Around the TRAC: Following the bouncing ball all over the Valley and state and abroad

The Clovis North girls basketball team won the Oakmont Invite in Roseville with a 59-44 win over Foothill. Freshman Savannah Tucker won MVP honors for the 5-2 Bronco as did Jordyn Brown. [Contributed Photo]
You guys feel that Christmas hustle and bustle yet? You know, those moments when you’re running around looking for that perfect gift for someone special, worrying about what to get Aunt Judy (perhaps a dog sweater?), your anxiety level reaching defcon 4 looking for a parking space. Fun times – let me tell ‘ya. Well, hopefully that hasn’t hit you quite yet – online shopping can work miracles for your mental health I’ve heard.

And while we are still in shock by how fast Thanksgiving came and went and the speed when those festive decorations went up all around us, our local basketball teams were already hitting the hardwood all around the state with one nationally ranked team (Clovis West girls, ranked No. 9 by USA Today) traveling 2,457 miles across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.  

December 10 was a good day for our locals as the Clovis North boys and girls won tournaments  as did the Clovis West boys and Clovis High girls. And there’s more than just a new Star Wars movie (yep, confirmed, I’m a nerd) coming out the weekend of Dec. 16, many teams are headed back for more tournaments and showcases including a tasty four days of boys basketball at Clovis West in the Nike North Valley vs South Valley Shootout.

I’ll be there with bells on (not literally because that would be pretty awkward).

Ben Avera has record scoring night for Clovis North

OK, so it’s your senior year, you’re six-foot-six and a lean, mean, scoring machine and you’ve been itching to get on the court for your first game of the season – a home game no less. What would be the absolute perfect way to start out the season? A team win of course. Perhaps a dunk! Maybe 20 points and a handful of rebounds? That would pretty neat right?

Well, whatever Ben Avera dreamed the night before Clovis North’s opening tournament game against De Anza, it couldn’t have been more eye-popping as his display on Dec. 4 in a 97-35 victory.

Avera dazzled his way to a school-record 41 points, including the first 14 of the game in a span of 2:15 seconds with four three-pointers and a layup. He made eight 3s in all in 11 attempts.

When the shots are fallin’ you keep on callin’.

“I didn’t realize how well I was shooting the ball,” said Avera, who pointed out that it wasn’t until teammate Dom Reyes told him during a De Anza timeout how many points he had. “I think at that point I decided to just let it fly. My teammates did a great job of finding me on the fastbreak and in the half court set. There’s no way I would have scored as many points as I did without them setting me up. A lot of credit for my performance should go to them.”

If fact, Avera could have scored at least 50 but he only played around four minutes in the third quarter and sat out the entire fourth. What could have been – no one will quite know but the night will be long remembered.

Young Clovis North girls basketball team wins Oakmont Invite

There’s a youth movement over at Clovis North in regards to their girls’ basketball program. And one would think there would be some growing pains when you regularly start two freshmen and two sophomores.

But, the early returns are in, and the Broncos, under head coach Heather Walberg-Long, are off to a 5-2 start which includes winning the Oakmont Invite in Roseville. Led by tournament MVP and freshman Savannah Tucker, Clovis North tore through three games and beat Foothill 59-44 in the championship game. Jordyn Brown, a junior, made six threes in the game.

“I am really proud of our young team for how hard they are playing and how well they are playing together,” said Long, also pointing out that junior Brown made all-tournament. Longs said that Rowan Hein (freshman), Taylor Pilot (sophomore) and Grace Webb (sophomore) played great during the tournament.  

The Broncos play in the Acalanes Tournament Dec. 15-17 and the Tournament of Champions in Santa Barbara Dec. 20-23.

Clovis High girls basketball off to 8-1 start, win tournament

The girls in blue and gold of Clovis High, not to be left behind by their TRAC counterparts, has started off the season quite well with a record of 8-1, winning the Rumble on the River tournament in River City on Dec. 10. The rolled their way with victories over Cordova 75-39, Valley 70-20 and the host River City 70-42 in the championship game.

Taylor Correa was named tournament MVP and Rachel and Michelle Berry were named to the all-tournament team. Rachel, a senior, has committed to play at Fresno Pacific University next season.

“It’s nice to win a tournament early in the season but we have a lot of work to do,” said head coach Greg Clark, the second-year coach of the Cougars. “The girls are learning and getting better each day.”

Clark notes that they have only had two full days of practice with the entire team due to some players participating in fall sports. “It will be nice to play at home the next couple of weeks and get some practice time in to improve,” added Clark.

The Cougars will play in the Buchanan tournament starting on Dec. 27.

Buchanan boys lose to Central in championship game in Stockton

One of the main reasons teams like to play in tournaments is so they can see how they measure up against opponents outside their area, especially those in league. Well, Buchanan kept winning and winning and winning and found themselves in the championship game of the McDonald’s Classic in Stockton against a familiar foe – Central High of the TRAC.

The Bears started the season off with five straight wins, three in the 16-team tournament with wins over Tokay 69-61, Cordova 88-84 and Rio Linda 75-71 before losing to Central 72-67, the defending Division I Central Section champion.

Against Tokay junior Spencer Heimerdinger scored 16 with seven rebounds and five blocks and senior Tyree Leggett scored 28. In the Cordova game Leggett had 34, sophomore Jonah Crumpton-Murray 22 and Heimerdinger had a double-double with 16 and 12, then put up a 28 and 12 against Rio Linda.

In the Central game, Heimerdinger had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Leggett scored 18, both making the all-tournament team.

The Bears will play in the Rocklin Holiday Tournament on Dec. 15 and the Garces Memorial Holiday Hoops Challenge on Dec. 27.

All-TRAC volleyball

Player of the Year: Taylen Ballard – Clovis

Co-Coach of the Year: Randy Burriss – Central, Rhonda DeRuiter – Clovis West

Clovis West: Micah Hebert (sr), Tiersa Bailey (sr), Sarah Armendariz (sr)

Central: Makayla Lewis (soph), Maya Riddlesprigger (sr)

Clovis: Keri Leake (sr)

Clovis East: Jocelyn Rodriguez (sr)

Buchanan: Myca Mitchell (sr)

All-TRAC football

Player of the Year: Adrian Martinez, Clovis West

Offensive Player of the Year: Trent Tompkins, Central

Defensive Player of the Year; DJ Schramm

Linemen of the Year: Sam Satele, Central

Specialist of the Year: Rodney Wright, Clovis West

Coach of the Year: Kyle Biggs, Central

Clovis West: Clive Truschel, Boaz Khajavi, Dusty Schramm, Isaiah Garcia

Clovis: Spencer Smith, Samir Allen, Clayton Alexander, Tyson Fraser

Clovis North: Brent Bailey, Chad Fugman, Mark Halajian, John Halajian

Clovis East: Marcus Washington

Buchanan: Ryan Bacon, Logan Fogg, Zach Presno, Ardie Burton

Central: Matt Mendoza, Jaylon Johnson, Jaden Williams, Adrian Lopez Jr., Brandon Ballard, Malik White, Jacob Torrez