Warrior Basketball

2019-20 GIRLS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
DECEMBER
3 vs. Hoopa (Varsity Only), 5 p.m.
5-7 at Yreka Tournament (Varsity Only)
5-7 at Eureka Tournament (Freshmen & JV)
10 vs. Hidden Valley (Freshman 4:30, JV 6 p.m. Varsity 7:30 p.m.)
11 at University Prep — Redding (Varsity Only), 7:30 p.m.
12 at Redding Christian — Redding (Varsity Only), TBA
13 at Central Valley — Redding (Varsity Only), TBA
19-20 at Hidden Valley Tournament (JV & Varsity)
27-28 at McKinleyville Tournament (JV & Freshmen)
JANUARY
2-4 at Enterprise Tournament — Redding
7 vs. Eureka (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
14 vs. Fortuna (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
16 at Arcata (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
21 vs. McKinleyville (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
23 at Eureka (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
29 vs. St Bernard’s (JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
31 at Fortuna (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
FEBRUARY
5 vs. Arcata (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
7 at McKinleyville (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
10-14 Dick Niclai Postseason Tournament

2019-20 BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
DECEMBER
3 vs. Hoopa (Varsity Only), 7 p.m.
5-7 at Yreka Tournament (Varsity)
10 at Hidden Valley (Freshman & JV 6 p.m. Varsity 7:30 p.m.)
12-14 at Cloverdale Tournament (Varsity Only)
13-14 at St Bernard’s Tournament (JV Only)
17 at Brookings-Harbor (JV 5:30, Varsity 7:00)
19-21 at Hidden Valley Tournament (JV & Varsity)
27-28 at Eureka Tournament (Freshmen Only)
JANUARY
8 vs. Eureka (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
15 at Fortuna (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
17 vs. Arcata (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
22 at McKinleyville (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
24 vs. Eureka (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
28 at St Bernard’s (JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
30 vs. Fortuna (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
FEBRUARY
4 at Arcata (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
6 vs. McKinleyville (Freshmen 4:30, JV 6:00, Varsity 7:30)
10-14 Dick Niclai Postseason Tournament

December 3
The Del Norte boys and girls varsity basketball teams got their 2019-20 seasons off to flying starts Tuesday evening at Thunen Gymnasium, as the Warrior girls opened the evening with a 60-34 victory over Hoopa, while the boys breezed to a 78-37, also over Hoopa, in the nightcap.
In the girls’ game, head coach Justin Clifton had a very simple but direct message for his team in the pregame huddle mere seconds before the group took the court.
“Let’s get off to a fast start,” Clifton said.
Things didn’t necessarily go as was hoped in the early going, as, although the game began at a frenetic pace, that tempo didn’t translate into points on the scoreboard. The home team began the game as frigid as the temperature outside has been for a majority of the past month, missing countless shots from 15 feet and in, thus allowing Hoopa to stay in the game throughout the opening quarter.
“Let’s get this out of our system and get the jitters out now,” Clifton said in the huddle after an opening quarter that saw the Warriors cling to an 11-8 lead.
Although things began to click somewhat in the second quarter after a subpar at best opening frame, the Warriors led by just 10 at the break and seemed as though they were pressing and attempting to use pace as a means of getting themselves out of their offensive woes.
Whatever was said during the halftime break proved to make a difference, as the Warriors began the second quarter on a 10-2 run, connecting on four of their first seven shots from the field as compared to what was an eight-of-35 field goal conversion output over the first two quarters.
Once the Warriors found their rhythm, the home team simply took the game over, using a combination of a suffocating defense that forced 35 turnovers on the night to generate transition opportunities at the offensive end of the court. Unlike the opening half when the Warriors forced 20 Hoopa turnovers but converted few of those into baskets at their own offensive end, the second half was a much different story, as the guard tandem of Jadence Clifton and Olivia Stilwell created all sorts of havoc on the perimeter, while the inside presence of Maykala Jackson, Selene Ledezma, Lily Wilson and twins Ashley and Aleesha Lenover patrolled the wings and the paint, giving Hoopa very little space or time to get anything going.
As a result, the home team ultimately began to pull away, leading by as many as 32 early in the final quarter and cruising to the non-conference victory. Clifton led all scorers with 30 points, while Stilwell added 11 and had just as many floor burns with her efforts on the defensive end as she did points offensively. Although Jackson, Ledezma, Wilson and the Lenover twins may have combined for only 17 points offensively, the quintet made significant contributions at the defensive end of the floor as well as on the the offensive and defensive glass, securing rebounds that allowed the Warriors to generate early offensive opportunities.
BOYS RESULT
Del Norte 78 Hoopa 37
Although a large number of players are still involved in what continues to be a historic 2019 varsity football season, that doesn’t mean basketball season is on hold by any stretch of the imagination. The Warrior boys began the 2019-20 campaign in emphatic fashion Wednesday evening, jumping out to a quick 23-2 lead after one quarter and never being seriously challenged as they took on an over-matched Hoopa squad.
The home team wasted little time in getting their transition game going, as sharpshooters Omar Banuelos, Alexander Dodson and Judson Pincombe found their collective shooting stroke early and often, draining a combined six 3-point field goals on the night. Banuelos led what was a balanced offensive scoring night for the home team with a game-high 16 points, while Pincombe and Dodson scored 13 and 12 points respectively, most of those coming via conversions from distance.
As as been the case with the Warrior program for decades, offensive production is a direct result of relentless effort at the defensive end of the court and Wednesday evening was no exception. The Warriors forced a total of 25 Hoopa turnovers, as the point guard Damien Dowd made it virtually impossible for Hoopa to get anything remotely resembling an offense going. Even when Hoopa did manage to get looks at the basket, it wasn’t without plenty of resistance, as the Warriors held what is historically a potent Hoopa offense to a mere 16 first half points and took a 43-16 lead into the locker room at halftime.
With a comfortable lead in hand, the Warriors started to develop some uncharacteristically bad habits, particularly in the third quarter, as it appeared the home team was more interested in attempting to find out just how fast they could hoist up shots than focusing on playing the disciplined brand of basketball that enabled them to build the nearly 30-point advantage they enjoyed throughout the opening half.
The visiting Hoopa team was more than willing to take advantage, as it was Hoopa who began to take advantage of lackadaisical defense and turn it into transition opportunities and conversions of their own. However, once the margin got down to 15, the home team stepped on the figurative gas, getting back to the disciplined style of play that had enabled the quick start and dominating first half to happen. While the perimeter game was still clicking, it was being complemented by the inside presence of sophomores Edwin Zepeda and Colton Pincombe, who provided more than just a simple spark off the bench on both ends of the court, enabling the Warriors to right the proverbial ship and take back control of the game, ultimately leaving no doubt as to the outcome. Zepeda scored 13 points off the bench, while the younger the Pincombe brothers, that being Colton, scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

December 5-7

After breezing to a 65-37 victory over Modoc in the opening game of the Annual Yreka Miner Blast Tournament Thursday afternoon, the Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team found itself in unfamiliar territory Friday as the Warriors took on the Henley Hornets of Klamath Falls with a trip to the tournament championship game on the line, that being the fact they were locked in a tight game.

