A team prepared is ready for any situation, and lately the Clovis North boys basketball team has come up with big plays in dramatic, nail-biting fashion.
In two of its last three games the Broncos were clutch in crunch time: a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Sammy Al-saber against Clovis West on Jan 18 for a 74-71 win, and a week later, big-man Terri Miller converted a baseline layup (and foul) with no time on the clock, a 69-66 win at Clovis East, an intense game from jump ball to buzzer.
One of the most impressive aspects of the noteworthy victories: Both plays were assisted by senior point guard Steven Perry, the team’s leading scorer.
The Broncos are the 2018 version of the Cardiac Kids.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time in special situations in practice and I think that gets their minds prepared for that,” Amundsen says. “They play very hard all the time so that’s never going to be an issue. They are playing better basketball especially when it comes to crunch time.”
Both wins, sandwiched between a 94-62 win over Buchanan, have propelled the Broncos to a 16-7 overall record and tied atop the TRAC standings with Clovis West at 5-1.
Facing Clovis West at home, a game they were down 23-15 after the first quarter and with 17 remaining in the game, DeAndre Walters blocked an Alex Villi layup attempt and quickly gathered the rebound and passed to Perry.
Sensing his team needed to collect themselves Perry called a timeout with six seconds left, setting up the final play.
After an inbounds pass 60 feet away from the basket, Perry then drove as far as possible and found the right-handed Al-saber in the left corner for the game-winner, a perfect swish as teammates stormed the court in celebration, a play Amundsen trusted Perry to make.
“We were going to attack and make a read,” Amundsen said. “I told Steven to make the right read and he did.”
Then at a rowdy Clovis East gym a week later, the Broncos had revenge on their mind after the Timberwolves beat them 77-74 on their home court on Jan. 9, a game they lost on a Jermal Pittman 4-footer with 12 seconds left.
This time, however, Clovis North had the final possession with three seconds left and the ball out of bounds on the left side. Miller set a baseline screen for Perry and the 6-foot-6 junior planted himself on the left low block.
Clovis East defended Miller in front when Perry, who scored 29 points, caught the inbounds pass and lobbed a perfect pass to Miller, who converted the layup with a foul, sinking the free throw for the 69-66 win.
“It was crazy, I never left like that before,” Miller said after the game. “It always feels good to win whether at the buzzer or not.”
Miller, a savvy post player who finished with 17 points, says the trust among the team is at a season high.
“I was a little nervous but I knew I had my team behind me – they always encourage me,” Miller said. “I trust my teammates one hundred percent no matter what.”
The Broncos are peaking at the right time, not lacking in confidence.
“I like our team I always thought we would be able to score a lot of points, because we have some very good players and nice pieces,” Amundsen said. “It was going to come down to meshing – and we are doing that.”