By Paul Meadors, March 25th, 2016.
The full transition has been made – with the Clovis West girls losing in the second round of the state basketball playoffs along with first round losses by the Clovis North boys basketball team, and the Clovis East girls and Buchanan boys soccer teams, it’s now time for all Spring sports to leap forward. (See what I did there? Are we all recovered from losing that precious hour of sleep? Me neither.)
The great part about all of this? By the time Easter Break is over we’ll be ready to officially start TRAC play in all sports which include baseball, softball, boys volleyball, track and field, boys tennis, swimming and diving and finally…drum roll please…badminton.
And believe me, this is going to be an exciting Spring season in Clovis. For example, Buchanan and Clovis baseball teams are ranked No. 2 and 4 respectively in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, the CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships are being held again at Clovis West May 20-21 and the CIF State Track and Field Championships at beautiful Veterans Memorial Stadium June 3-4.
In the meantime, check out all the happenings Around the TRAC:
Clovis North basketball falls in state playoffs
Clovis North’s basketball season came to an end on March 11 as they traveled to Redondo Union, Cal-Hi Sports No. 11 ranked team in the state, and lost 86-73 in the D-1 State Championship Playoffs.
The Broncos, led by a monster game from senior guard Jahvon Johnsonand his 28 points, fell behind 19-8 in the first quarter before clawing back and making it a six point game at 60-66 with seven minutes left in the game.
But, the surge was quickly thwarted when the Sea Hawks (23-7) scored six straight for a 72-60.
“We definitely had our chances,” said Broncos head coach Tony Amundsen. “They are a very good team and they were the team that hit big shots down the stretch to separate from us a little.
We were able to break their press and get the shots that we wanted. We got hurt on the offensive boards a little bit. We didn’t get to their shooters quick enough.”
Case in point: 6-foot-8 center Wesley Gilbert pulled down 13 rebounds and shooting guard Morgan Means scored 17.
Redondo Union participated in the Southern Section Open Division (the Central Section does not carry its own Open Division) and lost in the second round, thus being placed in D-1 for the state playoffs.
Amundsen praised the play of Johnson, calling him “an absolute stud.” The 6-foot-3 guard has verbally committed to Cal State Monterey Bay for a full ride athletic scholarship.
Despite ending the season with two straight losses, the Broncos have placed themselves on the Central Section map, and Amundsen knows the best is yet to come.
“I was impressed with the improvement from last year to this year, we made another jump as a program,” continued Amundsen. “I am very proud of how our guys battled in every practice and game. I am most proud of the growth our players have made as they become men.”
It’s tennis time for defending champs Clovis West
The boys tennis TRAC started off with a whopper when Clovis North visited Clovis West, the defending Valley champs.
New head coach Neil Castro is excited about the potential of the Golden Eagles season, as they return four of their top six players. Front loading their pre-season schedule help prepare for the rugged TRAC season.
“We have had a couple of good wins against Bullard and Stockdale so far this season, so we are headed in the right direction,” said Castro. “These matches definitely are a good test for us for when we have to play Clovis North and the other TRAC schools.”
Castro points to No. 1 singles player Addison Weil, Jacob Vander Beekand Robbie Ellis as the glue of the team.
“Addison is a quiet leader but his focus during matches really sets the tone for the other guys,” says Castro. “Jacob is a very talented player who has a lot of weapons and does a great job bringing energy during team play. And Robbie does great job competing in matches for every ball and point.”
But in the first matchup in TRAC play, Clovis North came out swinging for the fences so to speak. They beat Clovis West 7-2 led by the No. 1 singles player in the Valley, Bronco junior Daly Meinert, who defeated Weil 6-0, 6-0.
Even Ellis knows the challenge that lies ahead in beating Clovis North but likes the way the team has come together.
“We’ve talked many times about this as a team but we definitely want to win Valley this year,” said Ellis, who’s sister Janie won the Valley singles title in the fall. “The competition will be tough with Clovis North but we are going to work hard to get there.”
The Golden Eagles recovered after their Clovis North loss to win the Fairfield Classic on March 18-19.
Clovis East girls soccer lose in state playoffs in successful season
The magical season of the Clovis East girls soccer team came to a bitter end on March 7 when the Timberwolves lost 5-3 to Taft of Los Angeles in the opening round of the D-1 state playoffs played at Clovis East.
Clovis East was seed No. 1 in the Southern Section largely due to their undefeated record at 20-0-3 but ran into the Los Angeles City Section champs who didn’t play like a No. 8 seed.
Coach Jasara Gillette knew her team had the fight in them.
“We made some mistakes early that put us behind but then were able to power through and tie,” said Gillette. “It was rough to fight back and have them score two back to back. Even though we went down we kept fighting to score until the last whistle.”
The Timberwolves played the role of the comeback kids all season, including all three Central Section playoff games en route to a Valley title, but there would be no pixie dust sprinkled on the field this game.
After falling behind 0-1 and 1-3 there was a ray of hope as junior Nikki Crouch’s goal late in the 59th minute tied the game at three goals a piece. But, any momentum was quickly dispersed as Taft scored two goals in a 5-minute span.
Ariah Cheng and Catalina Phe also scored goals for the Timberwolves.
The silver lining for Clovis East (besides winning a TRAC and D-1 title) is that they return most of this year’s team including Crouch and classmatePeyton Kwalwasser.
“I think Clovis East soccer has been building over the past years and with a young team and a great feeder program from Reyburn and our elementary schools, I feel CE will be competitive for years to come,” said Gillette. “The whole team is competitive so losing is never fun but I think there was so much to be proud of for the season.”
At the time of the playoff game, Clovis East was ranked No. 8 in the nation according to topdrawersoccer.com
Buchanan falls in state soccer playoffs
A game decided by penatly kicks is a team’s worst nightmare – especially a game as important as a state playoff game.
Unfortunately for the boys from Buchanan a 2-2 tie in regulation and a scoreless overtime period forced the dreaded kicks, where anything can happen.
And it did – as the No. 1 seeded Bears (20-2-7) were bounced once again from the D-1 state playoffs, this time by the No. 6 seeded Los Alamitos in penalty kicks 5-4.
Jacob Rudolph and Oliver Dolberg scored both of Buchanan’s goals during regulation.
Buchanan’s Jacob Wilson leads state in discus
Buchanan’s Jacob Wilson had a meet to remember on March 19 as the junior tossed a state leading and national No. 3 discus throw of 194-01 at the Gateway To Track and Field Invitational held at Buchanan High School.