Somehow, someway, the Clovis West boys’ basketball team struck it lucky twice.
They erased a 16-point deficit against Clovis North in December, a triple-overtime win that Clovis West head coach Vance Walberg chalked up, in part, to good luck.
Once again, Clovis West was pushed up against the ropes Tuesday, facing its largest deficit of the season.
Yet the Clovis West Golden Eagles mounted a gritty comeback, defeating the Central Grizzlies in overtime, 97-87. The win improved Clovis West to 25-1 and 7-0 in TRAC play. The Golden Eagles hold a three-game lead in the league standings and can clinch their fifth consecutive TRAC title with a win Friday over Clovis East.
“It’s amazing,” Walberg said after Tuesday’s comeback. “We were lucky. We were really, really lucky. But the kids believed down the way, which I have no clue how the hell they did it.”
Late in the second half, it appeared Central (14-9, 4-3 TRAC) would deliver a big upset on Clovis West’s home floor. No Central Section team has defeated the Golden Eagles yet this season, and the Grizzlies came awfully close by beating Clovis West at what it does best – rebounding, hustle plays, and defense.
Central dominated the second and third quarter, opened a 22-point lead in the third, and led by 16 with 3:30 left in the game.
A quick 10-0 run by Clovis West, sparked by a three-pointer from junior Issac Martinez, sent “The Nest” into a frenzy. Central clinged to a 75-71 lead as head coach Greg Streets called timeout, and the Grizzlies kept their four-point cushion, 79-75, with 1:01 left in the game.
But the Golden Eagles scored the next six points, including senior Trey Carr’s layup to take an 80-79 lead with 26.6 seconds left. Junior Ladanian Streets answered for Central, laying one in high off the glass and over the outstretched hand of 6-foot-8 senior Tyus Parrish-Tillman.
That left 8.9 seconds on the clock for Clovis West. Martinez was fouled off the ball before the inbounds pass came in, and he made one of two free throws to tie the game.
Central missed its final shot at the buzzer, and Clovis West outscored Central 16-6 in overtime and extended its winning streak over TRAC opponents to 21 games.
“It was by far the most we’ve been down all season,” said sophomore Jackson Young. “It was a little nerve-wracking at first. But we all love each other on the team and we stick together, so ultimately that’s what got us through.”
Clovis West scored 45 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined. Parrish-Tillman scored 13 of them on his way to a game-high 28 points. Martinez added 21, and Carr and Young each chipped in 18.
Five Grizzlies scored in double figures – senior Marquise Green (17), junior Henry Madden III (15), Streets (14), senior Terik Streets (12), and junior Dylan Swillis (11).
Central’s next game is at Buchanan Friday.