Undaunted, the Warriors simply turned to their trio of guards against the pesky Hornets squad, as Jadence Clifton scored a game-high 28 points and Olivia Stilwell added 17 as the Warriors ultimately pulled away for a 61-54 victory.  The single-digit victory over the Hornets set the stage for the Warriors to match up with an all-too-familiar opponent in Saturday’s championship game, that being the cross-state rival Brookings-Bruins.

With the Bruins defense employing a box-and-one strategy in hopes of slowing down Clifton, Stilwell simply took over.  The senior guard scored a game-high 30 points, including five 3-point field goals, as the Warriors secured their third consecutive Yreka Tournament title with a 55-46 victory over the Bruins.

Stilwell was named the tournament’s most valuable player, while Clifton and junior guard Kirsten Brous were also named to the all-tournament team.  The Warrior girls return home Tuesday when they will play host to the Hidden Valley Mustangs at Thunen Gymnasium.  Tip-off for the varsity game is scheduled for 7:30, with the freshmen leading off the evening with a 4:30 start time and the junior varsity game to follow at 6 p.m.

Tuesday’s contest begins a string of what will be four games in four days, as, following the home tilt against the Mustangs, the Warriors hit the road for three games on three consecutive nights.  The Warriors begin the road trip with a contest against University Prep on Wednesday before taking on Redding Christian on Thursday and concluding the three-day road trip with a contest against Central Valley on Friday.

December 10

After winning its first four games of the season, including capturing a third consecutive Yreka Miner Blast championship over the weekend, the Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team got brought back down to Earth in what was its fourth game in six days, as the Warriors fell 57-52 to the Hidden Valley Mustangs on non-conference action at Thunen Gymnasium Tuesday evening.

Depending on perspective, the game began as a defensive standoff or an off night offensively for both teams, as a combination of turnovers and missed shot that had been virtually automatic through the first four games of the season, put the Warriors in an early hole.  Despite the inefficiency at best offensively in the early going, the Warriors were able to stay in the game via a defense that forced a number of Mustangs turnovers and prevented the visiting team from getting into any sort of rhythm in their own right.

The sluggishness at the offensive end carried over into the second quarter for the home team, while the visiting Mustangs began to find themselves.  Those two components led to the Warriors facing their largest deficit of the early season, trailing 18-8 midway into the second quarter before things began to turn around.

That turnaround was sparked by continued defense intensity, but it was suddenly being complemented by execution at the offensive end of the court, mostly in the form of transition layups created by forced turnovers.  Junior guard Jadence Clifton singlehandedly went on a 9-0 run in the late stages of the second quarter, enabling the Warriors to cut what had been a 10-point deficit down to 21-19 at intermission, allowing the home team to carry some semblance of momentum into the locker room at halftime.

That momentum would be short lived though, as the Mustangs re-established themselves on both ends of the court to begin the third quarter, forcing turnovers and giving the Warriors few to zero quality looks at the basket.  As a result, the Mustangs were able to extend their advantage back to 10 at 34-24 late in the third quarter and eventually 40-31 heading into the final quarter.

Although the Warriors were able to keep the deficit manageable throughout the final quarter and had several opportunities to slice the margin below five, that would be as close as the home team would get for the remainder of the evening.

Clifton led all scorers with a game-high 32 points, while Olivia Stilwell and Kirsten Brous added six and five points respectively.  The Warriors now hit the road for a stretch of what will be three games in three nights, beginning Wednesday when they travel to Redding to take on University Prep.  Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30.

December 11-13
After suffering a 57-52 Tuesday evening at the hands of the Hidden Valley Mustangs at Thunen Gymnasium, the squad’s first of the season following four consecutive wins, the Del Norte varsity girls basketball team had less than 24 hours to lick its proverbial wounds before hitting the road once again, this time for three non-tournament games on three consecutive nights in Redding.
The Warriors opened the gauntlet with a 70-67 loss to University Prep in a game that saw Jadence Clifton score 39 points and saw the two teams combined for 63 points in the third quarter alone, the Warriors responded from a rare two-game losing streak in emphatic fashion. The Warrior girls cruised to a 61-40 win over Central Valley of Shasta Lake on Thursday, and wrapped up the three-game road trip with a 49-29 victory over Redding Christian Friday evening.
The squad, now 5-2 on the season, will now have five days off of game action before heading to Grants Pass to compete in the Hidden Valley Tournament beginning Thursday, December 19.

December 17

The Del Norte varsity boys basketball team saw its full roster intact for the first time this season, as the Warriors traveled across the state line to take on the Brookings-Harbor Bruins Tuesday evening at Brookings-Harbor High School.  When all was said and done, the Warriors improved to 5-1 on the still very young season with a 62-40 victory.

Omar Banuelos and Anthony Slayton led a balanced offensive attack with 12 points apiece, as the Warriors got off to 30-21 lead at intermission before stretching the advantage to 47-28 heading into the final quarter.  Kaleb Price and Alexander Dodson scored 11 points each in the victory.

The Warriors now head to Grants Pass to compete in the three-day Hidden Valley Tournament beginning Thursday.

December 19

The Del Norte boys varsity basketball team broke open what had been a close game over the first three quarters and cruised to a 61-47 victory over the Phoenix Pirates Thursday afternoon at the Hidden Valley Tournament in Grants Pass.  The Warrior boys will face Klamath Union Friday, with tip-off scheduled for 1:15, and then conclude the three day stretch with a matchup against the host Hidden Valley Mustangs Saturday.  Tip-off of Saturday’s game is scheduled for 4 p.m.

On the girls’ side, the Warriors outlasted a methodical Eagle Point squad in their opener at the Hidden Valley Tournament Thursday, posting a 30-22 victory in a game in which the Eagle Point squad made full use of there being no shot clock in the state of Oregon.  The Warrior girls will face Hidden Valley Friday beginning at 8 p.m. in what will be the second meeting between the two teams in less than two weeks.  The Warrior girls then conclude play at the three-day event Saturday, when they face St Mary’s in a contest that tips off at 4:45 p.m.

December 20

The Del Norte varsity boys’ basketball team made it two consecutive wins in Grants Pass after posting a 53-46 victory over the Klamath Union Pelicans Friday afternoon at Hidden Valley High School.  Omar Banuelos continued what has been a blistering start to his senior season, scoring a team-high 24 points in the victory, while Anthony Slayton added 11.

