Four days after collapsing against Clovis North, Bakersfield Christian turned the tables on another Clovis Unified opponent.
Trailing by 15 points to Clovis West midway through the third quarter, Bakersfield Christian chipped away at the lead. It shrunk to a six-point deficit after the third quarter, then to a five-point deficit with four minutes remaining.
Junior guard Jackson Tucker scored nine of the Eagles’ final 14 points and provided the assist on Seth Marantos’ go-ahead 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining. The pair hit their free throws to seal Bakersfield Christian’s 76-71 win over Clovis West on Monday.
It was a different feeling postgame for Bakersfield Christian head coach Garrett Brown, who saw the Eagles lose a 16-point halftime lead against the Broncos last Thursday.
“The difference today was the second half,” Brown said. “We were paying attention to detail, paying attention to the scouting report and our focus was there.”
The Eagles returned only four players from last year’s Central Section Division-III championship team, with two of them playing significant minutes a year ago.
The senior point guard Marantos was one of the latter — he scored 13 points Monday.
But Tucker is playing his first year of varsity basketball. He led the Eagles with 25 points.
“[Tucker] is starting to pick it up, and he’s realizing what it takes to win at this level,” Brown said. “He was huge in attacking the rim and making plays.”
Getting inside the paint was a challenge for Clovis West on Monday, according to the Golden Eagles’ head coach Vance Walberg.
“We shot too many threes and they didn’t go in,” Walberg said. “I don’t want to live off the three. We have to find somebody who is going to take the dang thing to the rack.”
The Golden Eagles’ offense was in motion and scoring in the first quarter. Clovis West went on a 14-0 run, helping them take a 26-18 lead after one quarter.
Senior guard and UCSB signee Cole Anderson scored 12 points in the opening quarter alone.
He added a 3-pointer in the second quarter as Clovis West held onto a 45-37 lead entering halftime.
But Anderson scored on a breakaway layup early in the third quarter — and that was all the scoring from him. He finished with 17 points, tying sophomore Issac Martinez for the team-high.
“We know they’re going to hug the hell out of Cole,” Walberg said. “We know that’s going to happen, but we’ve got to find a way to get him the ball.”
A boost to Clovis West’s paint attack will arrive once football season is over.
Two-sport athlete Marcel Sanders Jr. recently informed Walberg that he will play his senior basketball season once he finishes the football season on Friday.
“Knowing Marcel, he’s going to want to play Saturday,” Walberg said. “He’s just going to grind and do everything he can for us to win.”
Including Monday, Clovis West (1-2) plays four games in six days — Hoover (0-0) at home Tuesday, Bakersfield Christian (2-2) on the road Thursday, and San Joaquin Memorial (1-0) at home Saturday.