Good Sports: Bullard High Knights take center stage

FRESNO, Calif.

The Knights have earned the respect of their peers but possibly at a big cost for the program and the community that supports it.

Immediately after winning his third straight Valley Championship last weekend, Bullard boys basketball coach Tony Amundsen knew what was about to happen.

"I kind of knew that we were probably going to be selected to go to the open division. To me it's an honor. That's kind of a neat deal that we're in good company with some very good teams," Amundsen said.

Sure, it's a compliment for the program as a whole but by playing the state's best teams in the open division, Bullard cost itself a shot at three potential home games as a top seed and favorite in the Division I bracket.

"The thing I was a little disappointed with was the amount of home games we would get. But besides that, I mean basketball's basketball. We're going to have to compete against the best to be the best," senior guard Corey Silverstrom said.

That's what makes these Knights not only the class of the Central Valley but classy individuals as well.

Last year's run to the Southern California finals had Bullard flying the Central Valley's flag higher than ever. But they know they can earn the central section a lot of respect in the future with another solid showing this year.

"Our whole main focus is to represent the valley. We want to get the Valley on the map. That's what we did last year," Silverstrom said.

"Now that we've won, like hopefully last year our state run, we can get put in the same sentence as the big powerhouses," Bullard senior point guard Chris Russell said.

So when the knights take the court they'll be playing for the entire region, not just themselves, as they look to shock the state that wants them to prove they belong with the best - again.

"I still haven't lost that feeling of losing. It killed me. I went to sleep thinking about it and I'm hungrier than ever to win state," Silverstrom said.

"We have 10 seniors, a lot of guys who remember, who were on the court and use that as motivation to get back to where we are at," Russell said.

Number one in the Valley, looking to expand that to number one in the state.

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