The Warrior boys will face the host Hidden Valley Mustangs Saturday afternoon in what will be the final game of the road trip.  Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

On the girls’ side, the Warriors dropped to 8-3 on the season after falling to Hidden Valley 45-28 in the late game of Friday evening.  The Warrior girls will look to regroup when they take on St Mary’s (Ore.) in what will be the final game of the 2019 calendar year for the squad.

December 21

After falling to Hidden Valley for the second time on the season, the Del Norte varsity girls basketball team responded in an emphatic way, cruising to a 70-49 victory over St Mary’s (Ore.) in the final game of the three-day what turned into Hidden Valley Round Robin Tournament in Grants Pass.  With the victory, the Warrior girls improve to 8-3 on the season heading into the Christmas holiday break.  The Warrior girls will resume competitive action on Thursday, January 2 when they will take on Foothill of Palo Cedro in the opening round of the Lady Hornet Tournament hosted by Enterprise High School of Redding.

On the boys’ side, the Warriors made it a clean sweep of the Hidden Valley Round Robin Tournament, defeating the host Mustangs 55-40 Saturday afternoon.  The victory improves the Warriors record to 9-1 heading into what will be a short break for Christmas before the squad returns to the road once again, this time to compete in the Fort Bragg Tournament beginning Thursday.

December 26

The Del Norte varsity boys basketball team erased a six-point third quarter deficit and ultimately cruised to a 56-38 victory over Roseland University Prep of Santa Rosa in the opening round of the Fort Bragg Holiday Invitational Tournament Thursday afternoon.  Omar Banuelos led the Warriors with a game-high 26 points, while Kaleb Price added nine of his own in the victory.

The Warriors will face the host Fort Bragg Timberwolves Friday evening.  That contest is scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m.

December 27

The Del Norte varsity boys basketball team advanced to the championship game of the Fort Bragg Holiday Invitational Tournament with a 57-45 victory over the host Fort Bragg Timberwolves Friday evening.  The Warriors will face The Nueva School of San Mateo in Saturday’s championship game, with tip-off scheduled for 8 p.m.

Although the Warriors remained stingy defensively from the opening tip in Friday’s semifinal victory, it took some time for the offense to catch up.  However, after clinging to a tenuous 30-27 lead after three quarters, the Warrior offense exploded for 27 points in the fourth quarter to break things open and give themselves a cushion.

Omar Banuelos led the Warriors with 21 points, all of them coming in the second half.  Judson Pincombe scored nine of his 15 points in the second half, while Damien Dowd and Kobe Mitchell added eight and seven points respectively.

January 2

The Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team didn’t exactly open the 2020 calendar year they way they had envisioned, falling to the Foothill Cougars of Palo Cedro 51-41 in the opening round of the Lady Hornet Classic hosted by Enterprise High School in Redding Thursday afternoon.

The Warriors found themselves attempting to play catch up throughout most of the contest, trailing 21-15 at halftime and 33-27 heading into the final quarter, but were unable to come any closer.  Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with 28 points, however the rest of the lineup combined for just 13 points on the evening.

The Warriors will face either Gridley or Willows in a consolation bracket contest Friday, with tip-off scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

January 3

After suffering a 51-41 loss in the opening round of the Lady Hornet Tournament just over 24 hours earlier, the Del Norte girls varsity basketball team shrugged off a rollercoaster start to post a 47-35 victory over the Corning Cardinals in a consolation bracket game Friday afternoon at Enterprise High School in Redding.

The Warriors got off to a quick start against the Cardinals, leading by five at the end of the opening quarter, before the Cardinals turned the tables, turning that five point deficit into a two-point lead of their own at halftime.

That was the extent of the momentum on the Cardinals side though, as the Warriors gave up just 10 points in the entire second half and ultimately cruising to the victory.  Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with a game-high 36 points in the contest.

Although it may not have been on the side of the bracket either team would have envisioned or preferred at the beginning of the tournament, the Warriors will face the tournament host Enterprise Hornets in the consolation championship game Saturday with tip-off scheduled for noon.

January 7

The 2020 calendar year has not exactly been kind to the Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team, specifically as it relates to the win column, as the Warriors suffered their third loss in four games to open the new year, the latest coming in a 62-56 loss to the Eureka Loggers Tuesday evening at Thunen Gymnasium in what was the Big Five Conference opener for both teams.

The contest began as one that would resemble a league opener, with nerves telling the tale early resulting in a less than aesthetically pleasing opening minutes.  Once the two teams began to find their rhythm though, things got going, as the Loggers jumped out to an early lead only to see the Warriors close the gap and eventually take a 16-13 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

That advantage didn’t last long though, as the Loggers began taking utilizing their decided advantage on the interior, with Carly Boynton and Malia Guilbert patrolling the paint and getting quality looks at the basket seemingly on every possession.  When it wasn’t the interior duo, it was guards McKenna Beach and Sophia Chalmers creating havoc on the Warrior guards and hitting timely shots from the perimeter themselves.

The Warriors didn’t go away though, as junior guard Jadence Clifton took it upon herself to keep the home team in the game, going on a 5-0 run her own self to cut what had been a 34-28 lead a minute into the third quarter to a 34-33 Loggers lead with 6:08 remaining in the period.

That momentum would be short lived though, as the Loggers continued to get the ball inside to Guilbert or Boynton for first, second and sometimes third looks at the basket, while the Logger guards were largely the beneficiaries of the multiple offensive looks, putting the Warrior defense in scramble mode.  The home team was able to continue to keep themselves within striking distance throughout most of the evening by forcing the Loggers to turn the ball over and turning those miscues into transition opportunities.  The Warriors forced a total of 18 Loggers turnovers in the contest, while the Warriors committed 12.

The contest was also marred, or highlighted depending on perspective, by a number of whistles which resulted in an inordinate amount of free throw attempts for both teams.  The Warriors and Loggers combined for 79 attempts from the charity stripe on the evening, with the home team connecting on just 26-0f-39 from the line.

Clifton led the Warriors with a game-high 31 points, as the Warriors fell to 9-6 overall and 0-1 in conference play.

January 14

The Del Norte girls varsity basketball team fell to 0-2 in the Big Five Conference and 9-7 overall, losing to the Fortuna Huskies 53-31 at Thunen Gymnasium Tuesday evening.

At the outset it appeared the Warriors were poised to break out of a recent slump that has seen the squad drop four of its last five games, including two straight at home to open conference play.  After Olivia Stilwell and Kirsten Brous drilled consecutive 3-point baskets, the home team seemed to have found an offensive rhythm, taking a 10-7 lead midway into the opening quarter.

However, that would prove to be the extent of the momentum for the remainder of the evening, as the Huskies answered with a 12-1 run of their own to close out the opening quarter, and then proceeded to hold the Warriors to just two points in the second period, as the visiting team took a 26-13 advantage into intermission.

Things didn’t improve much for the Warriors on either end of the floor coming out of the locker room following the halftime break, as the Huskies used a combination of an inside-outside game offensively and a stifling zone defensive scheme to slowly widen the gap and ultimately put to rest any semblance of an attempt by the home team to gain momentum and potentially get back in the game.

