A few thoughts as January turns to February on a spectacular 65-degree Friday:
** Bee football All-Stars that were published Friday:
– Yes, Clovis North’s Cory Hall was supposed to be listed among the Coach of the Year finalists (he’s been added to the online story). He was actually a close runner-up to Mendota’s Beto Mejia. Quite impressive that both have won Central Section division titles in their first two seasons as prep head coaches.
– I also gave Clovis North’s Isaiah Duran long, serious consideration for Player of the Year before going with teammate and quarterback Christian Rossi. Duran flat got it done as a lineman on both sides of the ball.
** Housing all six section football finals over two days at Bulldog Stadium is gaining traction. The concept is the same in what has been an enormous success in basketball for eight years at Selland Arena. What’s making the football gig possible is Fresno State offering a huge discount rate. This will come down to Kern County schools accepting the idea, giving up potential home-field advantages — ala, Bakersfield at legendary Griffith Field. Keep in mind: The section’s CIF office has returned thousands of dollars to its schools as a result of the basketball financial windfall at Selland.
Speaking of hoops:
** Bullard, while remaining a cut above the D-I boys pack after winning titles the past two seasons, is not what it was a year ago. The graduation losses of Bee All-Star Aaric Armstead, Brad Thakham and Walter Orr (he of the miracle winning shot at LB Poly) were major for the Knights. Then, again, I’m drawing this conclusion after watching them without starting off guard and exceptional defender Adam Armstead in their 66-61 home-court win over Edison Wednesday night. He’s missed nine straight games following a concussion, but says he’ll return next week. He’s needed — against legitimate opposition like Edison, that is.
** Edison could win it all, no question. While not quite as deep as Bullard, the Tigers have all the answers, featuring T.J. Viney and Phillip Randles in the backcourt, 6-7 Duke Doulphus up front and super-athletic Tray Greenberry all over the place.
** Round II between No. 10 Clovis North and No. 5 Clovis West in TRAC boys hoops Friday night at the Golden Eagles’ gym. Clovis North won 80-74 in Round I at home. The Broncos, Eagles and No. 6 Central are tied at 4-1 entering the league’s second round. Then Clovis West will remain home to play Central Wednesday.
** Central and point guard L.J. Moore have begun to hit stride, as expected. I’m guessing Moore still hasn’t practiced more than 10 days following football. And that’s at the Grizzlies’ shallowest position.
** Bullard’s Aarion McDonald, in her latest push for Cal-HI Sports Freshman of the Year honors in girls hoops, delivered a school-record 14 steals in addition to 31 points in the Knights’ 93-21 win Thursday night at Madera South. She’s averaging 24 points a game.