In a hard-fought playoff game where both sides traded leads all night, No.3 seed San Joaquin Memorial used a late 20-4 run to upset No.2 seed Clovis North 74-70 Saturday night at the Stables Center.
“It started on the defensive ended slowing down Terri Miller, who is obviously a great player [for Clovis North],” Memorial guard Jaden Geron said. “On offense, we stayed aggressive the whole time and waited for the right moment to attack.”
The action on the court was fast-paced from the opening tip, as Memorial pushed the tempo with its fast break. Clovis North struggled early to contain the three-headed attack of Geron, Joseph Hunter and Devin Newsome for the Panthers in transition.
Memorial took a 24-19 lead after the first quarter, yet Clovis North used a big second quarter to take a lead into halftime.
Broncos guard Sammy Al-Saber knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the second period, and junior forward AK Okereke hit a pair of mid-range jump shots to keep pace with the Panthers.
Most importantly, Terri Miller caught fire for the Broncos in the post, scoring nine points and dishing a couple assists in the first half to put Clovis North ahead 43-39 at the break.
Memorial came out of the break on a 9-3 run to take a brief lead in the third quarter, but Clovis North answered with a balanced scoring effort.
Miller scored four points in the third quarter, Okereke chipped in three and Malachi Henry hit a three-pointer to guide Clovis North to a 57-51 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Clovis North extended its lead to as large as 63-54 midway through the fourth before Memorial mounted its comeback.
Geron scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to fuel Memorial’s 20-4 run in the game’s final minutes.
Clovis North hit a late three-pointer in the closing seconds to cut the final score to 74-70.
For Clovis North, Miller finished the game with a team-high 15 points and Okereke contributed 14 in a tough loss for the Broncos to swallow.
Yet if there ever was a silver lining, it would be the fact that Clovis North is guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs with its selection in the Open Division bracket.
Clovis North will play again Thursday in the third place game, at home against Arroyo Grande.