With the Huskies leading by as many as 20 in the third quarter, Warrior freshman Gianna Taylor drained a 3-point field goal to give the home team its first points of the period, but by then it was becoming too little too late, as the Huskies continued to keep the Warriors from getting anything going offensively, as frustration at the lack of an offensive flow carried over onto the defensive end of the court.

Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with 10 points, eight of those coming in the second half.  Taylor chipped in with eight points, including two 3-point field goals.  The Warriors will attempt to get into the win column for the first time in the conference season when they travel to Arcata to take on the Tigers Thursday evening at Jerry Paul Gymnasium.

January 15

The Del Norte varsity boys basketball team continued its winning ways Wednesday evening, improving to 2-0 in Big Five Conference play and 13-1 overall with a comfortable 53-35 victory over the Fortuna Huskies at Fortuna High School.

The Warriors were never seriously challenged Wednesday evening, building a 29-15 lead at halftime and extending that advantage to as many as 25 in the fourth quarter.  Omar Banuelos led the way offensively with a game-high 18 points, while Judson Pincombe added 10.  It was on the defensive end of the court though, specifically over the first three quarters, that the Warriors put the clamps on the Huskies and began pulling away early.  Kaleb Price proved to be a problem for the Huskies offense all evening long, leading the Warriors in rebounds and adding six blocked shots as the Huskies got little to nothing going until the final minutes of the contest with the game long since out of reach.

The Warriors will finally make their long awaited return trip to Thunen Gymnasium for just the second time this season after spending the past six weeks on the road, when the squad plays host to the Arcata Tigers Friday evening in what will be a battle of the two undefeated teams in conference play.  The varsity game is scheduled to get underway at 7:30, with the unbeaten Warrior freshman team getting the evening of basketball going at 4:30, followed by the 7-1 Warrior junior varsity team tipping off at 6 p.m.

January 16

After dropping its first two Big Five Conference games at Thunen Gymnasium, the Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team was hoping a change of scenery would start the process of what had become a trend of bad fortune.

Turns out a road trip was exactly what the proverbial doctor ordered, as the Warriors exploded for 29 points in the opening quarter, taking a 29-13 lead after one and not looking back in what was a 69-58 victory over the Arcata Tigers at Jerry Paul Gymnasium on the campus of Arcata High School.

Although the Tigers did manage to get within seven midway into the fourth quarter, for the most part it was all Warriors, specifically the trio of Jadence Clifton, Gianna Taylor and Kirsten Brous, who kept the Tigers at bay from the perimeter defensively while generating plenty of offense on their own end of the floor.

Clifton scored a game-high 35 points, 18 of those coming from the free throw line, while Taylor and Brous combined for five 3-point baskets at key moments, helping the Warriors maintain a cushion while preventing the Tigers from generating any sort of consistent momentum.

The Warrior girls return to what they hope will be the friendly confines of Thunen Gymnasium Tuesday where they will host the McKinleyville Panthers to close out the first half of the conference season.

January 17

The Del Norte boys’ varsity basketball team knew they were going to be in for a battle, as the Warriors welcomed the Arcata Tigers into Thunen Gymnasium with sole possession of first place in the Big Five Conference standings on the line.  Friday evening also marked a return to their home court for the first time since December 3.

In what was a tightly contested contest that lived up to its billing through the first three quarters, the Warriors ratcheted up the defensive intensity in the final eight minutes, ending the game on a 16-3 run and ultimately cruising to a 49-35 victory over the Tigers.

On a night that saw uncharacteristically cold nights from some, the Warriors were able to take full advantage of their depth, particularly on the perimeter, to both generate offense for themselves and stymie the Tigers on their own offensive end of the floor.

Damian Dowd led what was a balanced Warrior offensive attack with 10 points, many of those coming at the free throw line down the stretch.  Despite being saddled by foul trouble throughout the evening, Anthony Slayton contributed nine points, while Kobe Mitchell and Kaleb Price added eight points each.

The Warriors hit the road again Wednesday when they travel to McKinleyville to take on the Panthers in hopes of closing out the first half of the conference season with an unblemished record.

January 21

The 2020 calendar year continues to be unkind to the Del Norte varsity girls’ basketball team, as the Warriors dropped to 1-3 in Big Five Conference play with a 53-45 loss to the McKinleyville Panthers at Thunen Gymnasium Tuesday evening.  All three of the Warriors conference losses have come at home.

Things looked positive for the home team early, as the Warriors jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead behind 3-point field goals from Olivia Stilwell and Kirsten Brous, sandwiched around a free throw from Aleesha Lenover.  After the Panthers responded with a 6-0 run of their own to take an 8-7 lead, the Warriors closed out the opening quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 15-8 lead after one quarter.

Despite frigid shooting from the floor and a decided rebounding disadvantage, the Warriors were able to maintain their lead throughout the opening half due in large part to the Panthers own inability to get anything going offensively.

As a result, the Warriors carried a 27-22 lead into intermission, ultimately stretching that advantage to 33-22 early in the third quarter and seemingly giving themselves some cushion.

However, that is when the pendulum of momentum slowly began to swing in the opposite direction, as the Panthers cut the double-digit deficit to seven at the end of the third quarter and found themselves well within striking distance heading into the final period.

That is when the avalanche began, and the Warriors couldn’t recover.  What had once been an 11-point advantage, was suddenly a 41-40 deficit early in the final period, as it was the Panthers who were clicking on both sides the half court line, while the home team was struggling to find any answers.

After a Gianna Taylor 3-point field goal cut the Panthers lead to 45-43 midway into the fourth period, that seemed to temporarily re-energize the home team, but that was short-lived as the Panthers answered with a 3-point field goal of their own to extend the lead back to five and all but ended any chances of a Warrior comeback.

When all was said and done, the Panthers outscored the Warriors 20-5 in the final quarter and 33-12 over the final 12:30 of the ballgame.  Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with 15 points.  Stilwell, Taylor, Lenover and Lily Wilson scored six points apiece, while Brous added five.

January 22

The Del Norte boys’ varsity basketball team completed a perfect first half of its Big Five Conference schedule Wednesday evening with a 52-38 victory over the McKinleyville Panthers at McKinleyville High School.

In a game that was anything but lopsided, the Warriors held a slim 25-21 lead at intermission as the visiting team found itself in a battle against Panthers team that was winless in conference play heading into Wednesday’s contest.  The home team quickly erased the slim four-point halftime deficit and turned it into a four point advantage midway into the third quarter, creating more than a few anxious moments for the conference-leading Warriors.

The Panthers brief lead wouldn’t last long though, as Omar Banuelos scored seven of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter, five of those coming in a run that saw the Warriors turn what had been a deficit into a 35-33 lead heading into the final quarter.

