By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
You might notice a theme here in this edition of Around the TRAC. Yep, check out those awesome team pictures of happy ball players winning championships. Even though Christmas break is about spending time with those we love the most, our student athletes made us proud with their accomplishments with their second families – their teammates and coaches.
Clovis West girls basketball has busy two weeks playing against the best
Fresh off their consolation championship at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona, the Clovis West girls went down south and took care of business at the Larry Doyle Orange County Tournament winning the championship 70-48 over Redondo Union (7-6). They also played the No. 1 and No. 9 team in the state in quite a stretch before heading into TRAC play starting on Jan. 15.
After losing the first round game of the TOC on the game’s final play, the Golden Eagles (14-3) who are currently ranked No. 12 in the state, responded extremely well.
“The competition at the TOC was outstanding and after losing a game at the buzzer, our team had to dig down and persevere against some really good teams and we toughened up a lot,” said Coach Craig Campbell. “We found our defensive identity and carried that with us to Huntington Beach [the site of the tournament].”
Leading the way in the scoring column in the championship game were juniors Sarah Bates and Bre’yanna Sanders with 14, Megan Anderson with 13 and freshman Maddison Campbell (daughter of Coach Campbell) with eight. But, as always with Clovis West, it’s about a cohesive unit.
“Our balance and depth are our key,” says Campbell. “If we ever get consumed with stats and individual aspects, that would be our demise. We are great through each other.”
And on Jan. 6, the girls traveled up north to face St. Mary’s of Stockton again, those Gaels who are 14-0 and ranked the No. 1 girls team in the entire nation. Coach Campbell expected his team to fight and compete, something he didn’t think his team did the first go-around when they lost 70-47 on their home court. And this time, despite the score, the played their hearts out in a 70-60 defeat.
Sanders scored 20, matching up against Aquira DeCosta, the No. 1 rated sophomore in the nation and never backing down, and Bates and Marquez scored 16 and 10 respectively.
And finally, on Saturday, Jan. 9, the girls faced the No. 9 team in the state, Vanden of Fairfield, and beat them in the east gym 81-63.
Quite a stretch indeed, but one that will serve the Golden Eagles well during their Valley title defense and hopefully a state title.
Walter Graves III drives Clovis West boys to So Cal championship
Coach Tom Orlich called out the play and Walter Graves III responded. Graves’ baseline drive with one second remaining to beat San Clemente in the championship game of the Tustin Classic in Southern California 51-50.
“I drove baseline gave him a spin and went straight up,” said Graves describing the game-winning shot. “I was hyped up that coach gave me the chance to win the game for our team. I was more relieved that it did go in more than I was pumped.”
Relived. Pumped. Jubilation. Whatever emotion followed, the Golden Eagles experienced it. Coach Tom Orlich called Graves overall game “One of his best of the season” and it showed: 19 points and 13 total rebounds.
But, as always, it was a team effort and Graves savored the moment: “A·Mart [Adrian Martinez] came up to me and gave me a hug while saying, ‘Walt you played your heart out bud! Love you bro, good job!’ Our coaches told our guys on the floor great execution of the play and way to play hard and stick with it.”
Adrian Antunez was named tournament MVP (season high 34 points in the second round win against Mid-Pacific) and Adrian Martinez and Walter Graves were named to the all-tournament team.
Clovis North basketball wins Chris Huber Invitational Tournament
Jahvon Johnson scored 15 points in the championship game of the Chris Huber Invitational Tournament against host Acalanes to lead the Broncos to a 69-50 victory, earning MVP honors in the process.
The Bronocs raced out to a 19-2 first quarter lead and never looked back as senior running-mate Jonah Brown, who was named to the all-tournament team, added 25 points. It’s always nice to win a tournament, which can be a springboard headed into league play.
“The kids were very excited after winning the championship and I believe that they knew they could win the tournament,” said Coach Tony Amundsen after the game. “Every win we get helps our confidence. That confidence combined with hard work makes us hard to beat. We feel like we are taking the right steps going into league play.”
In the semi-final game, the Broncos beat Riodan of San Francisco 72-60 behind Brown’s 23, Johnson’s 18 and Chad Fugman’s 11. Blake Landseadal was named the Chris Huber Most Inspirational Award.
Clovis girls beat Buchanan for basketball championship
TRAC play has yet to begin but that didn’t stop a great battle in the championship game of the Kiwanis New Year’s Classic between Clovis and Buchanan. The Cougars, led by junior guard Rachel Berry, beat the Bears 53-48 on Jan. 9 at Buchanan. First year head coach Greg Clark praised the play of Berry, who scored 21 points in the game and averages just over 13 on the season.
“She does such a good job controlling our team and she’s the player who really makes our team go,” said Clark, who moved from the Sacramento area to teach and coach at Clovis. “She’s good with the ball and we count on her to make good decisions.”
The win improved the Cougars to 11-6 on the season and provides momentum going forward.
“It’s obviously good to win a championship and it’s always a positive,” added Clark. “It’s a great momentum builder for our team headed into league.”
Clovis West football Caleb Kelly starts in high school all-American game
Fresh off being named the Dick Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker, Caleb Kelly made his national television debut by playing in the Army High School All-American football game in the West’s 39-9 victory over the East in the game played at the Alamodome in Alamo, Texas on Jan. 9.
Wearing his familiar No. 19 in front of 30 friends and family who made the trip, Kelly started the game at outside linebacker and made his impact early by registering three tackles.
Kelly has not yet declared where he will attend college, but is planning on a special ceremony on Feb. 3. He is down to three choices: Oregon, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.
Football legend Tim Simons steps down from coaching
Coach Tim Simons, the face of Clovis area football for so many years, stepped down as coach of Clovis North on Jan. 8. While not coming as a shock, the 74-year-old coach still coached with vigor and gusto and it’s still a blow to the Central Section.
Simons went 249-94-7 in 30 years of coaching, recently at Clovis North where he was in charge of the school’s first football program in 2009, but he will be most remembered for molding Clovis High into the premier football
program in the Valley, where he went 218-61-6 with 11 league championships and five section titles.
Simons, a 1959 graduate of Fresno High, also coached at Fresno State for seven years and two years at Fresno City College.
Buchanan football coach Mike Jacot resigns
The TRAC will be looking for their second coach next season as Mike Jacot, recently name TRAC Coach of the Year, suddenly resigned on Monday, Jan. 5, citing the need to spend more time with family, most notably, his young children.
Jacot, who was hired three years ago from Orange County’s Santa Margarita High, went 4-19 in his first two years but went 7-4 this season, including a co-TRAC championship shared with Clovis High at 4-1. They lost in the D-1 playoffs to Clovis North in the second round as a No. 4 seed.
Buchanan boys soccer and wrestling nationally ranked
According to maxpreps.com, the Buchanan boys soccer team (10-0-5) is currently ranked No. 17 in the nation and No. 2 in the state.
And listed on intermatwrestling.com, the Buchanan wrestling team has surged to an overall national ranking of No. 5 with five-time reigning California champion Clovis a spot below at No. 6.
And we’ve mentioned this a few times but mark down on your calendar Thursday, Jan. 28, when those two national powerhouses meet in their TRAC dual.