By Ray Hamill — It’s been an impressive early season for many of the Humboldt-Del Norte League basketball teams, with 12 of the 18 teams off to a winning start.
Leading the way, and perhaps most impressive of all, are the Fortuna boys, who are not just unbeaten through eight games, but have been blowing opponents away.
If the Huskies were the Big 5 favorites coming into the season, they are even more so now, with back-to-back tournament wins to open.
They have come storming out of the starting gates, putting up an average of 71.4 points a game and winning by an average margin of 21.4.
And all of this without one of their starters, Zac Claus, who has been playing football and only joined the team this week.
The Del Norte boys (5-1) are also off to an impressive start, topping St. Bernard’s 54-29 in the Cloverdale tournament championship on Saturday, having taken two of three games at the Yreka tournament the previous week.
The St. Bernard’s boys, who started a week later than most teams, are also off to a winning start at 2-1, as is Ferndale at 5-1.
The Cats won three straight at the Upper Lake tournament to open two weeks ago, and followed that by going 2-1 at the Trinity tournament this past weekend, bouncing back from an opening loss to Fort Bragg to win two straight.
The most impressive of the Little 4 teams, however, has been the Hoopa Valley Warriors, who are off to a 7-1 start.
The Warriors tipped things off with a victory over defending co-Big 5 champion McKinleyville, and have reached the championship game of their first two tournaments.
On Saturday they defeated a previously unbeaten Cornerstone Christian 91-71 to clinch the Gene Cotter Memorial Tournament at South Fork.
Like the Huskies, the Warriors have been scoring for fun early in the season, averaging an even more impressive 73 points a game, although they have been giving up more than the Huskies (63.9 points a game compared to 50).
Both teams will be in action at the Logger Classic later this week, and the two could potentially meet in the championship game, with Hoopa opening Thursday against McKinleyville and Fortuna taking on Sutter.
Arcata will also be in action at the Logger Classic, opening against Dougherty Valley, while Eureka opens against Stellar Prep.
St. Bernard’s, meanwhile, will play three straight home games on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday against Potter Valley, Clear Lake and Round Valley, respectively.
South Fork and Ferndale will each compete at the California School for the Deaf tournament.
Even more impressive
Even more impressive, all five of the Big 5 girls teams are off to winning starts in 2018.
Del Norte and Eureka are expected to be the frontrunners in league play this season and each has looked the part early on.
The Warriors (6-1) won three straight games at the Yreka tournament to get things started and went 2-1 at the Windsor tournament this past weekend, rebounding from an opening loss to Montgomery.
This week, they’ll travel to play at the Hidden Valley Tournament, opening Thursday against Marion.
The Eureka girls (5-2) also won three straight at the Mack tournament two weeks ago, but dropped two straight at the Harlan Carter Tournament in Redding over the weekend, after beating Shasta in their opener.
The Arcata girls, meanwhile, are now 5-2, having won three straight to take the Durham tournament over the weekend.
This week, Eureka will travel to play at the Lincoln tournament in San Francisco, opening Thursday against Mission, while, Arcata will open the Red Bluff tournament against Corning, also on Thursday.
Fortuna, meanwhile, is 4-3, including four wins in its last five games, with only a one-point to Kelseyville in that run.
McKinleyville is 4-2, having closed out the Corning tournament over the weekend with two straight wins.
Mack will host the Lady Panther Classic this weekend, opening against Hoopa Valley.
St. Bernard’s and Fortuna will also each be at the tourney, opening against Redding Christian and Yreka, respectively.
South Fork and Ferndale will both travel to play at California School for the Deaf tournament.