Miller’s buzzer beater lifts Clovis North over Clovis West for Nike Invitational Title
Clovis North improves to 10-0 as the Broncos defeated Clovis West to win the Clovis West Nike Invitational as MVP AK Okereke scores 22 points.
Clovis North’s Terri Miller was in the right place at the right time, and the 6-foot-7, 240 pounder knew exactly what to do.
Miller’s left-handed put-back basket as time expired lifted the Broncos to a wild win over Clovis West 63-62 in front of a packed house to win the Clovis West Nike Invitational and improve to 10-0 on the season, setting off a celebration that extended to the Clovis North student section and offsetting a phenomenal performance from Golden Eagle guard Cole Anderson.
After eight lead changes in the game, Clovis West grabbed a 62-61 lead on Ryas Vang’s 3-pointer near the top of the key with 10.5 seconds remaining. But after Clovis North’s Sammy Al-Saber missed a shot just inside the free throw line, the ball bounced off the hands of multiple players before Miller snatched it out of the air and scored.
“At first we thought it was going to be a give-and-go to AK (AK Okreke) and he was going to attack, but it didn’t work out that well,” Miller said. “It just went up and I was like ‘I was going to get that board. I’m not going to lose this game.’”
Miller scored Clovis North’s last four point despite only scoring nine in the game. His left-handed, 7-foot hook-shot from the baseline gave Clovis North a 61-59 lead with 19 seconds remaining, a circus-type shot for the third year varsity player who can effortlessly shoot with either hand.
“It always feels good to get a win, but it feels really good to get a buzzer beater against our rivals,” Miller added. “It just feels really good.”
Each team came in 3-0 in the tournament and won out-of-section tournaments the weekend before. The two rivals will meet twice in league – on Jan. 10 at West and Jan. 28 at North – but Round 1 went to the Broncos. And then there’s always the potential to play each other in the playoffs.
“Two very talented teams that play very hard and have good players,” Clovis North coach Tony Amundsen said, who won back-to-back-to-back Central Section titles with Bullard in 2011, 2012 and 2013 before coaching the Broncos. “It was a fun game.”
Clovis North bolted out to a 16-8 first quarter lead but the Broncos had to withstand a standout performance from Clovis West’s Anderson, who earlier in the day received an offer from Washington State. The 6-foot-4 junior scored 19 points in the third quarter, erasing a 29-26 halftime deficit as the guard hit seven 3-pointers, finishing with 37 points.
Tournament MVP Okereke led the Broncos with 22 points while bookend forward David Opoku-Ababio chipped in with 10. After an Anderson 3-pointer with 2:13 left, Okereke’s three-point play tied the game at 59 after an assist from Malachi Henry.
“It was a team effort, every single one of my teammates chipped in tonight,” said Okereke, a 6-foot-5 junior. “The whole team helped us win tonight.”
Amundsen praises not only the work ethic of Okereke but his character off the court.
“AK (pronounced Ay-Kay) is steady for us – he holds everything together,” Amundsen said. “He’s a fantastic kid and a very good basketball player.”
Amundsen isn’t surprised with his team’s early success.
“I knew that we could be pretty good – I was more interested in how our chemistry and culture would be,” he said. “It’s been very good and that’s a reason why we are having so much success.”
Miller, Okereke and Malachi Henry made All-Tournament for the Broncos and Anderson, Max Phillips and Jarren Carr for Clovis West.
To reach the championship Clovis West beat Bullard 95-48, Modesto Christian 91-65 and San Joaquin Memorial 82-76. Clovis North beat Modesto Christian 66-61, Edison 77-65 and San Leandro 59-56.