In what was a history making Wednesday evening at Thunen Gymnasium, both the No. 7 Del Norte boys’ varsity basketball team and the No. 2 seed Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team took the court on the same evening in the opening round of the North Coast Section Division IV playoffs. Wednesday marked the first time in program and school history that both varsity basketball teams hosted playoff games on the same evening.
The Warriors boys got things started in emphatic fashion, opening up what had been a tight game in the early going and turning it into a 72-41 rout of No. 10 seed Middletown. Following a slow start as both teams were attempting to familiarize themselves with one another, the Warriors found their rhythm on both ends of the court and proceeded to step on the figurative gas pedal. The home team opened up an 18-10 lead after one quarter and increased that margin to 21 by halftime following a 22-9 second quarter barrage that all but put the contest out of reach. The Warriors committed just three turnovers in the first half while forcing nine Middletown miscues in that same two quarters, allowing the home team to get out in transition and generate easy looks at the basket on the offensive end of the floor.
Holding a comfortable lead at halftime, the Warrior boys simply continued executing their offense with precision, while using a suffocating defense to keep a clearly over matched Middletown team out of sync and out of sorts. Omar Banuelos led the Warriors with a game-high 30 points in just three quarters of play, including six 3-point field goals. Ethan Price added 14 points of his own in the victory, converting eight of his nine attempts from the free throw line. A total of eight players reached the scoring column, as the Warriors were able to get quality contributions and quality minutes from their entire roster.
On the girls’ side, the No. 2 seed Warriors were looking to continue their school history making season as they took on the No. 15 seed Gateway Gators of San Francisco in what was the nightcap of the evening. Just as the Warrior boys had done earlier in the evening, the Warrior girls got off to a relatively slow start before turning up their intensity and execution level on both ends of the court midway into the opening quarter and never looking back. The home team turned what had been a 6-4 lead early in the opening quarter into a 19-9 advantage by the end of the period. From there it was Warriors, as the home team went into the locker room at halftime with a 38-17 lead and proceeded to outscore the visiting Gators 32-5 in the second half en route to the victory. The Warrior girls held Gateway to just one field goal in the entire second half, that one coming late in the final quarter as the clock was on running time due to the margin on the scoreboard, to go along with three Gators free throws accounting for their five points in the final 16 minutes of action.
Kaleya Sanchez led the home team with a game-high 21 points, while Jadence Clifton and Bella Stone added 15 and 11 points respectively in the victory, as a total of nine Warrior players found the scoring column.
Next up for the Warrior boys is a familiar trip down Highway 101 South where the No. 7 Warriors will take on the No. 2 seed Fortuna Huskies at Fortuna High School Saturday evening in what will be the fourth match up between the two schools on the season, and second in the space of a week. The No. 2 seed Warrior girls will play host to the No. 7 seed Urban Blues of San Francisco at Thunen Gymnasium in a second round game Saturday evening as well.