It wasn’t necessarily always pretty or efficient, but the Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team exorcised a significant demon in program history with its 64-51 victory over the Arcata Tigers at Thunen Gymnasium Wednesday evening. The victory extends the Warriors overall record to 13-1 and keeps them unbeaten in the Big Five Conference at 2-0. Things only get tougher though, as the Warriors hit the road Friday for a conference matchup against the McKinleyville Panthers at McKinleyville High School. The varsity contest is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. The Warrior girls then return home to Thunen Gymnasium Saturday when they will play host to South Medford High School. Tip-off for Saturday’s matchup is set for noon.
At the outset, the it looked as though the Warriors were going to make very quick work of the Tigers, as the home team jumped out to a 13-3 lead, using a harassing defense to create numerous early turnovers and converting those miscues into transition opportunities at their own offensive end of the floor. However, playing an all-too familiar pressure defense of their own, the Tigers quickly turned the tables on the Warriors, capitalizing on uncharacteristic and inopportune turnovers, ultimately closing the opening quarter on an 8-0 run to close the gap to 13-11 after one quarter.
While both teams continued to play at a frenetic pace, it seemed as though neither side could generate any rhythm or fluidity, as the contest continued to be marred by turnovers and missed easy baskets at their respective offensive ends of the floor, particularly on the Warrior offensive end of the court. The home team would eventually find itself temporarily midway into the second quarter, as consecutive 3-point baskets from Jadence Clifton and Bella Stone helped the Warriors extend their advantage to 23-14 and seemingly creating some breathing room in the process. That brief spurt was answered with a 10-5 Tigers run to close the half, and although the home team went into the locker room with a 28-24 lead at intermission, it was clear that the momentum was on the visiting team’s side of the floor.
The Tigers carried that momentum well into the third quarter, ultimately erasing the four-point Warrior halftime advantage and turning it into a 34-29 Warrior deficit midway into the period, forcing a spirited timeout. That stoppage proved to be crucial, as the Warriors turned up their intensity and focus at the defensive end of the floor, creating turnovers and turning them into easy looks at the offensive end of the court. Unlike what had occurred for a majority of the first half though, this time the Warriors were able to turn those transition opportunities into baskets. The result was a 13-2 Warrior run that enabled the home team to slowly but surely seize control of the contest.
Kaleya Sanchez led three Warriors in double-figures with a team-high 19 points, while Stone and Clifton added 15 and 14 points respectively. The two sophomore guards also connected for five of the team’s six made 3-point field goals in the ballgame.
The Warrior boys’ varsity basketball team picked up its first Big Five Conference victory of the season this week as well, squeaking past the Arcata Tigers 54-52 at Arcata High School Tuesday evening to improve to 1-1 in conference play and 11-4 overall. Omar Banuelos scorched the nets for a season-high 30 points in the victory. The Warrior boys will play host to the McKinleyville Panthers Thursday, January 10 at Thunen Gymnasium on what will be homecoming night for Del Norte. Freshman action gets underway at 4:30, with the junior varsity game to follow at approximately 6 p.m, and the varsity game beginning at approximately 7:30 p.m.
The Del Norte wrestling team got off to a quick start in the Humboldt-Del Norte League this week as well, cruising to a 75-6 victory over the McKinleyville Panthers in the boys’ dual meet between the two schools and 38-6 in the girls’ dual meet Tuesday evening at Thunen Gymnasium. The Warrior girls’ squad also earned a 30-8 victory against the Panthers.
The Warrior boys were the recipient of several victories via forfeit as Chaz Harrison (120 pounds), Blake Allen (125 pounds), Sherrik Cron II (132 pounds), Nolan Ridgley (145 pounds), Wyatt Schneck (152 pounds) all won their individual matches without setting foot on the mat. As far as the action that did take place, the Warriors’ David Hall got things rolling with a victory via pin at 1:10 of the opening round in his 106 pound match. Skyler Moore followed that up by making quick work of his opponent at 138 pounds, earning a victory via pin at :42 of the opening round. Tanner Stancliff kept the Warriors momentum going with an emphatic 20-second pin in the 160-pound classification match, and Justin Goudelock extended the streak of victories via pin to four, doing so at the 5:36 mark of the third and final round. The Warriors Braydon Henderson had easily the most competitive match of the afternoon on the boys’ side, overcoming a 4-3 deficit with a 3-point near fall in the closing seconds of the match to eke out a 6-4 decision.
The boys’ squad now travels to Sacramento to compete in the two-day Tim Brown Invitational beginning Friday.
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