In a rematch of last year’s Division I boys basketball title game, the Clovis West Golden Eagles had a complete showing, displaying potent offense and ferocious defense in a 95-48 rout of the Bullard Knights on Day 1 of the Nike Clovis West Invitational.
The game started slow for both sides, as play went scoreless for the first two minutes.
Bullard center Justin Parks woke the crowd up with a number of dunks and alley-oops, electrifying the gym and getting the Knights off to an 8-2 lead.
Clovis West responded with hot shooting from behind the arc; as a team, the Golden Eagles hit seven three-pointers in the quarter to gain a 28-16 lead. Freshman guard Isaac Martinez led the team with 11 points in the first quarter.
Bullard began creeping back into the game in the second quarter, closing the gap to 30-22.
Clovis West then proceeded to take the game over.
With active defense leading to turnovers, and an offense humming with solid shooting and aggressive drives to the basket, Clovis West built a 51-36 halftime lead.
Coach Vance Wahlberg was most impressed with his squad’s defensive prowess.
“Our defense has always been our bread and butter,” Wahlberg said. “[Defense] and hustle… if we have that, I think we can play with a lot of the teams.”
Clovis West would play the Knights out of the gym in the third quarter.
A 15-3 run led to a 30-point third quarter. Junior point guard Cole Anderson – who was recently voted NorCal Player of the Week by Cal-Hi Sports – dropped nine points in the third, on his way to a game-high 21 points.
The rout was on as Clovis West led 81-43 heading to the fourth quarter. The final period saw bench players rotate in, as the closing minutes ticked down on a dominant victory for the Golden Eagles.
Wahlberg attributed his team’s big win to the small victories within the game.
“Early in the season, you want to see where you stand, see if you can get a little better each game…little by little, we just want to get better,” Wahlberg said.
Despite Wahlberg’s focus on achieving small victories with every game, the talent on his team is too big to ignore – and so are the expectations surrounding the Golden Eagles this season.
Clovis West (6-1) will next play Modesto Christian (2-0) Thursday evening, on Day 3 of the Nike Clovis West Invitational.