That lead would be built upon in short order, as the Warriors suddenly found their rhythm and ran with it, literally.

While it was Banuelos who was a catalyst for the third quarter surge, the early part of the final eight minutes belonged to Judson Pincombe, who drained consecutive three pointers to help the Warriors extend a slim two point lead to eight at the midway point of the quarter.  Pincombe finished his evening with 11 points.

From there, the Warriors did not look back, putting the clamps on the Panthers at the defensive end of the floor while turning those defensive stops into quality looks at the basket on the offensive end.  The Warriors held the Panthers to just five points in the final period, while the blue and gold tallied 20 of their own during that decisive final stretch.

The Warriors begin the second half of their conference schedule Friday when they will play host to the Eureka Loggers at Thunen Gymnasium on what will be Sportscaster’s Club Night in addition to the unveiling of the 2020 Warrior Superfan, which will take place during halftime of the varsity contest.

January 23

After winning just one of its first four Big Five Conference games, a stretch that includes three consecutive losses at Thunen Gymnasium, the Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team found itself at a crossroads as the Warriors traveled to Eureka to take on the Loggers at Thunen Gymnasium Thursday evening.

The Warriors answered the call in emphatic fashion, cruising to a 60-39 victory over the Loggers in a game that saw the Warriors in control virtually from the opening tip.  The Warriors led 34-22 at intermission and took a 42-30 lead into intermission en route to the comfortable victory.

Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with 31 points, while Selene Ledezma added 12.  The Warrior girls take their final break from conference play Wednesday when they play host to the St Bernard’s Crusaders at Thunen Gymnasium.

January 24

In a game that was far from a masterpiece, the Del Norte varsity boys basketball team kept its undefeated Big Five Conference record intact and stayed one full game in front of the Arcata Tigers in the conference standings with a 54-47 victory over the Eureka Loggers at Thunen Gymnasium Friday evening.

With the offense struggling to find a rhythm, the Warriors controlled the game at the defensive end of the floor, limiting the Loggers to just two points in the opening quarter, those coming via free throws. Adding insult to injury, literally, point guard Damian Dowd suffered an ankle injury early in the game and was relegated to assistant coach for the remainder of the evening.

Eventually the Warrior offense began to slowly find itself, largely due to the contributions of senior Anthony Slayton, who scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the first half, as the Warriors extended what had been a slim 8-2 lead after one quarter to 29-18 at intermission.

Following the halftime break, the Warriors were able to continue the momentum built with a 21-point second quarter, as a Judson Pincombe 3 point play gave the home team its biggest lead of the contest at 41-24 with 2:27 left in the third quarter.  Just as had been the case for most of the evening though, the Loggers had an answer, this one in the form of a 6-1 run that cut the Warrior lead down to 42-31 with still 6:21 remaining in the contest.

Although the Warriors were able to maintain their cushion on the scoreboard, the feisty Loggers squad refused to go away, cutting the lead to single digits and ultimately forcing the Warriors to ice the game with conversions from the free throw line.

The Warriors hit the road Tuesday when they travel to Eureka to take on the St Bernard’s Crusaders in a non-conference game at St Bernard’s High School.  The Warriors then return home Thursday when they will play host to the Fortuna Huskies in Big Five Conference action at Thunen Gymnasium on what will also be homecoming night.

January 28

The Del Norte varsity boys’ basketball team took a break from Big Five Conference play Tuesday evening, traveling to Eureka to take on the St Bernard’s Crusaders, leaders of the Little Four Conference, at St Bernard’s High School.

Although the Warriors came away with a 57-45 victory, it wasn’t as comfortable as the final margin may indicate, as the Warriors withstood a fourth quarter surge that saw the Crusaders cut what had been an 18-point lead after three quarters down to single digits at the three minute mark of final quarter before ultimately holding on down the stretch for the victory.

Leading by eight at halftime, the Warriors came out of the locker room with a definite sense of purpose to open the second half, putting the clamps on the Crusaders at the defensive end of the court, while also beginning to pull away offensively.  The Warriors eventually stretched what had been a six-point advantage to as many as 19 at 44-25 late in the third quarter, as the inside-outside trio of Kaleb Price, Omar Banuelos and Judson Pincombe began to assert themselves.

Price led the Warriors with a team-high 16 points, while Banuelos and Pincombe added 11 apiece, as the Warriors were seemingly in control with an 18-point lead heading into the final eight minutes.

However, nobody told the Crusaders the visiting team was in control, as the home team began chipping away in the early stages of the fourth quarter and kept that momentum during a five-minute stretch that saw what had been a near 20-point advantage cut to seven with three minutes remaining in the contest.

The Crusaders would get no closer than seven though, as timely free throws from guards Damian Dowd and Kobe Mitchell extended the advantage back to double figures down the stretch and preserved the Warrior victory.

January 29

The Del Norte varsity girls’ basketball team seems to be snake bit when it comes to what have for whatever reason turned into the not-so-friendly confines of Thunen Gymnasium.  The latest example came Wednesday evening, as the Warriors dropped a 65-54 non-conference contest to the St Bernard’s Crusaders, dropping the Warriors home record to 1-5 on the season.

Although the home team did get off to a promising start, as both Olivia Stilwell and Kirsten Brous drained 3-point field goals in the opening minutes to give the Warriors some early momentum, it proved to be short-lived, as the Crusaders jumped out to a 15-7 lead at the end of the opening quarter led 29-23 at intermission.

The Warriors connected on just seven-of-28 field goal attempts in the first half and seven-of-12 from the free throw line while committing 11 turnovers in the first two quarters.  The Crusaders, on the other hand, while also committing 11 turnovers, converted on 14-of-28 shots from the floor, led by freshman Saulele Tanuvasa who gave the home team fits on both ends of the quarter from the opening tip.

The Warriors did show signs of life coming out of the locker room to start the second half, getting out in transition and turning that up-tempo style into conversions at the offensive end.  However, just when it seemed the home team had established some traction and looked poised to get back into the game, the Crusaders had an answer each and every time, eventually building on the lead incrementally.

Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with a team-high 26 points, 23 of those coming in the second half.

Despite the struggles at home, the Warriors still have plenty to play for over the final three games of the Big Five Conference season.  The Warriors travel to Fortuna Friday evening to take on the Big Five Conference leading Huskies at Bob Orr Court on the campus of Fortuna High.

January 30

The Warrior boys’ varsity basketball team found itself in very unfamiliar territory in any number of ways as they took on the Fortuna Huskies in Big Five Conference action Thursday at Thunen Gymnasium.  Riding a winning a 14-game winning streak heading into Thursday’s action, most of those victories coming by double digits including a 53-35 victory over the very same Huskies in the first meeting between the two schools, the Warriors were on a considerable role and clicking.

