By Paul Meadors and Daniel Leon
With Christmas vacation way, way, way in the review mirror and spring about to be sprung this is the time of year when our wrestling, soccer and basketball programs make their mark in Clovis lore.
We all know about Clovis West girls basketball and their quest for a fourth straight Valley title and lofty national and state rankings. And surely you’ve kept up with the great rivalry between the Clovis High and Buchanan wrestling programs, with Clovis preparing to defend their state title and claim a fifth consecutive one in the process.
And how ’bout that Clovis East girls soccer team and their undefeated season so far? But did you know that the Buchanan girls soccer team lost their bid for a fifth straight Valley title when they were beat by Clovis 1-0 in the second round of playoffs? Don’t you know the story of the Clovis North boys basketball team winning their first TRAC title and gaining the No. 1 seed? Pretty cool stuff if you ask me.
So check out the way cool stories splashed all around the sports section of the Clovis Roundup……and in the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what’s going on Around the TRAC.
Division I girls soccer playoffs: Clovis East battles back late vs. Central to advance to semifinals
By Daniel Leon
The Clovis East girls soccer team (18-0-3) preserved its undefeated season with a 4-2 win over Central Saturday in Central Section Division I quarterfinals match that came down to a second extra period.
“I think that it’s kind of the story of our season where we come out and aren’t quite in it,” Clovis East head coach Jasara Gillette said. “But it really shows their desire to be able to not give up with their backs against the wall. They’re going to fight until the last moment and they do. They truly believe that they can do this and so it’s never finished for them.”
The ninth-seeded Grizzlies got up 2-0 early behind shots from Ashtyn Bracamonte and Megan Galvan but Carissa Wight found the back of the net late to cut the lead to one heading into halftime. The Timberwolves answered with a goal from sophomore Catalina Villegas late in the second period to tie the game at 2-2 and move the game to an extra period.
“Central came out to play and definitely gave us a run for our money,” Gillette said. “But I think in the end, our girls really wanted it and you could just tell. They have that determination and it’s been there all season. To be down two goals and come back says something about our team.”
But it took more than an extra period to settle this quarterfinals affair. The match moved to a second extra period, where the T-Wolves broke the tie with a follow up from junior Mia Castillo to take a 3-2 lead.
“I knew my teammate Catalina [Villegas] was going to hit the shot, so I had to follow,” Castillo said. “I was hoping the goalie would bobble it so I could get something on it and as she bobbled it, I took a touch with my foot. It hit back off of her and as I tripped, I kind of headed it in.”
Moments later, Clovis East midfielder Catalina Phe delivered another goal for the T-Wolves to seal the 4-2 win.
“We’re a good team but it seems we work better under pressure,” Castillo said. “This was the highest pressure situation we’ve been in. We knew if we didn’t win, then we’re out and no one wanted the season to end today.”
The Timberwolves continue their quest for a Valley title Tuesday when they take on No. 4 seed Frontier (15-5-3) in the semifinals. The Titans are coming in off a 2-1 quarterfinals win over Liberty.
“Every game matters,” Gillette said. “We need to do the things to take care of our bodies right now so that we’re prepared but ultimately they’re all soccer games, so there’s not a different game plan.
“We come out to play soccer, so we’re just going to go through the same things we’ve been going through all season and continuing that momentum and just really understanding that every game matters. It’s do or die right now.”
A day to remember for Clovis West’s Adrian Martinez
When Adrian Martinez woke up on Feb. 12, he had no idea what kind of glorious day was in store for him.
The sophomore starting varsity quarterback and starting forward on the basketball team had a home basketball game that night against Clovis East. But a call from a local football coach took his morning from groggy to great in less than three seconds.
The rocket armed and super speedy 16-year-old received his first D1 offer – and it’s a doozy – the Fresno State Bulldogs.
“I was definitely caught off guard by the scholarship offer from [Fresno State] Coach DeRuyter, but it was a pleasant surprise,” said Martinez. “I was called into [Clovis West] Coach Petrissans office and he said someone was going to call me. I picked up the phone once they called and Coach DeRuyter was on the other side telling me he wanted to offer me a full-ride scholarship.
He said I was a talented quarterback and they would love to meet my family and have me come down and meet the staff and get familiar. I can’t say enough good things about coach DeRuyter, he’s a great guy and I can’t wait to get to know him better.”
Martinez’s skill set is legit. One only has to watch his 2015 highlight video on hudl.com to find that out quickly. The offer from the Bulldogs is surely the first of many in his young career, and yet, there was still the basketball game to be played.
And sure enough, capping an already momentous day, in the closing seconds of the game and down a single point, Martinez drove the length of the court, pivoted at the free throw line, spun left, and sank a 10-foot shot for the win. Game over; the student section rushed the court.
“It has to be up there in the top days of my life,” said Martinez. “I’ve only lived 16 years and I hope to have more great days like that one but it was definitely a first time feeling the way I did. I hope everyone gets an opportunity to feel on top of the world like I did that day.”
And how did the Martinez family celebrate the day? By going home and getting a good night’s sleep. A good day well celebrated.
Buchanan still rolling in boys soccer
The nationally ranked Buchanan (17-1-7) boys team took care of business and won the TRAC, but the next level is winning the D1 Valley title. And they’ve started off in fine fashion after beating Clovis North 4-1 in the second round of the playoffs.
But it wasn’t without some anxious moments after the Bears and Broncos (8-10-4) were tied 1-1 at halftime.
But at the 43′ mark JT Arruda passed to Oliver Dolberg whose initial shot was blocked but Dolberg stuck with it and hammered the rebound home. Then the route was on when Stephan Morris finished a shot and Jacob Rudolph put one in the side of the net for the 4-1 at the 49′ mark.
The No. 1 Bears continued in the semi-finals against No. 4 Bullard on Tuesday, February 23.
Girls soccer finals guarantees a TRAC team
We all know the accolades of the Clovis East girls soccer team and their TRAC title, the state’s No. 2 and nation’s No. 13 ranking according to maxpreps.com. But one thing is for sure – the D1 title game on Saturday, Feb. 27 will feature at least one team from the TRAC.
The No. 1 ranked Clovis East faced No. 4 Frontier and No. 7 Clovis North took on No. 2 Clovis in the semi-finals.
Clovis North upset No. 3 Bullard 3-2 behind two goals from Riana Casteneda and a goal from Natalie Nurcanyan.
Spring is in the air so yeah, that means baseball
The Coca-Coca Baseball Classic is a biggie that runs all over the Central Section ending with the championship game at Clovis High on March 5 at 2 p.m. Yep, the same day as the State Wrestling Tournament in Bakersfield and the D1 finals at Selland Arena. Don’t you wish you could be everywhere on that date? I certainly do.
All of our TRAC schools are participating and with the weather promising to be gorgeous, it’s a perfect time to check out some early baseball.