It’s hard to keep a champion down for good. Just ask the Arroyo Grande Eagles.
After falling behind early on, the defending Valley basketball champion Clovis West Golden Eagles came back with a vengeance to defeat the Arroyo Grande Eagles 63-54 in the first ever CIF Central Section open division semifinal game.
Arroyo Grande jumped out ahead 16-6 in the first quarter due to an uncharacteristically slow start on the offensive end of the floor from Clovis West.
Taking advantage for the Eagles were Tyler Armstrong and Gage Gomez. The duo combined for 14 points in the first period alone leading to a 17-9 advantage heading into the second.
Golden Eagles star guard Cole Anderson put together a solid first half to keep his team in the game, pouring in 12 points and going into the break, it was only a 26-25 game in favor of Arroyo Grande.
But in the third period, Anderson and the rest of the Golden Eagles got hot, using a full-court pressure style defense to disrupt Arroyo Grande and fuel their own offense.
Anderson put in another six points in the quarter en route to 23 total, but it was Jarren Carr who provided the difference-making offensive spark for the Golden Eagles. Carr scored 10 of his 15 points in the third period with a combination of strong drives to the basket for layups and the ability to convert free throws.
What caused the offensive explosion for Carr? How about some good old fashioned hard coaching from coach Vance Wahlberg.
“I got scolded because I was missing a lot in the first half so I had to come out and show coach I can make it for real,” Carr said.
All told, Clovis West scored 24 points in the quarter, nearly as much as they did in the first half to take a commanding 49-40 lead with eight minutes left to play.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles continued to tighten the screws, allowing only 14 points to secure the victory and a spot in next Saturday’s championship game at Selland Arena against San Joaquin Memorial.
Wahlberg said he knows that if his team doesn’t come with intensity and execution in that contest, no matter who it’s against, they could go home disappointed.
“If we play like we did tonight we’re going to be in trouble, I’ll tell you that right now,” he said. “It’s going to be a heck of a final.”