By Ray Hamill — The Arcata Tigers got their own tournament off to a winning start with a 57-32 victory over visiting Mazama out of Oregon on Thursday evening.
Also at the Arcata tournament, Eureka won a tough battle with Division-I Liberty, while McKinleyville comfortably took care of business against Lower Lake, and Hoopa Valley dropped the opening game of the day to Foothill.
At the Marin Academy Tournament, St. Bernard’s rolled over Emery in its season opener.
Hoopa Valley 34, Foothill 77
The Division-V Hoopa Valley girls had their hands full against a Division-I school to open the tournament on Thursday.
Alexia Jackson scored a team-high 15 points for the Hoopa girls, while teammate Beyonce Bussell added 10 points.
“We’ve got a little ways to go,” Hoopa head coach Floyd Billings said.
The Warriors dropped to 0-3 with the loss, but have played three far bigger schools in those losses.
Jackson looked solid running the Hoopa offense, and the four-year varsity senior brings plenty of experience to a young lineup.
“Our shots fell much better than in the last few games,” Billings said.
Things won’t get much easier for Hoopa when tourney play continues on Friday, with the Warriors matching up against Liberty, another Division-I school.
McKinleyville 63, Lower Lake 36
The Panthers are growing up, and it’s beginning to show.
On Thursday, the McKinleyville girls tipped off the AIBT with a comfortable win over the Trojans that took advantage of a balanced team effort with several players getting on the scoresheet.
And that’s good news for a McKinleyville team that has not won a league game in two years, but one that has plenty of experience this year and appears ready to turn the corner.
“We’ve got eight returners, so having that solid base is nice,” McKinleyville head coach Tony McClure said.
It showed too, with the Panthers playing a high-energy pressure game and turning in a cohesive team performance.
“Four of our eight returners are third-year varsity players,” McClure said. “We’ve been really young the past couple of years, and now that’s going to start to pay off.”
Theresia Dickey and Rian Heenan were instrumental in the win.
Dickey finished with 12 points, while Heenan added nine points.
“Everyone got some good playing time tonight,” the head coach said. “It was a good game to start.”
The Panthers continue tourney play against league rivals Arcata in the winners’ bracket at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.
Arcata 57, Mazama 32
Sophia Belton led a strong Arcata effort to open tourney play, scoring 10 points and making her presence felt with a big defensive performance.
“She played well at both ends,” Arcata head coach Doug Oliveira said of the senior third-year varsity player. “Defensively she really sparked us.”
Raja Cohen also scored 10 points for the Tigers (2-0), who were led by the consistent Kali Zanotti with 14 points.
“We played with great effort,” Oliveira said of his players, who feature only three returners with any real varsity experience this season. “It was a pretty physical game, and I was pleased with how the kids handled that. We didn’t back away.”
The Tigers advance to the winners’ bracket and will play close rivals McKinleyville on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Eureka 52, Liberty 41
The Loggers overcame a big early-season challenge to open the AIBT, defeating Division-I Liberty in a physical encounter.
“I thought it was a tough game,” Eureka head coach Michael Harvey said. “And I thought all the girls played hard.”
Dorshaela Wesson led the Loggers (2-0) with 16 points, while teammate Makaila Napoleon added 13 points.
Junior Carly Boynton also had a good night with eight points.
Eureka opened up an early double-digit advantage and held it throughout much of the game, leading 31-16 at halftime.
The Eureka girls advance to play Foothill, another D-I school, in the winners’ bracket on Friday at 7 p.m.
Marin Academy Tournament
St. Bernard’s 59, Emery 8
Emery was no match for the Crusaders, who gave up up just four points in the opening half and led by 35 points at halftime.
Emily Gardner led a balanced team effort from St. Bernard’s, with eight of the 10 players scoring.
Gardner got her senior campaign off to a big start by scoring a team-high 16 points, with Maddie Costa adding 11 points and Jasa Sisemore 10 points.
Brenna Silvers also netted eight points in the win, and teammate Shelby Jordan six.
The Crusaders continue tournament play against Rincon Valley Christian on Friday at 6:30 p.m.