By Ray Hamill — You get the sense it’s going to be a fun winter for Hoopa Valley basketball, not just in terms of wins and losses, but also in terms of how they go about achieving it.
The Warriors have been one of the most impressive local teams in the early season, storming out of the starting gates with a 7-1 record heading into this week’s Logger Classic.
They’ve also been the highest scoring team in the area with 73 points a game, and a fun group to watch.
With a guard-heavy lineup, the Warriors attack with pace and are more than happy to get into a shootout.
The question is will they be good enough to end St. Bernard’s reign in the Little 4, which is shaping up to be extremely competitive this winter.
The Crusaders have won the past four league crowns, with Hoopa last winning it in 2014, a long drought for such a basketball strong school as Hoopa.
This year, however, the Warriors appear to have the pieces to not only challenge St. Bernard’s in the Little 4, but also for the school’s first section crown in 16 years.
The rankings would certainly suggest so.
According to MaxPreps, the Warriors are currently ranked second among Division-V schools in the NCS, behind only Stuart Hall, as well as 12th overall in the entire NCS, and fourth among D-V schools in the state.
Hoopa Valley is also the last public school to win the Division-V crown back in 2003, and the only public school to win a D-V section title in the past 25 years.
“Our goal is to do well in league and go as far as we can in sections,” Marshall said. “And the ultimate goal is the state tournament, and see how far we can go.”
The Warriors have a roster of 10 players, five seniors and five juniors, and are deep with eight major contributors.
Seniors George Navarro and George Nixon lead the way, with Navarro scoring at a ridiculous rate and averaging 29.8 points a game.
Nixon has been adding 17.4 points a game, and according to his coach, he is “super quick, really athletic and plays super big.”
Sounds like the entire Hoopa team.
“This year, we’ve got a small group, but we’re out-rebounding bigger teams,” head coach Joe Marshall said. “Especially after we get going. George has some incredible rebounds. For little guys, they can jump and are quick.”
Senior Shaun Navarro, George’s twin, has also impressed in the early going, as have seniors Dennis Young and Sonny Jarnaghan.
Juniors Milton Mabry, John Smith and Tavis Young have each taken on bigger roles with the team and give Marshall plenty of options beyond his group of stellar seniors, while juniors Tristen Campbell and Aiden Mendes give the Warriors some crucial added depth.
“These guys all grew up playing basketball together,” Marshall said. “And you see where basketball has been a good escape for them and a good way for them to channel their energy.
“Here in Hoopa, basketball is going to keep you active, and it’s an inter-generational thing.”
The Warriors’ team quickness will be on display this week at the Logger Classic, with Hoopa opening Thursday against McKinleyville, a team the Warriors beat by eight points in their season opener.
“McKinleyville, I know they’re gonna be up for it,” Marshall said. “It will be interesting to see what adjustments they make.”