It didn’t take long for the Gridley Invitational Basketball Tournament to reinforce its reputation as the premier high school basketball event in Northern California.
Played in the small Butte County town of 7,500, 30 miles south of Chico, the host Gridley Bulldogs welcome in seven of the state’s top teams for a memorable weekend that features not only great basketball, but also an immersive experience where players stay with host families and get a taste of rural life.
Clovis North and Dublin faced off in the first of Thursday’s four quarterfinal games, and Clovis North junior guard Jordan Espinoza won the game for his team with a baseline drive and layup as time expired.
The Broncos trailed Dublin (4-2) by as much as six in the fourth quarter, but rallied to tie the game with 3:12 remaining on freshman McKae Amundsen’s 3-pointer. The Gaels tied the game on Courtney Anderson Jr.’s 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining. Anderson, who committed to Colorado in September, scored 22 of his game-high 26 points in the second half.
After a baseline pass was deflected out of bounds on Clovis North’s final possession of regulation, the referees convened and decided to bump the remaining time from 1.7 seconds to 2.4. Clovis North (5-1) made good use of that time, and Espinoza sent his team into the semifinals.
Dublin became the latest victim in a string of Bay Area teams to suffer heartbreaking losses to the Broncos. In last season’s California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Tournament, Clovis North eliminated Miramonte, Sacred Heart Prep and St. Ignatius on the way to winning the Northern California Division I Championship. SI lost to the Broncos by two in the regional final before Clovis North ultimately lost the state championship game to Los Angeles power Damien.
Clovis North will face Salesian (2-1) in a 7 p.m. semifinal on Friday. The Pride defeated Oakland Tech on Thursday, 63-55. Riordan (5-0) will face Campolindo (4-0) in the other semifinal, a rematch of the 2021 championship game. The Crusaders had no trouble with host Gridley in their opening game, winning 75-43.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]