However, nobody informed the Huskies they were simply supposed to concede a season sweep to the Warriors, as the visiting team put the clamps on the Warriors defensively throughout the first half, and generated just enough offense of their own to take a 15-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Things started out much the same way in the third quarter, as the contest continued to be defensive oriented with neither side being able to put much of anything together on offense.

That all changed seemingly on one possession, as Kaleb Price drilled a 3-point goal late in the shot clock to give the Warriors a 21-15 lead with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter, and from there it was virtually all home team for a majority of the third period and well into the final stanza.

For whatever reason, things simply just clicked, and the Warriors started finding the bottom of the net at will over a seven minute stretch of the second half, starting with an Omar Banuelos corner 3-point field goal that extended the Warrior lead to double digits at 32-21 less than a minute into the final quarter.

Banuelos scored a game-high 27 points on the evening, 14 of those coming in the fourth quarter alone, as the Warriors led by as many as 20 midway into the fourth quarter.

Just as the Huskies have historically been prone to do though, the visiting team did not go away, capitalizing on lackadaisical offense from the home team and turning that into buckets at their own offensive end.  The Huskies ultimately cut what had been a comfortable 20-point in the mid-to-late stages of the final quarter down to single digits down the stretch, draining 3-point field goals on four consecutive possessions in the closing minutes before the Warriors iced the contest from the free-throw line to secure the victory and keep themselves alone atop the conference standings.

February 4

The Del Norte varsity boys’ basketball team overcame any number of challenges and faced as much adversity as the squad had faced in quite some time as they traveled to Arcata High School to take on the Tigers in Big Five Conference action at Jerry Paul Gymnasium Tuesday evening.

Trailing by 13 points after one quarter and by as many as 16 in the first half, along with having both Anthony Slayton and Omar Banuelos in foul trouble throughout the evening, the Warriors battled literally all of the 32 minutes of regulation time, and pulling out a 50-48 victory to remain undefeated in conference play and clinch its first outright Big Five Conference championship since 2010.

Down 48-47 with mere seconds showing on the clock in a game that the Tigers had seized control of early and had maintained a lead on the scoreboard virtually throughout, Banuelos, with outstretched defenders draped all over him, drained a high-arcing 3-point shot from the corner to give the Warriors a 50-48 lead and sending the Warrior faithful and sideline into a frenzy as the final buzzer sounded.

“Omar is one of the premiere players in our league,” Warrior coach Marc Slayton said.  “He said he had never hit a game-winning shot before.  He picked a good night to hit his first one.”

In a contest fitting of the top two teams in the Big Five, the home team came out with a definite goal in mind, that being to hand the Warriors their first conference loss, and first loss period since early December, while attempting to vault themselves into a tie with the Warriors atop the conference standings in the process.

At the outside and for large stretches of the contest, it appeared as though the Tigers were going to do exactly that, jumping on the Warriors quickly in the opening quarter offensively, while using a pressure defense in an attempt to keep the visiting team from getting anything of its own going offensively.

However, each and every time it looked like the Tigers were in command, the Warriors had a response, using a methodical possession-by-possession philosophy on both ends of the floor to begin slowly inching their way back into contention.

After the Warriors cut what had been a double-digit deficit to 23-21 at halftime, the Tigers built the advantage back to eight at the end of three quarters, setting the stage for what was was a stomach-churning, heart palpitating final eight minutes, literally.

“Arcata missed some shots that they had been making earlier in the game, and we were able to control the boards in the fourth quarter,” Slayton said.  “Sometimes it takes a little luck, and we had definitely had some luck tonight.”

Banuelos, who played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls, led three Warriors in double-figures with 13 points, including two fourth quarter 3-point goals.  Judson Pincombe scored all 11 of his points in the second half, while Anthony Slayton added 10 points despite being saddled by foul trouble himself.

Although the Warriors still have one game remaining on their regular season schedule, that being Thursday when they play host to the McKinleyville Panthers on what will be Senior Night at Thunen Gymnasium, the euphoria of Tuesday’s victory and all that comes with it is something that coaching staff and players alike are going to allow themselves to enjoy.

“I’m really proud of this group of kids,” Slayton said.  “They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do as a coaching staff starting in the summer to get us to where we are now as a team.  For this team and for this group of seniors to win a Big Five title outright is special.”

February 5

The Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team came into its final home Big Five Conference home game Wednesday evening against the Arcata Tigers knowing full well that a win was essential if the squad had any hopes of continuing its season past this week.

On what was also Senior Night for twins Ashley and Aleesha Lenover, along with Selene Ledezma and Olivia Stilwell, the contest began as if both teams knew their seasons were on the line, as the opening minutes of action saw a combination of turnovers and missed shots from both teams and very little fluidity on either end of the floor.

After a less than stellar first quarter, the Warriors began to find themselves on both ends of the court beginning in the second stanza, turning the Tigers over defensively and converting those into transition opportunities at the offensive end of the court.  The end result of that eight minute stretch was the home team outscoring the Tigers 20-13 and taking a 29-18 lead into the locker room at intermission.

That momentum carried over into the second half, as the Warriors opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run, extending their advantage to 37-18 with 4:17 remaining in the quarter, and it seemed as though the home team was well on its way to a comfortable victory.

That is when things got interesting, much too interesting for the home team and its coaching staff’s liking, not to mention the partisan Thunen Gymnasium crowd, as the Tigers ratcheted up their pressure defense and began to force turnovers in bunches.  The Warriors committed 12 turnovers in the third quarter alone, while the Tigers turned each and every miscue into baskets at their own offensive end of the court.  Making matters worse for the home team, guard Jadence Clifton picked up three fouls in the space of two minutes as the Tigers were surging back into the game, forcing the junior to the bench for the final three minutes of the period.

Despite all of the chaos, and a 10-0 Tigers run to close the third quarter, the Warriors managed to hold on to a 37-28 lead entering the final period.  However, with Clifton still on the bench in foul trouble, the Tigers continued to apply suffocating pressure on the perimeter, continuing to force turnovers and turning those miscues into transition baskets, whether it be from 3-point range or at the rim.

When all was said and done, the Tigers outscored the Warriors 20-2 over a nine minute stretch to close the third quarter and start the fourth, cutting what had been a 19-point Warrior lead down to 39-38 with just under three minutes remaining in regulation.

The avalanche of Tigers momentum was stopped briefly, as Clifton wasted little time in making her presence felt after having been relegated to the bench in foul trouble, converting a 3-point play to give the Warriors a 42-38 lead that they would not relinquish.  Two free throws from Kirsten Brous and an offensive conversion from Aleesha Lenover on consecutive possessions, coupled with sound Warrior defense down the stretch enabled the home team to finally close the deal and breathe a collective huge sigh of relief.

The Warriors return to the court Friday evening when they wrap up the Big Five Conference regular season with a trip to McKinleyville to take on the Panthers at McKinleyville High School.

