Trey Carr was hurting.
But so was the rest of his team without him.
Tuesday was supposed to be a rest day for the Clovis West point guard, a chance for Carr to recover and recharge his batteries as Open Division playoffs loom a week away. Few else knew this, but during the latter half of league play, Carr has not been 100%. Far from it, actually.
“I think I pulled both of my groins in the Clovis North game [on Jan. 28],” Carr said. “So I’ve been battling that, and I’ve been sitting out for the past week and a half. Today I was planning on sitting out the whole game but my team needed me.”
The Clovis West Golden Eagles, winners of 11 straight entering Tuesday, faced an upset-minded Buchanan Bears squad that pushed them for a full 32 minutes. After dispatching Buchanan by 24 points at home last month, Clovis West found itself down by nine, 42-33, just three minutes into the third quarter.
That’s when Carr made the decision.
“I was gonna stay out if we had a good enough lead at halftime, like double digits, but it was a tight game,” Carr said. “I told my coach at halftime when we were walking out that if he needed me, then I was going in.
“Eventually I just told him I was going in because they needed me.”
The senior Carr served his invaluable role as Clovis West’s floor general, helping organize the attack that brought the Golden Eagles back. The offense hummed to the tune of 27 points in 11 minutes with Carr on the court, and although his box score only showed three points, Carr returning as the maestro of head coach Vance Walberg’s offense was the turning point in the Golden Eagles’ 60-54 victory.
“Not even a question,” Walberg agreed,
Clovis West improved its record to 27-1 and 9-0 in Tri-River Athletic Conference play and, maybe more importantly, held onto the No. 1 seed in the Open Division. If the Bears pulled off the upset, in a game in which they led 51-50 with five minutes left and trailed by only three in the final minute, the Golden Eagles might have lost the top spot to the surging St. Joseph Knights of Santa Maria.
St. Joseph finished its regular season Tuesday with an 89-49 win over Mission Prep, capping a 16-game winning streak that puts the Knights at 24-2 overall and 10-0 in Mission League play.
Thanks to the comeback win over Buchanan, Clovis West kept the No. 1 seed and all-important home-court advantage in a potential Central Section championship game against St. Joseph.
So, with seemingly a lot riding on the game Tuesday, a banged-up Carr gritted his teeth, checked into the ballgame, and provided a much-needed spark.
“He’s as tough of a kid that you’re gonna have, pound for pound,” Walberg said. “He gives you everything he’s got. He has the respect of all the coaches. That’s for dang sure.”