With clearly best two teams in TRAC boys basketball clashing to begin league play, it only figures that the game be an epic overtime thriller, right?
The answer to that was a resounding yes in the Clovis West Golden Eagles’ 75-67 victory over the Clovis North Broncos on the road to begin the TRAC season.
Clovis West had to fight extremely hard just to get to the extra frame, though. The Golden Eagles offense was lethargic, and it hurt them on the scoreboard.
Only eight points scored in the first period meant that the talent-laden Broncos would take a 24-8 lead into the second on the strength of 10 points from Malachi Henry.
“We have struggled a lot this year getting behind,” Golden Eagles head coach Vance Walhberg said. “I feel like they just worked harder than we did.”
Well, the Golden Eagles changed all of that to begin the second period, scoring nine straight points to make it 24-17 halfway through the quarter.
The Broncos were careless with the ball, turning it over multiple times to fuel transition baskets for the Golden Eagles, including from guard Jarren Carr and Max Philips, and before anyone could blink, Clovis West had cut the deficit to four, the closest the team had been since it trailed 4-0 early in the first quarter.
And at halftime, the Broncos led just 30-25, an ominous sign given that the Golden Eagles’ star guard Cole Anderson had yet to find a rhythm. Anderson had 11 points at the break, a low total given his lofty standards.
Carr, Phillips and company helped pick up the slack while Anderson searched to find his shot.
Carr had nine of his 14 points in the third to keep the Golden Eagles afloat, all coming on three-pointers.
Still, after three quarters Clovis West still trailed 54-45, needing their star to pick up his play and bring the game home.
Anderson knew it too.
“I knew in my mind I had to take over,” Anderson said. “My teammates helped me get the ball and coach had plays for us.”
After the game was tied at 65 at the end of regulation after a 20-11 quarter in favor of Clovis West, Anderson got ultra-aggressive in overtime.
So aggressive, in fact, that he accounted for the whole of his team’s offense.
With mid-range jump shots, drives to the basket and free throws, Anderson scored 10 in overtime en route to a game-high 27 to carry the Golden Eagles home, a victory that seemed improbable just an hour earlier.
Clovis West now sits at 16-3 overall and 1-0 in TRAC, while the Broncos are 12-6 and 0-1.
Both teams will resume action Tuesday when the Golden Eagles take on the Central High Grizzlies at home, while the Broncos host the Clovis East Timberwolves.