A year ago, Chavez High of Delano struggled at the Clovis Elks boys basketball tournament, losing three games in the 2018 edition.
Yet, with the new year comes new hope for the Titans, who defeated the host Clovis High Cougars 77-64 in Friday night’s quarterfinal round of the 2019 Clovis Elks tournament. With the win, Chavez advances to play Lincoln High in Saturday’s semifinals.
Chavez stymied Clovis from the opening tip with fierce, man-to-man pressure on defense, forcing tough shots and turnovers from the Cougars all night.
“I think we did not share the ball offensively like we needed to,” Clovis head coach John Heinz said. “[Chavez] is fast and physical… it’s a joy to watch, just not against us.”
Against such pressure, the Cougars only made four shots in the first eight minutes, falling behind Chavez 20-9 in the first quarter.
The offensive struggles soon became a double-edged sword for Clovis.
“You feel good about playing defense when you’re scoring, but when you don’t score, then your defense suffers,” Heinz said.
The Titans extended their lead in the second quarter, as the defending South Sequoia League co-champions shot well beyond the arc. Junior guard Fernando Carranza hit three of Chavez’s six three-pointers in the first half.
Carranza had 21 points before halftime, guiding Chavez to a 40-24 lead.
Clovis has better luck scoring once halftime ended, as Cal Stilson scored 21 of his team-high 23 points in the second half – including 15 in the fourth quarter alone.
It would be too little, too late, as the Cougars could never get out of the hole they dug themselves in early.
Carranza added 10 points in the second half to finish with a game-high total of 31, leading Chavez to a double-digit victory and ensuring a spot in the tournament winners’ bracket.
As for Clovis, they are relegated to the consolation bracket and face Hoover High Saturday, but the goal for the 2019 Clovis Elks goes beyond winning for the Cougars.
“The whole purpose of pre-season tournaments is to get better and have young guys get lots of minutes against quality opponents,” Heinz said. “Those young guys are going to help us out in league play, and that’s when we want to be good.”