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Bakersfield Centennial Coca-Cola
Classic Report:  The Semifinals--(Dec. 13, 1998)

News travels slowly out of the Central Valley, and so what if Bakersfield really isn't SoCal. . . It's Central Section, as is Fresno, and points in between, but for purposes of hoops, especially CIF hoops, when it comes time for the State Championship tournament in March every year, the Central Section teams compete against the Southern Section, San Diego and LA City Section teams for the right to represent the Southern part of the State against the North for the State Championships.  That's why we frequently (or infrequently as the case may be) try to get news and notes on the Central Section teams we're likely to be looking at come tournament time.

And there are some very strange things going on in the Central Section.  Last week, Clovis West beat Fresno Washington Union, thought by many to be unbeatable. Clovis West waltzed through the Buchannan Tournament to take the title game.  Oh, and we were reminded last night while watching the Beverly Hills Tournament with Bort Escoto, the head coach of Sylmar, that Sylmar took third in that tournament (like you didn't know that already).

But after beating Washington Union, Clovis West then went to the Bakersfield Centennial Tournament where, on Friday night in the semifinals, they just got killed by Bakersfield East High.  What???  First Crenshaw loses two this week, beating Westchester by 42 points on Friday at the TOC, Clovis West beats DeShawn Stevenson, and then they lose to . . . Bakersfield East???  Something very strange is going on here. Oh, you mean it's just high school basketball.  Oh yeah, we knew that. . . right.  This first one is from the Fresno Bee:

East stuns Clovis West

Bakersfield East High 79, Clovis West 58--Marquese Jingles and East High did something that no other team has done this year.  The Blades beat Clovis West and its overwhelming full court press defense, 79-58, to reach the finals of the Coca-Cola Classic boy's basketball tournament. The Blades (6-0) played Bakersfield (3-0) in the tournament final at Centennial last night at 7:30.  We still don't know the results of that one, but the interesting thing.  

Jungles led the Blades with 31 points, including five 3-point baskets, to help East stay undefeated at 6-0. Brad Hertel was the leading scorer for the previously unbeaten Golden Eagles with 17 points. "(Jingles) works really hard on his threes," East coach Milt Henderson said. "He puts up a hundred or so every day in practice. I don't think Clovis West knew of his range." Clovis West, the defending Central Division I champion, forced 25 East turnovers in the game, but when the Blades were able to break the Eagles' press they usually came away with a layup. "I didn't think that we could win with 25 turnovers," Henderson said. "To be honest, our goal was to keep turnovers down to 12 or 13 in the game." The Golden Eagles started strong, forcing eight Blades turnovers in the first quarter to take a 19-16 lead into the break.

But East jumped out in the second quarter thanks to the skilled ball-handling of point guard Robert Johnson. Johnson was key in breaking the press and the Blades outscored Clovis West 15-4 in the final 4:34 of the half to take a 40-28 halftime lead. Clovis West appeared to turn things around in the second half, forcing a five-second call on the first inbound pass of the half, followed by a baseline dunk by Chris Hernandez. The lead was cut to seven when Charlie Rodriguez completed a three-point play just over one minute into the second half.

But East scored the next seven points, including one of Jingles' 3-pointers, to solidify its lead.  Clovis West did not get closer than nine points for the remainder of the game. "This is the first time we were outhustled this season," Clovis West coach Vance Walberg said. "I don't know where my team was tonight. But this is one of those things that makes high school basketball so interesting."

In the fourth quarter, Johnson and the Blades had little trouble breaking Clovis West's press, leading to numerous lay-ups. The Blades outscored Clovis West 23-13 in the final quarter

And this next one is from one of our friends in the Bakersfield area, and also about the same tournament, the Coca-Cola Classic at Bakersfield Centennial:

Bakersfield Report:  Bakersfield High Beats Central--(Dec. 13, 1998)

This one took place on Friday night at the Coca-Cola Classic High School Tournament at Centennial (Bakersfield), and set up the other half of the Championship bracket, which saw East High play Bakersfield High.  We'll have the results of that one soon (we hope) but for now, here's the other semifinal:

Bakersfield High 70, Bakersfield Central 46-- The Bakersfield High boys basketball team trailed Central High 31-18 at the half in the semifinals of the Coca-Cola Classic at Bakersfield Centennial High on Friday night. But after the half, they came back and not only erased the 13 point deficit, they scored 52 points in the second half and beat the previousl undefeated Central Grizzlies by 24 points.

With the win, Bakersfield High improved to 4-0. Terrence Dunn scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, and BHS, which was plagued by first half turnovers, outscored Central 26-4 in the third quarter. Bakersfield went scoreless over the final four minutes of the second quarter and Central capitalized on the Drillers' poor shooting to score the final seven points and take a 31-18 halftime lead.Central pressed throughout the first half, but in the second, point guard Alfred Williams of BHS finally was able to consistently dribble through and set up the rest of the BHS players for repeated easy layups. Williams, a 6-foot-3 junior, had 10 points for the Drillers, and three other Bakersfield players scored in double digits: James McGill with 14, Johnny Wiley with 10, and Mark Bruley with 10.

Yes, it's high school basketball, and you never know what's going to happen.  And that's what makes it so much fun.  Sometimes.

The Swish Award
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