Clovis North vs. Bullard hoop notes and more

First, here’s a few running floaters on tonight’s Central Section boys Division I basketball semifinal, matching fifth-seeded Clovis North (18-10) at No. 1 Bullard (25-2) at 7 o’clock:

** Bullard is 60-3 vs. section competition with a whopping 26.5-point scoring differential in the past three seasons.

** The Knights, ranked sixth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, fit all the criteria to be invited to this year’s new Open Division in the state playoffs. Among those ranked above them, they’ve beaten No. 3 Salesian-Richmond (60-54) and lost to No. 4 Sheldon-Sacramento (85-74).

** Bullard and Clovis North haven’t played each other this season. The Knights defeated Liberty-Bakersfield 76-46 in the quarterfinals. And that came six weeks after Liberty beat Clovis North 69-44 in Super Saturday at Edison.

Clovis North 5-9 freshman guard Colin Slater can expect four quarters of long-armed defensive pressure at Bullard tonight.

** Key for Clovis North tonight is how Colin Slater — at 5-9 and its leading scorer — holds up against all that long-armed Bullard backcourt presssure with the likes of 6-5 Corey Silvestrom and 6-4 Adam Armstead. Knights 5-9 point guard Chris Russell will surely be chasing Slater around, also.

** Bullard is the two-year reigning D-I champion. The Knights-Broncos winner will play tonight’s Clovis West at Central winner Saturday at 8 p.m. at Selland Arena for the championship. Bullard has defeated Clovis West for the past two titles.

Other notes:

** Despite Hanford’s head-snapping 57-39 loss at Clovis West last night in a D-I girls semi, the community is still guaranteed to be represented at Selland Friday at 8 p.m. That’s because No. 8 Hanford will play tonight at No. 5 Hanford West in a D-II boys semi. Upsets set this up with Hanford knocking off No. 1 Sunnyside and Hanford West winning at No. 4 East Bakersfield.

** When Ridgeview’s 6-3 and Stanford-bound center Erica McCall (right) makes her fourth consecutive appearance in Selland Friday to play Garces for the D-II title, she’ll arrive with 955 career blocks (state record), 1,915 rebounds (No. 3 in state history) and 2,517 points (No. 3 in section history), according to section historian Bob Barnett.

Stretch run in boys/girls hoops: Here are key games in final week

There are five basketball games in particular this week that will carry extra signficance entering Saturday’s seedings for the Central Section boys and girls playoffs.

Here are the Fab Five, in chronological order:

Washington coach Tony Petersen gets a second shot at Sierra Tuesday night with the North Sequoia League title on the line.

Tuesday: Sierra at Washington boys in the North Sequoia League. Will decide league title and, quite possibly, the Division IV No. 1 seeds. Sierra beat the Panthers 75-63 in the first round behind Casey Blunt’s school-record 47 points. Sierra placed second to CVC for the D-IV title a year ago after Washington and The Bee’s Coach of the Year, Tony Petersen, defeated CVC for the 2011 D-IV crown.

Wednesday: Mission Oak at Tulare boys in the East Yosemite League. Hawks have one-game lead on the Redskins after crushing them 81-54 in the first round. Also beat them 77-73 for Polly Wilhelmsen title. Mission Oak ranked No. 2 behind Independence in D-III. Tulare looking at a 5-7 seed in D-I.

Wednesday: Clovis North at Central boys in the Tri-River Athletic Conference. Clovis North tied with Clovis West for second, one game behind Central. The Grizzlies, looking at a No. 2 D-I seed behind Bullard, won 65-47 at Clovis North in the first round.

Thursday: Edison at Bullard girls in the County/Metro Athletic Conference. Tigers lead the Knights by one game after beating them 56-51 in the first round. Bullard had defeated Edison 62-41 in the HIT. This one huge for D-I seeding, which promises to be a five-team scramble (CW, Clovis, Bullard, Edison, Stockdale) behind two-year reigning champion Hanford.

Friday: Bullard at Edison boys in CMAC. Knights lead Tigers by one game after defeating them 66-61 in first round. Bullard, ranked No. 8 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, would likely retain No. 1 seed even with a loss here. Hard to say what a win or loss would mean to Edison, which has lost to Clovis North — which looms large for seeding.

Prep hoop notes: Two and who in TRAC/CMAC girls? And CW @ CN TRAC opener in boys

Unless somebody else signs free agents in a hurry, two-team races appear obvious in girls basketball in the Tri-River Athletic and County/Metro Athletic conferences.

Those would involve Clovis West and Clovis atop the TRAC and Bullard and Edison in the CMAC.

Clovis North’s Colin Slater drives past Stockdale’s defense in a game held at Clovis North on Friday night, January 11, 2013. Clovis North fought off Stockdale to win 63-47. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

Did you notice the league-opening results from Tuesday night?

TRAC: Third-ranked Clovis West led Clovis North 46-12 at halftime in an 81-18 win, and No. 5 Clovis bolted to a 42-8 advantage at the break in a 57-12 rout of Clovis East.

CMAC: No. 4 Bullard led Madera South 63-11 at half in an 89-20 throttling, and No. 10 Edison was up 41-15 after two quarters en route to a 73-20 defeat of Sanger.

We’ll have to wait for Jan. 29 for better answers involving the powers. That’s when Clovis will visit Clovis West and Bullard will go to Edison.

The TRAC’s feature boys opener Wednesday at 7:30 will send No. 3 Clovis West to No. 5 Clovis North.

Clovis North won this matchup at home last year, 58-57. And arriving to significantly boost the Broncos’ cause this season is Colin Slater, who has already established himself as one of the Central Section’s premier players as a freshman point guard.

Clovis West typically defends as well as anyone under coach Tom Orlich. This will be a beauty.