Hoop there it is; Your boys basketball league preview
With non-league games and tournaments in the rear view mirror, let’s hunker down and take a look at all five Clovis boys teams as we approach league – team strengths, players to watch and video highlights galore.
Clovis West junior guard Cole Anderson is averaging 28 points per game for the 15-3 Golden Eagles. (Photo by Ron Itzkoff)
Last year Clovis West and Clovis North gave us epic games, a buzzer-beating three by Sammy Al-Saber lifted the Broncos to a win at home before the Golden Eagles trounced them 75-52 in Round 2. Then Clovis West stunned the Broncos 66-63 in OT on their way to a D-I Central Section title after being down 14 at half at home in the semis. Well, the calendar’s flipped to 2020 so buckle up fans when those two teams kick off an exciting season of TRAC basketball on Friday, Jan. 10 at Clovis North.
And on the East side the Timberwolves boast a talented group of seniors, poised to make a serious run after a strong non-league schedule. And oh my, talk about a gauntlet — in Week 2 the Timberwolves play at Clovis North and Clovis West.
Clovis and Buchanan both come in with 10 wins and are not going to back down from anyone, you can count on that.
With a combined record of 69-31, league promises to be a knock-down drag-out every night. On any given night you’ll witness Clovis West’s Cole Anderson’s smooth shooting stroke, Clovis East’s Jermal Pittman slashing to the rim and Clovis North’s 6-foot-7 Terri Miller patrolling the key like a beast. Add in the scoring machine that is Clovis’ Cal Stilson and the fiery play of Buchanan’s Charlie Barnes and you have the ingredients for wild ten games … and beyond.
Like we said — buckle up, this is gonna be fun.
Here is a quick breakdown of each team:
Clovis West (15-3)
Coach Vance Walberg
Breaking it down: The defending D-I Central Section champs continue their winning ways under coach Vance Walberg now in Year 4. Playing in high-level tournaments and showcase games up and down the state, they won the NorCal Tip-Off and placed third at the Modesto Christian Holiday Tournament. The offense runs through shooter extraordinaire Cole Anderson (28 ppg, 4.5 three pointers per game), largely considered one of the top juniors on the west coast. Max Phillips, at 6-foot-4, can finish around the rim to the tune of 12 ppg, shooting an astounding 68% from the floor. At 5-foot-4, senior guard Jarren Carr (10 ppg) is fun to watch and junior Ryas Vang does a lot of little things to help the team win. The team has been bolstered with the addition of junior guard Preston Kilbert, a San Joaquin Memorial transfer.
Bottom line: With arguably the best player in section in the 6-foot-4 Anderson, the defending D-I champs are primed for another run towards a title with Coach Walberg’s signature dribble drive offense and pressure defense.
Signature win: 91-65 over Modesto Christian on Dec. 12.
Clovis North (12-5)
Coach Tony Amundsen
Breaking it down: The Broncos are balanced with good shooters, hustling defense and a strong inside game. Featuring 6-foot-7 senior Terri Miller (15 ppg, 9 rebounds) and 6-foot-5 junior AK Okereke (15 ppg, 6 rebounds) they have a win over Clovis West, a buzzer-beating put-back from Miller to win the Clovis West Nike Tournament. In addition, Miller is shooting 55% from the floor and Okereke 58%, including an impressive 79% at the free throw line. Senior guards Malachai Henry (13 ppg) and Sammy Al-Saber (9 ppg) provide outside shooting for Tony Amundsen’s squad. Among their five losses, three were in San Diego by a combined total of nine points.
Signature win: 63-62 over Clovis West on Dec. 14.
Bottom line: As good a squad as any in the section, the Broncos have a plethora of options on offense and one of the top front courts in the section with Miller and Okereke.
Clovis East (12-4)
Coach Adrian Wiggins
Breaking it down: With a solid core group that’s extremely balanced, the Timberwolves are primed for a great run through league and playoffs after winning the Las Vegas Tourney, placing second at the KAS Tournament in Orlando, Fla, and fifth at the tough Modesto Christian Holiday Tournament. Senior Jermal Pittman, a high flying guard, is the team’s leading scorer at 22 a game including three games of 30 or more while shooting an amazing 62% from the floor. Coach Wiggins’ senior son, Will (12 ppg, 4.5 assists), is a tough-minded, do-it-all point guard while sophomore Cam Thompson chips in with 10 points per game. And those great shooters – senior Tyler Pacheco (10 ppg) and junior transfer Tommy Newton (9 ppg) have combined for 82 3-pointers on the season.
Signature win: Vanden 52-51 at Modesto Tourney Dec. 30
Bottom line: Armed with a talented and cohesive core group of players, the Timberwolves are hungry and dangerous with Jerman Pittman emerging as one of the top players in the section.
Coach Jon Heinz
Breaking it down: Led by senior guard Cal Stilson (22 ppg) the Cougars enter league with double digit wins, staying mostly in the Central Section during the non-league schedule. Second-year coach Jon Heinz’s team lacks height but makes up for it with an offense that shoots a barrage of three-pointers. A pair of playmaking sophomore guards in Diego Celaya and Ashlan Morris are making an impact, and came into their own at the Clovis Elks Tournament, averaging 14 and 13 points respectively. Heinz is expecting D’Andre Scott and Matt Adesanmi to contribute after missing multiple games to injury.
Signature win: Lemoore 97-79 to win Immanuel Tournament Dec. 6
Bottom line: Overall young but hungry, the perimeter-minded Cougars will rely on senior Cal Stilson for scoring and leadership.
Coach Brooks Malm
Breaking it down: Under first year coach Brooks Malm the Bears are relentless on defense, allowing opponents an average of 51 points per game. Senior guard Charlie Barnes, a three-year varsity player, is the focus of the offense, averaging 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. With only four rostered players over six-feet tall, Buchanan combats their lack of height by relying on pressure defense. Malm says it’s a blue collar group that prides itself putting team before self.
Signature win: Edison 54-40 at the Clovis West Nike Invitational Nov. 26
Bottom line: The Bears hope to stay in games with a hard nosed defensive game plan and the senior play of Charlie Barnes.