The Central Grizzlies showdown against Bullard High Knights came down to the final seconds for a three-peat victory in a Division I battle tonight (Feb. 3) in downtown Fresno.
Fans for both schools screamed as the final minute counted down.
The No. 2-seeded Knights were down by 2 and Bullard’s point guard Chris Estrada held the ball too long in the final 10.3 seconds of regulation perhaps setting up for a 3-pointer to win the game. Estrada was still beyond the 3-point line and dribbling when the ball apparently hit opponent Avery Boyd, who ended with the steal seconds before the buzzer.
The 79-77 victory was a third-straight title for the No. 5-seeded Grizzlies. Top-seeded Clovis West was eliminated by No. 9 Sunnyside (Fresno), who was eliminated by Central. Bullard held up the seeding up to the championship game.
“This year’s team was totally different from the last two years,” said Central head coach Greg Streets after the game.
Bullard’s head coach Bill Amundsen told reporters after the game officials should have called the play a kick ball.
Bullard finished the season at 22-10, while champion Grizzlies ended at 25-7.
Senior point guard for Central, Cash Williams, was removed from the game for foul trouble, but returned in the final minutes of regulation. He’s already looking forward to a state regional invitation for the Grizzlies by the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation).
“The same way we got to valley, we got to go up to state and take care of business,” said senior point guard Cash Williams.
“We’re not satisfield with the valley championship. We went two years straight to state, the first round at state, we got blew out by 30, but, this year, it’s totally different.”
Central coach Greg Streets instructed his squad to keep a solid defensive position in the final minutes.
“I kept telling the team we needed to get defensive stops. They looked tired. I just told the team to play solid ‘D’ and we’ll see an opening to where we’ll get the opportunity to score, and we did,” said Streets.