By Ray Hamill — Two Northern Humboldt rivals will be in action at the 33rd annual Rotary Tip-Off boys basketball tournament at McKinleyville High this weekend.
The eight-team tourney gets under way on Thursday afternoon, with both Arcata and the host team scheduled to play later in the evening.
The Panthers open against Lower Lake at 7:30 p.m., followed by the Tigers and Casa Grande at 9 p.m. to cap off the opening day.
The tournament features six out-of-area teams as well, including Heritage and Lincoln, who gets things under way at 4:30 p.m., followed by River Valley and KIPP King at 6 p.m.
The Panthers enjoyed a memorable campaign a year ago, claiming a share of the Big 5 championship along with Fortuna and Del Norte, in what was an exciting finish to the regular season.
The Panthers open the new season against a Lower Lake program that was 10-16 a year ago.
Casa Grande, meanwhile, comes into the tourney at 1-0, having defeated Maria Carrillo 54-50 on Saturday, and the Gauchos feature a senior-heavy roster after going 9-17 a year ago.
Period of adjustment for Arcata boys
It’s going to be an early season of adjustment for the Tigers, who welcome a new head coach — sort of.
This season, Dusty Scofield takes over from the departed Ryan Bisio, after previously coaching the Arcata girls for 11 years and turning that program into a perennial powerhouse.
Scofield, who was only absent from the sidelines for a year, will be hoping to replicate that success with a boys program that has been a powerhouse itself the past few years under Bisio.
Scofield, however, admits there will be a period of adjustment, not just for him and his players, as they get accustomed to each other, but also switching from the girls game to the boys.
“It’s definitely an adjustment,” he said.
“We are a work in progress, but the kids are trying to do the things we are teaching, and they’re open to change.”
This season, the Tigers will rely heavily on their three senior co-captains — Jaden Gorge, Hunter Santsche and Kai Pajares — to lead the way.
And so far so good.
“Our senior captains have been setting the tone for us,” Scofield said. “We’re going to lean on their overall leadership and experience.”
A pair of juniors will round out the starting lineup, including Garrett Hall, in his third year with the varsity team, and Jack Taylor, in his second season with the varsity team.
And for now, the new head coach is just looking to see his players in a game situation.
“I think for us (this weekend), you want to find out kind of where you’re at,” Scofield said. “And figure out where we need to improve.”