Clovis High point guards share passion for game

By Rick White

Playing point guard is as demanding as a boss having a bad day.

They’re expected to handle the ball, be a coach on the floor, get teammates involved and score when needed.

Being a vocal leader on and off the court and a go-between for the coach and the rest of the team is also part of the job.
Two of the best in the area will be on display — Clovis senior Bud Willis and Lady Wildcats sophomore Tori Quintana — Monday through Wednesday when Clovis hosts the Milk Cow Classic (boys) and Plateau Holiday Classic (girls) basketball tournaments at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

A point guard in high school and college, Clovis boys coach J.D. Isler is well versed in the demands of the position.

“I don’t make any bones about it,” Isler said. “I’m tough on point guards. They have a huge impact on the game. My expections are high for Bud, and with those come a lot of pressure.”

Isler said the wiry 6-foot-2 Willis, in his third season with the varsity, has matured into a special player.

“Bud sees the game really well,” Isler said. “The biggest thing is he’s learned to make his teammates better.
“There’s a lot of great players, but not a lot of players who can make their teammates better.”

Clovis girls coach Miles Watters said Quintana has matured quicker than he thought possible while replacing two-year starter Chelo McElrath.

‘It’s been an unbelievably smooth transition,” Watters said. “I never thought a sophomore guard could run the team as smooth as she does. She still makes mistakes, but it’s going to take her a while to understand what I want her to do.”

What also sets Willis and Quintana apart is their unbridled passion for the game.

“I think there are few and far between who have the love for the game she does,” Watters said.

Both are rarely without a basketball in their hands.
“I’m always getting in trouble for dribbling in the house, usually while I’m watching a game on TV,” said Quintana, who spends many Sundays at the Roy Walker Community Center playing basketball with the boys.

Willis’ passion for the game manifests itself on the court, where he revels in making the no-look pass or a double-pump layup.

“I’m kind of a crowd-pleaser,” Willis sheepishly admitted. “I love it when the crowd kind of gasps when I make a play.”
Willis learned the hard way there’s a time and place for everything on the basketball court. Plagued by turnovers from forcing passes, Willis lost his starting position for a while last season.

“I just had a lot of growing up to do and I’m thankful Coach Isler and Coach (assistant coach Mike) Hankins worked with me,” said Willis, who is averging 9.5 points and 6.2 assists a game for the 10-1 Wildcats.

Isler said tries not to rein in Willis’ flair for making spectacular passes.

“I’ve tried to get him to understand the game better,” Isler said. “He needs to know the score, the time on the clock, the flow of the game. Being able to recognize these things will dictate whether he needs to make a good, solid pass or he can take chances.

“I don’t mind a turnover here or there. But a turnover at the wrong time can really swing the momentum.”

Quintana is more of a scorer than Willis, showing a knack for knocking down big shots in her first full season at the varsity level. She’s the Lady Cats’ (8-2) best 3-pointer shooter, the team leader in assists.

“She’s not really worried about who scores,” Watters said. “She’s worried about winning and losing.

“But it’s nice having a kid (at point guard) who can score.”

Q&A with Bud Willis
Favorite player? Allen Iverson

Favorite team? Philadelphia 76ers

Rock or rap? Rap

Carmelo or LeBron?Ultimate job outside of playing professional sports? Coaching

Hero outside of sports? My mom

Funniest teammate? Tizrick Phillips

What’s better? A game-winning 3-pointer or a game-winning assist? Assist

Favorite subject? Math

Chick pick? Britney or J-Lo? J-Lo

What gets you chewed out faster? A bad passing, a bad shot or losing your man on defense? Losing my man.

Q&A with Tori Quintana

Favorite player? Mike Bibby

Favorite team? Sacramento Kings

Rock or rap? Rap

Carmelo or LeBron? Carmelo

Ultimate job outside of playing professional sports? Veteranarian

Hero outside of sports? My mom

Funniest teammate? Brittany Blackmon

What’s better? A game-winning 3-pointer or a game-winning assist? 3-pointer

Favorite subject? Science

Boy toy? 50 Cent

What gets you chewed out faster? A bad passing, a bad shot or losing your man on defense? Losing my man.