February 6
The Del Norte varsity boys’ basketball team came into Thursday’s Big Five Conference finale against the McKinleyville Panthers at Thunen Gymnasium having already clinched its first outright conference championship since 2010, but still having some unfinished business to take care of.
On what was Senior Night for Damian Dowd, Alexander Dodson, Kobe Mitchell, Anthony Slayton, Omar Banuelos and Eli Larson, the Warriors began uncharacteristically slowly as the pageantry of the pregame acknowledgments carried over onto the court in the opening minutes.
That all changed when Warrior head coach Marc Slayton called a full timeout just 90 seconds into the ballgame with his team leading 3-2.
The message was simple.
“Let’s finish.”
The early wake up call brought the focus back to the task at hand on the court, and the Warriors never looked back en route to a 61-33 victory that capped off an unbeaten conference season.
The Panthers stayed around for the first quarter and change, before the Warriors broke open what had been a slim 15-12 lead early in the second period. Once the floodgates opened on the offensive end of the floor, the momentum carried over onto the defensive end, as the Warriors found themselves on cruise control from the 6:00 mark of the second period to the early stages of the fourth quarter.
After outscoring the Panthers 20-5 in the second quarter and going into the locker room with a 33-14 lead, the home team continued the barrage into the third quarter, hitting five of their first seven shots of the period and holding the Panthers without a field goal for a five minute stretch. The result was a 9-0 Warrior run to open the third period that saw the lead balloon to 42-14, and eventually reached a 30-point spread at 48-18. In addition to hitting virtually everything shot at the basket offensively, the Warrior defense forced six turnovers in that five minute period as the Panthers had zero answers.
Dodson scored a team-high 13 points, all in the second half and including three 3-point goals to lead what was a balanced. Banuelos, who hit what turned out to be the game-winning 3-point shot from the corner in the final seconds of Tuesday’s conference-clinching game at Arcata, scored 11 points against the Panthers Thursday, including a 3-point field goal. Slayton scored nine points, while Mitchell and Larson each had a 3-point field goal to account for their offensive production. Although Dowd may not have found the scoring column, the senior point guard steadied the Warrior offense all evening long, while playing stifling defense on the perimeter.
Although the Warriors are yet to have an opponent for the upcoming Dick Niclai postseason tournament, they do know the game will be played Wednesday evening at Thunen Gymnasium with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.

February 7

The Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team dropped its final Big Five Conference regular season game Friday evening, falling 53-39 to the McKinleyville Panthers at McKinleyville High School in a game that saw the Warriors trail 34-12 at intermission.  Despite mounting a mini-rally in the second half and outscoring the Panthers 27-19 over the final two quarters, the early hole the Warriors dug for themselves was simply too much to overcome.

Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with 17 points, while Lily Wilson and Kirsten Brous each added seven.

Although the Warriors came up short in their regular season finale Friday, due to the Fortuna Huskies victory over the Arcata Tigers in the lone other conference game Friday evening, the Warriors postseason aspirations are still intact.  The road will be difficult though and begins tomorrow evening as the Warriors will play host to the Arcata Tigers at Thunen Gymnasium for the second time this week, this time in the first of what would be two Dick Niclai Tournament play-in games.  Tomorrow evening’s contest is scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m., with the McKinleyville Panthers awaiting the winner in what would be a second Dick Niclai Tournament play-in game.  That second play-in game would be played Monday evening at McKinleyville High School beginning at 7 p.m.

The survivor of that two games in three days gauntlet would then earn the No. 3 seed out of the Big Five Conference in the Dick Niclai Tournament and would travel to Eureka to face the No. 2 seed Loggers Tuesday evening at Jay Willard Gymnasium.  The Loggers, who finished their regular season Wednesday evening, ended conference play with a 4-4 record.

February 8

After seeing its Big Five Conference season come to an end just 24 hours earlier, the Del Norte varsity girls’ basketball team saw its 2019-20 regular season come to an end with a 65-55 loss to the Arcata Tigers at Thunen Gymnasium Saturday  evening.

At the outset of the contest, it appeared as if both teams had indeed played a game 24 hours earlier, as, although the pace was frenetic, the execution was from from pristine in the opening minutes, as the Warriors turned the ball over on four of their first five possessions, but were able to stay within range as the Tigers were unable to convert off of those miscues.

Once the adrenaline slowed, the two teams were able to maintain their up tempo styles, while converting opportunities created by their respective defenses into transition baskets at the offensive end of the court.  The Tigers began to pull away in the latter stages of the second quarter, going on a 12-2 run to extend what had been a 19-18 lead to 31-20 at intermission.

Although most of the statistics across the board were a virtual wash in the opening half, the Tigers connected on six 3-point field goals in the first two quarters, while Kirsten Brous had the Warriors lone make from behind the arc in the half.  Brous scored five of her seven points in the opening quarter, including a 3-point field goal.

The Tigers carried their momentum into the second half, building a 44-30 lead early in the third quarter to seemingly take control of the game.  However, the Warriors were not willing to go away easily, as three consecutive steals, two from Olivia Stilwell and one from Jadence Clifton, were turned into layups, as the Warriors quickly cut the 14-point deficit in half.  The home team wasn’t done, as the Warriors appeared to suddenly find their intensity and, in the process, got the Thunen Gymnasium crowd into the game for the first time all evening.

When all was said and done, the Warriors scored 12 consecutive points to cut the Tigers lead down to one possession at 44-42 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, forcing an Arcata timeout in an attempt to slow the onslaught.

Mission accomplished, as the Tigers regained control of the game in very short order following the stoppage, scoring eight consecutive points of their own over the final two minutes of the period to take a 52-42 lead into the final quarter.

The Warriors got no closer than eight points during any part of the final period, as the Tigers controlled the backboards and forced the home team into scramble mode defensively for virtually the entire fourth quarter to preserve the victory, the first for the Tigers over the Warriors on the season after Del Norte won the two regular season meetings between the two schools.

Clifton had a game-high 29 points for the Warriors in the loss.  Olivia Stilwell scored nine points, six of those during the third quarter spurt that got the home team within one possession late in the third quarter.  Lily Wilson added all four of her points during the same third quarter surge.

February 12

After earning a bye in the opening round of the Dick Niclai Postseason Tournament by virtue of having won a Big Five Conference regular season title, the Del Norte boys’ varsity basketball returned to the Thunen Gymnasium court and defeated the Ferndale Wildcats 54-31 Wednesday evening.

With the victory, the Warriors advance to the Dick Niclai Tournament championship game, where they will face the Arcata Tigers Friday evening in a game to be played at Lumberjack Arena on the campus of Humboldt State University in what will be the third meeting of the season between the two schools.  Tip-off for Friday’s contest is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Warriors wasted little time getting going against the Wildcats, using a 16-1 first quarter run to ultimately take a 22-7 lead after one quarter.  The home team connected on nine of its 11 shots from the floor in the first eight minutes of action, while the Wildcats managed just a two-of-seven clip and committed six turnovers.

