4) tied Madera and Sanger for second in the County/Metro Athletic Conference. In playoffs, Panthers d. No. 8 Chowchilla 58-26, d. No. 4 Kern Valley 69-52; Caruthers (10-0) won the West Sequoia League. In playoffs, Blue Raiders d. No. 15 Fresno Christian 88-9, d. No. 10 Kennedy 60-28, d. No. 3 Minarets 45-24.
  • Head-to-head: None
  • Ticket-sellers: Memorial’s range of section titles has stretched from the Jackie White-powered Yosemite Division teams in the late ’70s to the Sequoia Division in the ’80s and Division IV in 2012. This year’s improbable road to Selland has third-year coach Santino Reynolds starting freshmen Symya Murray, Jada Shakoor, Aunjona James and LuzElena Parks, and junior Kerri Weisert. Murray scored 16 points in the semi win over Kern Valley. She generally is assigned to defend the opponent’s best player. James is the offensive facilitator and Parks the enforcer inside. … Caruthers is back under coach Anna Almeida despite losing top players Lilly Hernandez, Emily Mullins and Briana Davila from the team that routed Bakersfield Christian 60-34 for last year’s D-V crown. The Blue Raiders, likewise, are dependent on freshmen, evident in the playoffs. Freshman Felicia Ramirez scored 16 points in the quarters against Kennedy and fellow rookie Jaque Magana led a balanced offense with 10 against Minarets.