Around the TRAC: The Latest in Central Section, State Playoffs

The Buchanan boys’ swim & dive team won the school’s first ever CIF title in the sport, part of an action-packed week around the TRAC. (Courtesy of Buchanan Athletics)

How fast has the whirlwind of high school sports traveled this spring?

On March 18, Central and Clovis High informally kicked off the Central Section high school sports season with an intense, back-and-forth football game at Lamonica Stadium. There were sporting events prior to that, but the memorable Cougars-Grizzlies battle served as the watershed “Sports are back” moment in Clovis.

Since then, there has been a full football season and regular seasons for baseball, basketball (boys and girls), softball and soccer (boys and girls), among other sports.

All in the span of two and a half months. 77 days, to be exact.

This sprint of a high school sports season is nearing the home stretch as the calendar turns to June, with Central Section playoffs underway in basketball and CIF state playoffs in soccer. Baseball and softball section playoffs will start next week. Tennis and swim & dive have already crowned their Valley champions, nearly all hailing from Clovis.

It’s time to get caught up on the happenings around the Tri-River Athletic Conference:

Clovis East, Clovis boys’ basketball finish seasons in first round of D-I playoffs

Clovis East began its defense of the 2020 Division-I boys’ basketball title with a home playoff game against Edison on Wednesday, a team they defeated in the first round last year en route to the championship.

But the magic of the 2020 Timberwolves squad disappeared amidst a sea of arms on defense, as the more athletic No. 6 seed Edison Tigers utilized a 2-3 zone to befuddle No. 3 Clovis East and earn a 68-52 win.

“They were active, they were quick and they were a little longer, so it disrupted a lot of our passes,” Clovis East head coach Adrian Wiggins said. “We have to give them credit. They performed well tonight.”

Edison received most of its offensive production from the trio of Kuman Chandler, Jeremiah Hannah and Tyrece Fairley. Chandler scored a team-high 18 points, while Hannah and Fairley each scored 16.

“Edison‘s offense really gave us trouble,” Wiggins said. “They got a lot of second shots. They scored on the interior and on the perimeter. We pretty much scored our average tonight, but we just couldn’t stop them defensively.”

Edison led 30-26 at halftime, but Clovis East tied the game at 38 midway through the third quarter. Sensing his players were getting tired, Edison head coach Jervis Cole called a timeout.

“I just wanted to make sure they got their composure back,” Cole said. “At halftime, we discussed that we were probably going to take a punch in the face a couple times, so we had to make sure that we stayed within our game.”

Edison went on a 9-0 run after that, taking control of the game and punching its ticket for the Division-I semifinals. Edison (7-8) will play the winner of Buchanan-Bullard, which is slated for Friday.

Clovis East ends its season with a 7-10 record, 4-6 in league play.

Also on Wednesday, No. 9 seed Clovis High lost at No. 8 Mission Prep, 61-51, ending the Cougars’ season with a 3-13 record, 1-9 in league play. Mission Prep will travel to No. 1 Central on Friday.

TRAC champion Clovis West was placed in the boys’ basketball Open Division as the No. 3 seed, playing at No. 2 St. Joseph’s on Friday. Clovis North, who finished runner-up to Clovis West in league play, is the No. 4 seed and plays at top seed San Joaquin Memorial.

Buchanan opens Division-I girls’ basketball playoffs with convincing win

Buchanan bounced back from its four-game losing streak in resounding fashion, routing Bullard in the first round of the Division-I girls’ basketball playoffs, 78-42.

The No. 1 seed Bears were led in scoring by Ashtyn Arnold, who scored the 1,000th point of her career in a 17-point effort. Aloni Oliver scored 15 points, Alina Garcia added 11 and Ciena Tumoine chipped in nine.

No. 8 Bullard was led by a game-high 18 points from Grizzle Jones.

Buchanan awaits the winner of Bakersfield-Clovis North, slated for Thursday, in the semifinals.

TRAC champion and state No. 3 Clovis West is the top seed in the girls’ basketball Open Division and hosts Arroyo Grande on Thursday. Clovis High earned the 3rd seed in Open Division and drew Caruthers for their semifinal matchup.

