Imminent: Death, taxes and Tony Amundsen hired by Clovis North

Bullard boys basketball coach Tony Amundsen will be approved as Clovis North’s coach Wednesday by the Clovis Unified school board.

Tony Amundsen will be approved as Clovis North’s boys basketball coach Wednesday by the Clovis Unified school board in a high-profile switch that’s become as given as it is comical, really.

Unless, of course, you’re associated with Bullard’s program, which is taking a hit unlike any in school history in regard to coaches.

Consider my exchange Friday night with Clovis North athletic director Eric Swain at the state track and field meet at Buchanan:

Me: “So, Eric, is the Amundsen hire official?”

Swain (smiling): “The forwarded candidate will be approved Wednesday by the board.”

Me (laughing with the most rhetorical question of my 40-year reporting career): “So, who’s the ‘forwarded candidate?’”

Swain (laughing): “Cmon, buddy.”

And away goes Amundsen, who made that intention clear two weeks ago, when he told The Bee he wanted the Clovis North job because of an “overwhelming factor” — his family of five lives in that school’s attendance area. Further, that his oldest child, fifth-grader Cadee, will be on campus with him in the fall of 2014 at the Clovis North Educational Center, which combines Granite Ridge Intermediate and the high school in northeast Fresno at International and Willow Avenues.

What an enormous blow for not only Bullard, but the County/Metro Athletic Conference and Fresno Unified School District as well.

Understand this: A typical tenured teacher/coach in the district makes about $75,000.

Amundsen is worth double that, if not more, considering the following his teams have drawn from home to road to Selland Arena in a 119-38, five-year career with three consecutive Division I titles at the school.

There’s no doubt Bullard, a melting pot for basketball talent not only within its attendance area but Fresno Unified (see transfers), will replace Amundsen with a quality coach.

But, as Knights athletic director Doug Finks says, “You can’t bottle lightening.”

And Amundsen brought serious thunder and lightening to a program that not long ago could hosted a card game (one table, 10 players) at its home  games.

Past couple years? Routine turnaway crowds of around 1,500.

“Tony has created a Bullard community phenomenon,” Finks says. “What he’s done transcends basketball.”

Sports stampede at Clovis North

They’re ridin’ high in athletics at Clovis North High.

How? Count the ways:

** The Broncos’ baseball team plays for the Central Section Division I title at home Friday against Stockdale at 4:30 p.m.

Tony Amundsen, who has won three consecutive boys section D-I basketball titles at Bullard in one of the most dominant runs in section history, is about to take the whistle at Clovis North.

** The boys basketball program is about to pilfer the hottest coaching ticket in the section — Tony Amundsen — from Bullard.

** Brittany Pierce, a rising star in the girls volleyball coaching fraternity, was recently plucked from Sanger.

** The girls track and field team placed third in the section finals behind fab freshman Rhesa Foster (1st long jump, 2nd 100 HH, 3rd 100), sophomore Mikaela Smith (1st 800, 3rd long jump), Leigh Moffett (2nd 3,200) and Nicole Ballestero (2nd pole vault).

** And the Broncos captured the section D-I title in football.

Putting Bullard boys hoops dominance into numbers: Gotta see to believe

Bullard High’s Calvin Young drives by Central’s defense in second half action during the final championship of the 54th Annual Holiday Invitational Tournament held at Hoover High School’s event center on Saturday, December 22, 2012. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

Was curious, so just crunched some numbers for the Bullard boys basketball program that has reduced Central Section competition to virtual scrimmages for three years running.


** The Knights, under coach Tony Amundsen, are 52-3 against section opposition while going 75-13 overall with two consecutive section Division I titles in the past three seasons.

** And here’s the wow number: Bullard has outscored section foes by an average of 25.0 points in those 55 games — 25.0!

Don’t be too quick to say this is all about weak County/Metro Athletic Conference (besides Edison) competition, either. In winning the past two D-I crowns, the Knights defeated Clovis East, Central (twice), Bakersfield and Clovis West (twice).

And while this does not apply to their run against section teams, they are succeeding quite well against perennial state powers as well. That included Southern California Regional wins over Westchester-LA, Taft-Woodlake Hills and Long Beach Poly last year, and conquests this season over then-state No. 2 Salesian-Richmond, Oaks Christian-Westlake Village and Dorsey-LA, among others.