The Wildcats didn’t roll over and go away though, as the visiting team began chipping away at its deficit in the early stages of the second quarter, cutting the lead down to 26-16 before the Warriors once again stepped on the proverbial gas pedal and put a virtual end to any thoughts of a complete comeback from the visiting team.  The end result was a Warrior 15-0 run to close the half, as the home team took a commanding 41-16 lead into the locker room at intermission.

Kaleb Price scored 10 of his game-high 13 points in the opening half to lead three Warriors in double figures on the night.  Omar Banuelos scored all 11 of his points in the first half, including three 3-point field goals, while Damian Dowd added his own 10 points in the first two quarters.

With the home team well in control at the halftime break, the Warrior coaching staff emptied its bench to begin the second half and allowed the second unit to get some game experience and valuable minutes with little to zero pressure on them.

Although the Warriors defensive focus and intensity did not falter one iota, the home team held the Wildcats to just four points on one-of-12 shooting from the field in the third quarter, the Warrior offense that had been so precise and so on fire throughout the first two quarters suddenly couldn’t find itself in the third frame.  The Warriors shot just two-of-12 from the floor in the third quarter themselves.

All told the two teams combined for exactly nine points in the third quarter, but yet the Warriors were able to increase their lead to 46-20 heading into the final period.

Things didn’t get much cleaner or efficient for either team in the final quarter, as just 19 points were scored by the two teams.  Virtually everyone who saw action found the scoring column for the Warriors in the victory, with Edwin Zepeda scoring six fourth quarter points to lead the reserves offensively.

February 14

After running the table in claiming the program’s first outright Big Five Conference title since 2010, the Del Norte varsity boys’ basketball team added another accolade to an already impressive 2019-20 resume, coasting to a 46-35 victory over the Arcata Tigers in the championship game of the Dick Niclai Tournament Friday evening at Lumberjack Arena on the campus of Humboldt State University.

“All of the credit goes to the players,” first year varsity head coach Marc Slayton said after the game.  “We played smart basketball, and were fabulous at the defensive end.”

Although the Warriors had won the previous two meetings against the Tigers during the conference season, as the adage in team sports goes, it’s difficult to beat the same team three times in one season.

With that in mind, and knowing it had taken an Omar Banuelos 3-point field goal in the final seconds followed by a near half-court shot that narrowly missed giving the Tigers a buzzer-beating victory in the previous matchup between the two schools, the Warriors wasted little time in setting the tone for Friday’s contest.

“We probably played our best first quarter of the season tonight,” Slayton said after watching his team take an 18-9 lead at the end of the eight minute period.

Things got a little interesting in the second stanza though, as the Warriors suddenly couldn’t find the bottom of the net offensively and had their lead virtually cut in half by intermission, with Del Norte holding on to a 21-6 lead advantage at the break.

Realizing things had gotten perhaps a little too close for comfort, the Warriors wasted zero time in rebuilding a cushion, ratcheting up an intensity level at the defensive end that had only allowed the Tigers nine and seven points respectively in the first half as it was.  In addition to holding the Tigers offense in check, the Warrior offense began clicking again as well.

That was the beginning of the march toward the championship trophy, as the Warriors outscored the Tigers 17-6 in the third period to take a commanding 38-22 lead into the final quarter and virtually salting things away in the process.

“For whatever reason we were a little out of sync in the second quarter, but we came out with great effort and intensity in the third,” Slayton said.  “One of our goals tonight was to make all the hustle plays and win the 50-50 balls, and we were able to do that tonight.”

Omar Banuelos led the Warriors with a game-high 19 points, 10 of those coming in what turned out to be a game-deciding third quarter.  Damian Dowd scored eight points of his own, but it was what won’t necessarily show up in the boxscore that told the true story of the senior point guard’s impact on Friday’s victory, as the Dowd held Arcata’s freshman phenom Brandon Bento-Jackson scoreless on the night.

Despite having secured both a regular season championship and now a Niclai tournament title, the Warriors are by no means finished, as they now turn their attention to the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs which begin next week.  The who, what and where will be determined Sunday when the brackets and matchups are released by the section seeding committee.

“Winning the Niclai Tournament is special, but it’s all about the next one” Slayton said.  “Hopefully we’ve done enough to have earned ourselves a top four seed in the section playoffs.”

February 19

After being given a No. 5 seed by the North Coast Section seeding committee, the 22-1 Big Five Conference and Dick Niclai Tournament champion Del Norte boys’ varsity basketball team took the court at Thunen Gymnasium Wednesday night, opening the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs against the No. 12 seed Middletown Mustangs.

Although the Warriors came away with a 56-43 victory and, in doing so, advanced to the quarterfinal round, Wednesday contest was by no means a one-sided affair, particularly in the second half.

Both teams came out of the gate with noticeable playoff jitters, as the two sides exchanged turnovers on the first four possessions of the contest before the Warriors finally got things rolling.  The home team scored the first 11 points of the evening and appeared to be in cruise control, but the Mustangs responded with a surge of their own to keep things well within reach at 21-12 after one quarter.

The Warriors extended their lead to 26-12 in the early moments of the second quarter before once again the Mustangs responded, cutting the deficit to 27-17 before the Warriors closed the half on a 9-3 run to take a seemingly comfortable 36-20 lead into the locker room at halftime.

However, the home was anything but comfortable in the third quarter, as the Mustangs extended their defense beyond the top of the key, forcing the Warriors to play catch along the perimeter and jumping into passing lanes to create turnovers.  The Mustangs weren’t just creating turnovers, they were turning those Warrior miscues into transition baskets at their own offensive end of the floor, as the once 16-point lead was suddenly cut to 38-28, thus forcing a Warrior timeout.

“They’re scrambling on defense trying to make something happen and we’re playing right into their hands,” Warrior coach Marc Slayton said during the stoppage.  “When we stand around and spectate, we’re not very good.  Show ball and attack the basket, let’s go fellas.”

The message didn’t seem to get through, as the Warriors scored just four points on 2-of-12 shooting from the floor, while the Mustangs were playing with a renewed sense of confidence as they found themselves right back in the game, trailing just 38-32 at the 1:25 mark of the third period.

That would be as close as the Mustangs would come for the remainder of the evening though, as the Warriors got back to being themselves in the fourth quarter in helping build what had been a 16-point lead at intermission.  Even with the resurgence, the Mustangs were still hanging around until an Anthony Slayton 3-point field goal with 3:07 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Warriors a 51-38 cushion and all but ended what was an exciting evening of basketball for any number of reasons.

Slayton led the Warriors with a team-high 20 points, 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter.  Omar Banuelos scored 16 points despite being in early foul trouble, while Kobe Mitchell scored eight of his 10 points in the second half in addition to applying defensive pressure to the Mustangs guards on the perimeter all evening long.