Clovis boys, Buchanan girls advance in state soccer playoffs

The Central Section boys and girls’ soccer champions, Clovis and Clovis North, were selected in the Division-I SoCal regional bracket for state playoffs. The girls’ runner-up, Buchanan, earned a spot in the SoCal Division-II bracket as well.

No. 2 seed Clovis North fell to No. 7 Pacifica at home in its first round match, 1-0 , ending its season Tuesday. Buchanan, on the other hand, battled to a 3-3 tie with Saugus through regulation and overtime, resulting in penalty kicks.

The Bears won the penalty shootout 4-3, punching their ticket to the state semifinals where they host Downey on Thursday.

On the same Tuesday night that the Buchanan girls were fighting for their soccer life, the Clovis High boys were doing the same.

No. 4 seed Clovis struck first with a goal from Xandro Chavez in the 23rd minute, but No. 5 Loyola tied it in the 59th minute. The Cougars nearly scored the game-winner in regulation, but it was called offsides.

That led to a scoreless overtime and ensuing penalty kicks, where senior captain Steven Randall netted the game-winning PK. The Cougars now travel to No. 1 seed Birmingham on Thursday for the state semifinals.

Clovis North wins team tennis titles, boys’ doubles title

Clovis North swept the boys and girls’ team tennis championships and extended its dominance in the sport in the process.

The boys’ team defeated Buchanan in the team Central Section final on May 26, 6-0, making it five Section titles in a row for the Bronco boys. The girls’ team won their fifth team title in a row the next day, as they dispatched Garces in a closer match, 5-4.

In the singles and doubles championships on May 28 and 29, Clovis North’s Kristina Lee won the girls’ singles final against teammate Fiona Yao, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Clovis East’s Vraj Patel did not drop a set throughout the entire boys’ singles tournament, dominating the final against Centennial’s Brett Yackovich, 6-0, 6-2, to win a Central Section title.

The Clovis North boys’ doubles duo of Drew Quall and Caleb Shin won the Central Section championship without dropping a set along the way either. They defeated Castro/Nishimire of Clovis West in the final, 6-4, 6-1. It is Quall’s third straight Valley title with a different partner.

Buchanan, Clovis North take Central Section swim & dive championships

The Buchanan boys and Clovis North girls both won team titles at the Central Section swim & dive championships on May 29.

It was Buchanan’s first team swim & dive title in school history.

Buchanan junior Colby Hatton turned heads with a 19.96 preliminary time in the 50-yard freestyle, setting a TRAC and Section record as well as earning Hatton Automatic All-American honors.

Hatton’s blazing preliminary run didn’t end there. His 44.47 in the 100-yard freestyle broke a 28-year old Section record.

Overall, Hatton took home four Valley championships in the pool, in the 50-yard free, 100-yard free, 200-yard free relay and 400-yard free relay.

Clovis North earned big points with wins in the girls’ 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay. Junior Charlize Phillips won a pair of individual Valley championships in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly. She also swam the first leg of the 400-yard relay.

Clovis High boys win league track and field championship

Clovis High edged Buchanan in the boys’ scores, 130-128, and captured the TRAC track & field championship on May 28.

“Took 15 years, but we did it,” Clovis track coach E.J. Jackson said in a tweet. “Great job to all the athletes, coaches and administrators.”

The Clovis boys emerged as champions of the toughest track & field league in California, according to PrepCalTrack, with 72 “Elite Marks” achieved at the TRAC championship. The next closest league had 54.

Clovis overcame not only perennial track & field power Buchanan, but also a dominant showing in the sprint events from Central. Cameron Traver won the league title in the 100-meter dash, breaking the school record with a time of 10.53. Jeremiah Walker won the 200 and 400-meter dash at league championships, with times of 21.11 and 48.22, respectively.

Central’s boys’ 4×100-meter relay team also placed first at the league meet, clocking a time of 41.58. The Grizzlies placed third overall in the standings with 119 points.

Buchanan won the girls’ TRAC track & field championship with 202 points, finishing ahead of second-place Clovis North (122 points).

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.